3:32 p.m (in our school lobby)
I am writing this early today (I usually write after work) because I will be
drinking going out with Yurina tonight. She’ll leave to Finland on the 24th and this is the only time I’m available for the month. My friends usually ask me out a month before because they know my schedule. And today is also the 30th of my writing challenge! Yay! As much as I wanted to tell you about my experience, I will focus on Valentine’s Day today.
So how’s my heart day so far? It’s an ordinary day for me as you know my boyfriend is in the Philippines and just like last year we celebrated it virtually, I wasn’t nor am sad because I know we can celebrate hearts day anytime, love is all that matters anyways charaught.
Anyways, it wasn’t new to us that Japanese has a different kind of celebration when it comes the 14th of February, same as South Korea (I used to teach Koreans for a year too) they have Valentines Day and White Day. So basically, Vday is for men, women gives chocolate to them. But not only that, I also found out that there are several types of gift-giving on Valentines’s day here after our manager gave us chocolate, she said it’s tomo-choco (friend chocolates) and when I asked our counselor (we saw her buying chocolate last Monday) what kind of chocolate she bought, she was laughing and said it’s a jibun-choco (chocolate for yourself). So I then asked google and he gave me this blog that explains them all.
Loosely meaning ‘obligation chocolate’, this gift is given to friends, bosses, family members, work colleagues or other men who the giver isn’t romantically involved with. It’s an obligation, for sure, but there’s more to it than that.
Giri is a very complicated concept in Japanese culture, and doesn’t translate easily into Western culture. We might see giri as an obligation, but it’s also close to ‘a debt of gratitude’, or the pursuit of the other person’s happiness. Receiving giri-choco from a girl or woman in your life won’t be a statement of romance, but it also shouldn’t be thought of as a forced habit. Instead, that’s reserved for cho-giri-choco (ultra-obligation-chocolate).
So, why do women give giri-choco to men on Valentine’s day? We’ll get to that, but first, let’s find out what Japanese ladies do for that special someone in their lives.
In Japan, Honmei chocolate is reserved for a boyfriend, husband or lover – that special someone in your life that you want to shower with affection in the form of chocolate, cookies and other sweet treats.
To separate the gift of honmei (meaning loosely ‘real objective’) from others made out of giri (obligation), many women in Japan choose to make the chocolate themselves. By handcrafting their gift, they hope to demonstrate how valuable this person is in their life.
Thanks to this love of handmade honmei, stores will not only sell chocolates on Valentine’s Day, but also many of the ingredients for making chocolates. So, if you want to show true affection for someone, Japanese-style, it might be time to break out the recipe book.
Let’s face it, we all love chocolate. Jibun-choco is the chocolate you buy and enjoy for yourself. Depending on who you ask, jibun-choco is actually the most important to many women (and men) on Valentine’s Day. So, when it comes to choosing your Valentine’s day gifts this year, don’t forget to do as the Japanese do and spoil yourself a little… Or a lot!
Tomo-choco is ‘friend chocolates’ and is given by women to other female friends on Valentine’s Day – so no one is left out of the gifts!
Tomo-choco is usually quite ornate, expensive and decorative. Typically, Japanese ladies will not only gift their friends tomo-choco, but get together and eat it all at the same time. It’s a time for girls to get together and enjoy their own special Valentine’s Day moments.
Gyaku-choco means ‘reverse chocolate’ and is given by a man to a woman. Because it’s not ‘traditional’ for men to give chocolate on Valentine’s Day, gyaku is not particularly common. To understand why it’s not traditional, you have to know about Japan’s complementary holiday to Valentine’s Day, called White Day.
Falling exactly one month after Valentine’s Day, White Day is a Japanese romantic holiday where men return the favour… times three!
Come the 14th of March, men of all ages are expected to give gifts worth at least three times the amount of the gift received, to any woman from whom they received giri-choco from the month before.
Men aren’t expected to only give chocolate either. Instead they can give gifts like handbags, lingerie, flowers and clothes. So if you want to be showered with gifts on White Day, give generously to your friends and loved ones on Valentine’s Day.
Source: Kobe Jones
In my opinion, this day isn’t only a day for couples but for all hearts out there. To single people out there, try not to be sad and enjoy the day with friends, your family and people who are special to you, or try greeting everyone around you, the security guard who always greets you good morning or the crew in your favorite convenient store or restaurant, the taxi/uber driver or even the jeepney driver, the person next to you or the person you secretly like (malay mo may pagtingin din haha) this simple things will brighten up their day and you’ll never know they’ll be sharing the vibes to other people too.
And to those lovely couple out there, I know it’s our day naks, show your love one how much you love them (too much love already lol!), you don’t need to spend money on expensive things like flowers and chocolates, remember, it’s the thought that counts.
To our married couples, it might be an ordinary day for you but isn’t it sweet to celebrate it? Your other half would be happy with simple things, a candlelight dinner tonight at home, or a pair of socks you know he would love, or write a poem if you can, we can do a lot of simple things to make someone smile and feel loved without spending a lot. Try noticing how lovely your wife lipstick or new haircut, or that nail polish, it means a lot. Try asking your spouse about his day at work, a massage, a good dinner or a movie he likes.
The day hasn’t finished yet but I will finish this post by wishing everyone a lovely day, shine and spread love. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I love you all!
*hugs and kisses
P.S the featured image is a photo of the chocolate my co-worker gave me. Isn’t it cute???