Thursday, March 15, 2007

White Day, aka: Valentine's part 2

Differences in cultures bring about a variety of differences in the way similar events and such, like holidays, are celebrated. Japan is, of course, an Eastern culture. There was no Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy back in the Tokugawa days of ancient Japan, no, thats quite a western thing. Then why, you ask, are those holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Valentines celebrated? (Ok, I don't think the Tooth Fairy exists in modern Japanese society, but lets just go with it) Lets face it, the Japanese love holidays.

I'm sure businesses love holidays as well. How could they not when some make most of their profits around the holiday seasons? Anyways, I didn't get a chance to mention it before, so I'll just go over Christmas quick.

Ah, Christmas. How the department stores make me annoyed of Christmas songs earlier and earlier every year. Well Japan it was actually a little different, as far as stickin' its rear end into Thanksgiving is considered at least. I must say it was kind of refreshing to have a year like it used to be, where I wasn't sick of Christmas by the time it came, I was sad when it left. But that might also have to do that it was my first Christmas on my own, and I didn't exactly get a chance to celebrate with family as they are on the other side of the world.

Well Christmas in Japan is pretty much plainly more of a holiday for couples than it is based around Christianity. Which, seeing as though 1% of the population is Christian :'( things kind of make sense. Who wouldn't like a holiday where a big guy in a red suit just gives you presents anyways. As far as Christmas trees, well they exist, but not nearly to the degree which we have em in the states. Theres not really any Christmas parades, and not very many people are familiar with Christmas carols or anything, although there are some popular Japanese songs with a Christmas theme. One of the most popular is apparently really depressing though... If I'm correct, I believe that song is about the singer who can't find or get a date/spend time with loved ones on Christmas, which, is THE thing you have to do on Christmas. It's kind of more accustomed to what we know of valentines. Except green too instead of just red. Of course they're Christmas parties (the Japanese love to party too) but the main event of Christmas is to spend time with your significant other, and go on a date, etc. The family part occurs a week later on the much much bigger and, in fact most important holiday of the year: New Years. On New Years everyone like, just goes home and the whole country just shuts off for a week, its a pretty fun time.

Anyways, back to the present time at hand, yesterday, was in fact White Day (which apparently doubles as Pi Day as well, with 3.14 and all). Well White Day is on the 14th of March more because of what happens one month earlier on the 14th of February: Valentine's Day. Valentine's is your ultimate couple's holiday right? Well in Japan, its more so of a girl > guy holiday, for whatever the history behind that. My guess is that it just turned out that way because of the ingrained 'women serving men' theme from way back when in the culture.

It may also have something to do with the Japanese style of romance. Namely, contrary to the general American way of, 'one thing leads to another, and it happens' point of view, in Japan, there usual has to be an explicit 'confession' from one to the other. Only from there can things 'go anywhere.' Anyways, thats another story. The main point being, on Valentine's girls give guys stuff. Mostly chocolate. And not just to their significant others, but to friends as well. The term giri choco has been coined for chocolate that is given kind of because they have to, or they're a friend/don't want to be unfair to others. In other words, giri choco is chocolate that just doesn't have as much feelings in it. I suppose its just like how we have it where your class passes out valentines on valentines day.

Well White Day rolls around 1 month later in March as a response to Valentine's. On White Day, the guys that received chocolates from girls return the favor/feeling a month later. Its pretty much simply Japanese Valentine's for guys. Only thing is, its not nearly as celebrated. Lets face it, its pretty easy being a guy in Japan.


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