White Day is a day that is marked in Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and China on March 14, one month after Valentine’s Day.
In Japan, February 14th gift-giving consists of women giving gifts to men, and so on White Day women receive return gifts (okaeshi, which means “a return“) from the men to whom they gave Valentine’s Day presents. Along with Japan, quite a few other East Asian and Southeast Asian countries also celebrate White Day.
Not National Holiday
History of White Day
The reason that day is “White” Day is because it began as “Marshmallow Day” back in 1977, and involved the purchasing of marshmallows. The following year, Japan’s National Confectionery Industry Association called the day White Day instead of Marshmallow Day and began promoting the idea that it was a day for giving Valentine’s Day return gifts. Various companies jumped on the idea and began selling white chocolate in the weeks leading up to March 14th. Nowadays, White Day gifts do not need to be white, whether they are chocolates or other kinds of items.
The last few weeks in Tokyo have seen stores displaying and selling white chocolate, various marshmallow confectionaries and assorted gifts (usually in white packages) for this big event. White Day has its origins in another commercial holiday. In 1977, Japanese confection company Ishimuramanseido invented Marshmallow Day. They made marshmallows for men to give to women on March 14, similar to White Day. This inspired the National Confectionery Industry Association to create White Day as something all confection companies could observe. Today, marshmallows are still popular White Day gifts.
Valentine’s Day in countries which observe White Day is typically observed by girls and women presenting chocolate gifts (either store-bought or handmade). Usually to boys or men, as an expression of love, courtesy, or social obligation. On White Day, the reverse happens. Men who received a honmei-choco (‘chocolate of love’) or giri-choco (‘courtesy chocolate’) on Valentine’s Day expected to return the favor by giving gifts. Traditionally, popular White Day gifts are cookies, jewelry, white chocolate, white lingerie, and marshmallows. Sometimes the term sanbai gaeshi (‘triple the return’) used to describe the generally recited rule for men that the return gift should two to three times the worth of the Valentine’s gift.
White Day Gifts
Also, it’s not as common for men to make their gifts themselves. Typically, cookies, candies, and chocolates are common. For a romantic partner, a more elaborate and expensive gift is best, such as fine chocolates, jewelry, or a cute scarf, especially if it’s white to mark the day.