In Japan, it is customary that on Valentine’s Day only women give gifts (usually chocolate) to men, either as an expression of affection, courtesy or social obligation. On the other hand, at the White Day (March 14th), the men who received chocolates at Valentine’s Day thank them for offering a gift to the woman to return the favor.
Traditionally, the most popular gifts for this day are cookies, jewelry, white chocolate, or other objects of the same color.
The White Day was held for the first time in 1978 in Japan.
It was started by the National Confectionery Industries Association as a “day of response” for Valentine’s Day, under the argument that men should return them to women who gave them chocolate and other gifts. In 1977, a candy company in Fukuoka, Ishimuramanseido, marketed marshmallows for men on March 14, calling it Marshmallow Day (マ シ ュ マ ロ デ ー Mashumaro Dē).
Soon, the candy companies began marketing white chocolate. Currently, men give away black and white chocolate, as well as other edible and inedible gifts, such as jewelry or objects of sentimental value. Flowers and other gifts are also given on this day. Eventually, this practice spread to the neighboring countries of Japan: South Korea, China, Taiwan and Vietnam. In those cultures, White Day is celebrated in a similar way for the most part.
Keep in mind some details:
Men are expected to return Valentine’s gifts with objects of greater value than the ones they received. And of course: the white color is the hero!
If the gift that is received is of the same value as the one that was given for Valentine’s Day it is common to think that something does not work in the relationship. It is also to be expected that the most expensive and personal gifts are made only to the couple or person you like. To your friends or co-workers the most usual thing is to give them sweets or chocolate.
The term sanbai gaeshi (三倍 返 し, return triple), tends to be used to represent the rule in which men must return a gift that is two or three times the value of the one they received on Valentine’s Day.
If you are a boy and you received gifts on Valentine’s Day, then you know what you have to do: give gifts back to all the girls from whom you received chocolate. You can give anything, but you have to make sure it’s nicer, better, or more expensive than the chocolates you received for Valentine’s Day.