Reference Pages Index -- Oniko Goes To Japan Main Page
I'm not sure when yet -- the big guess is sometime during the American Occupation after World War II -- a number of American holidays were picked up by Japan. Of course, nothing that is borrowed from another culture remains exactly the same in Japan; these borrowed holidays retain some of their original foreign appearance and rituals, while the ideas behind them become uniquely Japanese.
Valentine's Day is a good example of this. Whereas in the States it is a holiday when school-children hand out pretty valentines to all their classmates and adult males give gifts to their significant others -- on pain of death should they fail -- the rules are very different in Japan. On February 14 in Japan, young unmarried females, teenagers and up, are expected to give Valentine's Day presents to the males they want to be involved with [I don't know yet whether or not females already in a relationship are expected to give gifts to their boyfriends on this day]. The presents appear to most often be some sort of chocolate treat, and the young ladies may or may not choose to give similar treats to their brothers and fathers on this day.
Sounds a little one sided? Wait, there's more... on March 14, White Day, it's the boy's turn. Young unmarried males, teenagers and up, are expected to respond to the Valentine's Day gifts -- assuming they are also interested -- by giving the young ladies gifts [but I don't know what is traditional as a present on this day yet... I'm guessing more chocolate]. Now for some more gaps in my knowledge: I don't know if boys already in relationships are expected to pony up gifts also, and I don't know if they are would also give gifts to their sisters and mothers... I'll try to find out.
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