When Valentine's Day is all about men!
Talking about Valentine’s day in western countries always comes along with various clichés strongly embedded and marketed in popular culture and empowered by Hollywood’s movie and series industries: flowers, cards, chocolate, gifts, fancy dinner, promises that you don’t intend to keep... with a strong pressure on the gentlemen’s side to provide the perfect and most romantic evening to celebrate love.
Then, to all our male readers, rejoice!!! Because after reading this, you will probably consider moving to Asia. In most Asian countries, especially South Korea and Japan, Valentine’s day is actually all about men! Indeed, men are the center of all attention for this holiday and women are the only ones to offer gifts, usually fancy or homemade chocolates, sometimes jewelry, to declare or express their feelings to their loved one.
With a little twist to it, Valentine’s day is pretty much the same in Japan, except that women are also expected to offer chocolate, not only to their loved ones or crushes, but also to their male friends or colleagues. The different categories are known as “honmei” chocolates, which can be translated as “favorite” chocolates for the special one, “giri” chocolates, known as “obligation” chocolates for male boss or colleagues and “tomo” chocolates for the male friends. You also have the alternative of the "jibun" chocolates to offer to yourself because who knows how to treat you better than yourself after all. It is common then to find in these countries during this time of the year department stores, convenience stores or shops full of any kind of extravagant chocolates but also cooking kits for women who prefer to make their own chocolates that might be considered as a more personal gift. In this framework, Valentine’s day in South Korea and Japan, is actually as much about romance and men as it is about chocolate, which may satisfy the chocolate lovers among you!
However, the favors are expected to be returned one month later on the “White Day”, on March 14th. Men who received chocolates or gifts are strongly encouraged to return the favors and thank the women’s attention or feelings. In Japan, the gift is expected to be three times the worth of the gift they received and usually comes as white chocolates or other kind of sweets.
Fun Fact is, if there is two dedicated love holidays for couples, single people are not left behind either: South Korea actually also have a holiday for them on April 14th, called the black Friday. Single ones that haven’t been lucky during Valentine’s and White days can mourn the lack of love in their lives or celebrate the fact of being single by eating a traditional Korean dish ofblack-bean noodles called jajangmyeon.
And… That’s it!
Photos credits: The Jakarta Post / Japan Lover / Japan Today Insight / My Korea Kitchen