As the legend goes, the reason for Japan’s strange tradition of having women give chocolates to men on the most ‘romantic’ date in the Western Calendar is due to a translating error. To be fair, Japanese and English are the exact opposite of each other. “I go to the store” is in English countries what “I to the store go” is to Japanese speakers. And don’t even get me started on passive grammar forms of keigo. Basically you can see how someone accidentally and quite literally translated the English for an otherwise catchy business slogan: “St. Valentine’s, a day for men to give women chocolate” into “St. Valentine’s, a day for women to give men chocolate”.
That’s right. Blame the translators that the men of an already heavily patriarchal society have been reaping the benefits of a holiday that forces women to shower them with even more attention and lavish gifts yet again. Feminists, unite! Cry havoc and release the dogs of war! Or not…
…strangely enough this version of Valentine’s is quite popular among most women in the adult night class that I team teach on Mondays.
“I like this Valentine’s Day,” one of the married women said to us. “Women are supposed to be shy. But on one day of the year they’re allowed to be forward and present the object of their affections with an interesting proposition: to date or not to date?”
Another woman chimes in, “And it’s not like the woman doesn’t get anything back. A month later, there’s White Day. On this day, the men that the woman has gifted with chocolate are expected to gift something back to her. And if he hasn’t already, he will also give his response as to whether he’s game to date her.”
But of course there’s always the chance that the men will forget, which is worse than an outright rejection. Or as the guys in the college dorms when I studied abroad did:
They taped up creepy pictures of Sadako from The Ring as our White Day present. Haha, very funny and clever />.>”
Thanks to my coworkers for surprising me with a White Day gift! I didn’t think that they would when I gave them the omiyage from Hokkaido but they did! I can’t express how happy it made me but it’s one of the best things that happened today!!!