It’s almost valentine day and the 14th of February can be a pretty tough time for both men and women in Africa. The men especially seem to feel the brunt of the pressure on this day as they are expected to surprise and wow their female counterparts with gifts that supposedly depict their love for them.
In recent years, a trend of table-turning has begun as men insist that they also deserve some extravagance on the culprit day that often sees women relaxed in the receiving role. No matter how much the tables have turned however, it is still a widely expected tradition that the man buy a gift or take his woman out on valentines, and so the pressure still lies mostly with men. In Japan however roles are reversed for this special day as a Japanese tradition sees the men there relaxed, taking it slow, waiting for the women in their lives to gift them with chocolates.
Struggling, shoving, pushing and elbowing, it was quite an upward struggle as Japanese women crowded supermarkets yesterday in preparation for the 14th of February. The tradition it’s said seemingly began after a firm called Mary chocolate advertised February 14 as “the only day of the year a woman professes her love through presenting chocolate”. This happened during the 1950s as the Japanese economy picked up following the devastation of World War II and the country exercised her acquired taste for sophistication and luxury on Western products. Retailers say, half of Japan’s $11 billion chocolate business, Asia’s biggest, is spent in February.
The chocolate gift giving for Japanese women on valentine’s day is not only restricted to gentlemen loves, as the women also buy chocolates for male co-workers, family and friends. Valentine’s Day is big business in Japan, advertisements and chocolate displays begin appearing in early January, not long after Christmas decorations have come down. Entire floors of Japanese department stores are dedicated to the Valentine’s Day tradition, showcasing cases brimming with heart-shaped goodies by international chocolatiers.
For the women who may be reading this disbelievingly, Japanese men do reciprocate – or not – a month later (March 14) on White Day, when they may return the show of affection by giving a traditional white gift, which can be anything from white chocolate to lingerie. Such an awesome tradition, or don’t you think so?