In Japan, the Valentine’s Day is celebrated in a unique style in which it is the women who give presents to men. There has been a long-standing tradition in the country which forces women to give chocolate to male colleagues on Valentine’s Day. The tradition is called Giri-choco (which got started in 1950s) in which chocolates are given to friends, colleagues, bosses, and close male friends. In Giri-choco, Giri means obligation so there is no romance involved. Apart from Giri-choco, many Japanese women also follow Honmei-choco – the tradition of giving homemade chocolates to men one has romantic feelings for.
In another unique tradition, men are likely to return the favour on March 14 on White Day. More often the color of the chocolate is white because of the name of the day.
However, in the present day, Japanese women are pushing back against the Giri-choco tradition. Why? Because it has become a dull activity where women often risk offending their co-workers in case they leave out someone. Some companies are also looking to ban this practice, which is seen as a form of harassment.
So instead of buying chocolates for male co-workers, a large chunk of women will go for buying chocolates for their personal use.
According to the Japan Today website:
“Before the ban, we had to worry about things like how much is appropriate to spend on each chocolate and where we draw the line in who we give the chocolates to, so it’s good that we no longer have this culture of forced giving.”
Giving chocolate as Valentine’s Day is a big business in Japan. After getting started in mid-1950s, it has now become a multimillion-dollar market that provides some manufacturers with a sizeable chunk of their annual sales in just a few days.