Are you outraged that my husband won’t take me out to a restaurant on Valentine’s Day? Drinkers always refer to St. Patrick’s Day as ‘Amateur Night’ and we think the same about Valentine’s Day. Why go out to eat an overpriced prix fixe menu that most likely will be full of dishes he won’t like? Why buy bad quality, mass produced chocolate that I won’t like or want to work off? It’s not that we don’t love each other, we just both feel like there are other ways of expressing your love for each other without a side order of commercialism. Maybe we’re just lucky that February is full of real occasions for us, leaving no need for an invented holiday. What real occasions? Besides our wedding anniversary, our first date was on a special day as well…leap day. With those events on the calendar, a generic Valentine’s day doesn’t make our celebration list.
American men seem to work a lot harder on Valentine’s Day than their Japanese counterparts. On Valentine’s Day in Japan, women give MEN chocolates. Sometimes, the gift means love, and other times it may be just something to cheer up a lonely friend. If the gift is not for a love connection, it’s called, giri choko, “obligatory chocolate”. Nice, huh?
Giving chocolate has another meaning in Japan–confessing your affection for someone. Sounds serious, right? I remember I made sacher torte to a guy I had a crush on when I was a teenager. I guess it wasn’t that good, because I married someone else!
Seriously, dating in Japan goes way beyond Valentine’s Day trinkets. Here, you go out on a few dates first to see if you and the other person are a match. Once you find out that you make a great couple, you finally express your emotions when one person puts an ‘I love you’ out there and hopes for a return.
In Japan, you first “confess” that you really like someone and ask them to be in a relationship before the first date! I really hope I knew this when I moved to this country, but if I didn’t, I’m sure there are a few guys out there still telling the bizarre story of the Japanese woman who confessed her love to him before they were even introduced. Talk about confusing; I didn’t know I was on dates with guys, because I never heard them “confess.” But hey, it worked out in the end. I married an awesome guy who surprised me by confessing about other things!
By the way; if you think Japanese men have it easy on Valentine’s Day, guess again… A month later on March 14th, men have to give something back to ladies, and this time, it needs to be something a little more than a cheap box of chocolate. On March 14th, men typically buy women things like European pastries or designer handbags. Either in America or in Japan, it looks like men can’t get away from Valentine’s Day.
Do you think my husband got off easy because we don’t really celebrate Valentine’s day? Last Valentine’s Day, he put it like this: “We don’t need to celebrate Valentine’s day for the sake of Valentine’s Day, but I do want to honor you,” and gave me a few gifts. Pretty sweet, huh? No matter how you spend Valentine’s Day, I hope you make it fun and sweet in your own way! Happy Valentine’s Day!!