Guys who received lots of chocolates on Valentine’s Day might think they don’t have to give anything in return. Wrong. In Japan, White Day – March 14 – is a big day for women who gave chocolates to the men in their lives. That’s when those men are supposed to return the favor, usually in the form of chocolate along with some other gifts such as watches or accessories.
The value of White Day gifts is supposed to be double or even triple (“sanbai-gaeshiin”) that of the gifts a guy received on Feb 14.
How did the White Day custom start anyway? It is a unique event in Japan, launched by the National Confectionery Industry Association (NCIA) in 1978 to sell more confectionery, of course. When the Valentine’s Day custom of “giri-choco” (obligation chocolate) became popular in Japan, some bright marketing man (or woman) decided that there was a strong consensus among young women that guys should be given an opportunity to give something in return to women.
Thus, the NCIA created a catchphrase “White Day is a sweet day” to create a recognizable day on the Japanese calendar.
But there is another story regarding the origin of White Day in Japan. In 1977, Ishimura Manseido, a confectionery shop in Fukuoka, started to sell white marshmallows and called March 14 “Marshmallow Day.” Their marshmallows included chocolate inside and the brand’s advertising message was “I will return your chocolate covered in my gentleness” (a reference to marshmallow’s softness).
Though White Day originated in Japan, it was exported to South Korea and Taiwan, where they additionally started “Black Day” on March 14. It is a day for singles to get together wearing black to comfort each other over not getting any gift either on Valentine’s Day or White Day.