Have You Heard of “White Day”?

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A week ago today, men gave back a present to women in response to the chocolate gifts on Valentine’s Day in Japan. The day, on March 14, is called “White Day,” and it has become one of the most well-known events in Japan. 

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The Origin of White Day

As most people outside of Japan might not have heard of White Day, it originated in Japan as a day of men giving something to women in response to the gift on Valentine’s Day. Japanese people have come up with this idea roots in Japanese tradition where you are supposed to give back something if you get something, and this tradition is known as “okaeshi.” Thus, men begin to give things back to women about a month after Valentine’s Day. Back in the old days, the most common gifts from men were candies or marshmallows. 

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The History of White Day

There are some theories regarding who actually came up with White Day, though the most famous ones are the National Candy Industry Cooperative Association and Ishimura Manseido (the name of a Japanese confectionery company). 

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Theory #1: National Candy Industry Cooperative Association

The first theory was invented by the National Candy and Confectionery Industry Cooperative Association, which aimed to establish the custom of “responding to Valentine’s Day = candy.” It is said that the first White Day for them in 1980 gradually took root as a result of a major campaign conducted by department stores and radio advertisements. Besides, according to the association, the origin of the name “White Day” comes from the image of the fresh love of young people as white, which has the image of purity. It seems that the original White Day was conceived with teenagers in mind.

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Theory #2: Ishimura Manseido

Another theory is that the then-president of Ishimura Mansakido, a long-established Japanese confectionery in Fukuoka City, saw an article in a girl’s magazine that said, “I want at least a marshmallow in return for Valentine’s Day,” and invented marshmallow sweets for Valentine’s Day and a day to give them. What he did first was rework one of their famous confections called “Tsurunoko,” which is a yellow bean paste wrapped in marshmallow dough, with chocolate wrapped in marshmallow. The concept was “I will return the chocolate you gave me by wrapping it in my kindness (marshmallow).” However, Marshmallow Day was not a hit and struggled for seven to eight years. At that time, a department store was advised changing the name to “White Day” in reference to the white color reminiscent of marshmallows, so White Day was established.

写真:石村萬盛堂公式ウェブサイトhttps://www.ishimura.co.jp/

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Hidden Meaning of Each Gift

Unlike Valentine’s Day, men can give women whatever they want to give, or whatever the women are willing to get. It quite depends on the men’s choice, and some men hide a secret meaning behind the gift as a way of telling their message to women in response to Valentine’s Day.

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  1. Cookie

It has the meaning of “let’s be friends.” There are many reasons for this, but it seems that cookies are associated with the meaning of friendship because they are crispy and dry. Besides, many varieties of cookies are also believed to include the meaning of friendliness rather than specialness.

2. Mashmallow

It has the meaning, “I hate you.” Since marshmallows melt and disappear as soon as you put them in your mouth, it is taken as a relationship to the extent that they disappear quickly.

3. Madelenine

Madeleine has the meaning of “wanting to become more intimate.” They are sweets in the shape of a bivalve shell and are said to have this meaning because the two shells are attached to one another, giving the image of matchmaking or intimacy.

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Other than sweets, there are also some secret meanings behind other gifts.

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  1. Handkerchiefs

Since they are used to wiping tears away, they mean “goodbye.” Although handkerchiefs are a popular and reasonably priced gift, it is best to avoid giving them a favor on White Day.

2. Necklace

Since a necklace is an accessory worn around the neck, it is a gift that can also mean staying by your side or binding you.

3. Socks

They have the connotation of trampling or being condescending, so they are not appropriate for White Day.

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Six meanings hidden in each gift were discussed, you must be surprised at there are many more hidden meanings once you start searching. One hand, this variety of hidden meaning makes it difficult to choose a gift but on the other hand, for those who are too shy to express their feelings in words, using a gift as a way of delivering the message might be helpful. Although White Day for this year has already ended, expressing gratitude and love is important anytime in the end.

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Writer: Mao Kimura
Mao’s Instagram

(3/17/2022)

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