February 14 is known for being Valentine’s Day, where couples from all over the world show their love and give each other gifts such as flowers, jewelry or chocolates. This last form of gift is the absolute protagonist and has a different meaning depending on what connotation or intention they have when they are given, as well as the type of chocolate is delivered.
Japan has not always celebrated this holiday, as the first approach took place in 1936, with an advertisement aimed at foreigners who were then in Japan and who celebrated it, as well as wanting to introduce it to the rest of the people. Thus, by the end of the 1940s, many Japanese people were already celebrating Valentine’s Day, and between 1950 and 1960, the holiday was internalized throughout the country, becoming an ingrained festivity.
While in most countries of the world men usually give chocolates to women, in Japan it is the opposite, as it is the women who give men this gift. Moreover, depending on the type of chocolate that is given, the meaning will be one or the other.
Giri-Choko is the name for “chocolate out of obligation”, which is given to people for whom there is no romantic interest, such as friends, parents or co-workers. In recent years, this type of chocolate has been very controversial, as many men and women against traditions believe that giving it as a gift is “old-fashioned”.
Cho-Giri choko refers to “consolation chocolate”, which is more economical, and is reserved for people who are indifferent to the woman, such as an unpopular co-worker or someone in a group of friends for whom she has no affection.
There is also the Tomo-Choko, that is, the “friendship chocolate”, which is given to the woman’s friends as a symbol of sisterhood and friendship among women.
Finally, Honmei-Choko, or “chocolate for true feelings”, is reserved for boyfriends, lovers or husbands as a token of their love and feelings. These in particular are usually handmade in the shape of their lover’s face, and the recipient considers himself or herself very lucky.
However, men do not leave without giving gifts. A month later, on March 14, the “White Day” takes place, in which they are the ones who have to “return the favor” and give gifts to women. In addition, the gift has to be more expensive than the chocolates that were received, and it is usually flowers or jewelry.