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TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogMarch 14th: Everything You Need to Know About White Day!

March 14th: Everything You Need to Know About White Day!

James LauJames Lau
Published Time
Posted on 
January 25, 2024
A blue box of chocolates on White Day.

Discover the charming tradition of White Day in Japan on March 14th! From the unique gift-giving customs to the returning expressions of love, let’s look into what sets White Day apart from Valentine’s Day.

March 14th marks the celebration of White Day in Japan, a romantic occasion steeped in tradition. While you may be aware of the basics of this holiday, let’s look at the history and meaning behind the gifts!

What is White Day?

White Day is a unique romantic celebration on March 14th, one month after Valentine’s Day. In Japan, it’s a day when men reciprocate the gifts they received from women on Valentine’s Day, be they friends, co-workers, or romantic partners. Unlike Valentine’s Day, however, White Day is a new celebration, having only been around for around forty years.

A man and a woman holding a red gift box.
White Day is a response to Valentine’s Day! Image via Shutterstock

In Japan, it’s a unique tradition where only women give gifts to men on Valentine’s Day. White Day is when men return the gesture, expressing their appreciation with gifts and affection to the women in their lives, whether friendship, professional, or romantic. Initially observed in Japan, White Day has spread to other Asian countries like China and Korea, evolving its gift-giving customs and celebrations.

History of White Day

White Day is said to have its roots in the 1970s, originating from Ishimura Manseido, a confectionery company based in Fukuoka, Japan. The idea came from a letter in a women’s magazine, where a woman expressed her desire for men to reciprocate gifts on Valentine’s Day. Inspired by this, the company’s female employees suggested March 14th as the day for women to receive gifts in return.

A bunch of March 14th chocolates.
White Day takes place on March 14th! Image via Shutterstock

In response to the request for marshmallows, Ishimura Manseido initially created “Marshmallow Day,” a sweet marshmallow paste filled with chocolate. Over time, the name evolved to “White Day,” gaining popularity throughout Japan in the 1980s and spreading to other Asian countries. Even today, marshmallows remain a popular gift choice in Japan, although its meaning has changed.

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Difference from Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day focuses on women showing their feelings, while White Day emphasizes men’s turn to return their emotions. The shift in traditional roles creates a unique relationship between couples and friends. White Day in Japan involves various levels of gift-giving. “Tomo Choco” is a chocolate exchanged between friends to symbolize friendship. Tomo Choco is often exchanged among the same gender to celebrate White Day.

A couple exchanging a gift on March 14th.
White Day is a chance for men to show their appreciation! Image via Shutterstock

Japan has a robust gift-giving culture called “Okaeshi” or “give and take. If this culture is ignored, it can be considered rude. The concept of “sanbai gaeshi” suggests that men should return gifts on White Day with a value of two to three times higher than what they received on Valentine’s Day. This tradition extends to wives, girlfriends, friends, and even individuals who confess their feelings.

Gifts on March 14th

Choosing the right gift for White Day in Japan involves considering the intentions and meanings behind different presents. Marshmallows were an everyday gift, but their significance has evolved. Giving or receiving marshmallows can signify rejection, as they quickly dissolve. Men typically present white-themed gifts, such as white chocolate, cookies, or flowers, reflecting the day’s name. They may also give gifts like watches or jewelry!

Miso caramel and chocolate truffles.
Make sure you get the best chocolate for White Day! Image via Makes Bakes and Decor

Cookies also hold a specific meaning on White Day. Gifting cookies is often associated with a desire to remain just friends. On the other hand, presenting hard candies can be seen as a love confession, symbolizing a desire for a lasting and sweet relationship due to the candies’ ability to remain unchanged in the mouth. In the workplace, it’s common for men to collectively contribute to gifting one box of chocolates to female staff.

Why is White Day Special?

White Day in Japan is a unique tradition that emerged in response to a woman’s desire to reciprocate Valentine’s Day gifts. This holiday sees men express their appreciation with thoughtful gifts. The emphasis on white-themed gifts adds a symbolic touch to the occasion. White Day also holds cultural significance as it reinforces the “Okaeshi” or “give and take,” strengthening relationships and emotional bonds.

Two champagne flutes with a box of chocolates on the side.
What are your plans for White Day? Image via Shutterstock

As the celebration continues to captivate Japan and spread to other Asian countries, the culture surrounding this special day shows a blend of tradition, affection, and meaningful gestures. Japan continues to celebrate White Day, and Japanese men put thought and care into their returning gifts each year! Why not try something new this year and celebrate White Day? Have you celebrated White Day before? How did you do it? Leave a comment and share your White Day stories!

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