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What is White Day?

sushiHave you heard of White Day? It takes place on March 14th, and it’s kind of a reverse Valentine’s Day. On Valentine’s, it’s traditional that women buy gifts for men, but on White Day, it’s the other way around—the men buy the gifts! This is somewhat opposite of how we view Valentine’s Day in the U.S. This day isn’t just celebrated in Japan. It’s also a big holiday in China, Taiwan, and South Korea.

Valentine’s Day Chocolates

Generally, women give out chocolates on Valentine’s Day. Some is store-bought, while others make it by hand. Both are acceptable, although some see homemade chocolates as carrying more meaning because of the time and effort it takes to make them. Men who are married or who are seeing someone receive what’s called honmei-choco, which translates to “chocolate of love.” Others may be given giri-choco, or courtesy chocolates—close male friends, co-workers, etc. usually receive this type of chocolate.

Returning the Favor

On White Day, it’s time for men to pay back the favor. In addition to giving white chocolate, many men give cookies, marshmallows, jewelry, white lingerie, and other items as gifts. While it’s not required, the concept of sanbai gaeshi, or “triple the return,” is quoted on White Day. That means the man should triple the value of the gift he received on Valentine’s Day. Men who received courtesy chocolate generally return a small gift due to social obligation, not because of any romantic feelings. However, the day can be used to express romantic interest.


White Day is actually a fairly new holiday—it was first observed in Japan in 1978. It was actually created by the National Confectionery Industry Association. A year before, another company tried to make March 14th Marshmallow Day by marketing the product to men, but it didn’t catch on. However, the idea of associating the color white with the day did, and soon men were buying white chocolates and other items for the women in their lives. White Day later spread to the nearby Asian countries.

South Korea

White Day in South Korea is very similar to how it is in Japan, but instead of chocolates, men often give women lollipops or other types of hard candy.

Will you be celebrating White Day this year? Even if you don’t give chocolates or other gifts, you can use it as a day to have some great sushi!