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What is White Day? ホワイトデーって何?

On 14 March, a month after Valentine’s Day, people in Japan celebrate White Day or White Valentine's Day.

It is the day males return gifts back to females in appreciation of the chocolates they received on Valentine's Day.

Origin of White Day

White Day is a relatively new phenomenon.

As Valentine's Day has taken root and sales of chocolate thrive on 14 February, in response to this, the confectionery industry in Japan invented White Day on 14 March.

There are different rumours as to which manufacturer came up with the idea of the White Day.

Ishimura Manseido (石村萬盛堂)

In 1977, the president of Ishimura Manseido said, "It's not fair that males don't return gifts to females for what they have received on Valentine's Day.” Consequently, the company first marketed marshmallows to males on 14 March 1978 and called it "Marshmallow Day" (マシュマロデー).

The National Candy and Confectionery Cooperative Association (全国飴菓子工業協同組合)

The National Candy and Confectionery Cooperative Association marketed 14 March as “Answer Day" or "Reply day" to Valentine's Day, encouraging males to return the favour to the females who gave them chocolates on Valentine's Day.

They suggested it was boring to return chocolates to females. They came up with the idea of returning candies instead. Hence, there was a suggestion to market 14 March as "Candy Day". However, the suggestion didn't go ahead as people think white is a symbol of purity and is also the colour of sugar. They thought, White Day would be the perfect name for young people's pure love. The initial name was "Ai ni Kotaeru White Day" (Answer Love on White Day).

Fujiya (不二家)

Another story suggests that White Day originated in the 1960s when Fujiya advertised and sold sweets in return for Valentine's Day under the name "Return Valentine". As Valentine's Day became more and more popular, the confectionery industry began to promote the idea of giving back in the form of sweets on certain days. Fujiya started with "Return Valentine's Day". It was said White Day started on 14 March 1973 when Fujiya and EIWA, a manufacturer of marshmallows, initiated a campaign to give marshmallows in return for Valentine's Day.

The meanings of the White Day gifts

Do you know there are different meanings of the White Day gifts?

Marshmallow: I don't like you

Before White Day came into its own in the 1970s, marshmallows were popular when Ishimura Manseido introduced marshmallow filled with chocolate. It was said to stand for the girl's feelings (chocolate) returned covered in pure love (marshmallows).

More recently, this was interpreted to soft refusal as it implies wrapping the chocolate in a soft marshmallow and giving it back. And due to the fact that marshmallows melt and dissolve as soon as you put them in your mouth, they are being passed out with the meaning of I don't like you, and I want to forget you immediately or I don't want to go out with you for a long time.

Perhaps marshmallows might be something you might want to avoid on White Day.

Hard Candy: I like you

It is said that candy can be savoured for a long time in the mouth symbolising the relationship will last for a long time. Also, candy is hard and sweet, which means the relationship will not be easily broken and will be sweet.

Interestingly, each candy flavour has its own meaning:

· Strawberry: love and marriage

· Lemon: true love

· Grape: intoxicating love

· Apple: destiny

· Orange: happy bride

· Melon: great date

Cookies: You are my friend

Unlike candy and marshmallows, cookies are crunchy, crispy and light. Cookies are also deemed as a convenient treat that can be bought anywhere. Apparently, this is taken to mean a "casual" or "dry" relationship. Thus, it is said to mean you are my friend.

Macarons: You are a special person

This is because it is under most of females’ impression that macarons are luxurious treats. A special person can be someone you love, a dear friend, a reliable colleague or a valued family member.

Chocolates: Nothing special

It has no surprise receiving chocolates in return when you have given the person chocolates. And it is said the chocolate is a versatile gift that can be given to anyone. Hence, it means nothing special.

Other sweets

· Caramel: You are a person who can be at ease Caramel’s soft texture and gentle sweetness of caramel give the image of "at ease".

· Madeleine: I want to get to know you better. In Japan, shells are said to bring good luck. Madeleine’s shell-look symbolise "marriage" and "harmonious relations", meaning that you want to keep your current good relationship and build a better one.

· Baumkuchen: May your happiness last forever Baumkuchen looks like the annual rings of a tree and is therefore a good omen for many celebrations.

Other sweets gifts

There are many people who would rather give sweets that have no meaning or just give a casual gift on White Day.

Pudding, cream puffs and jelly are the gifts that have no meanings at all and are recommended for people at all ages.

The Brisbane Japanese Language and Culture

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