If you’re in Japan for that festive (or lonely) day, there are some guidelines of which you should be aware.

As this helpful piece from the Vancouver Observer describes, much like how Christmas in Japan differs from the United States with its reliance upon Kentucky Fried Chicken, Valentine’s Day is also different in its main practices.

For one, It’s a tradition for ladies at the office to give chocolates, known as giri-choko (義理チョコ) to their male coworkers. (Giri is Japanese for obligation and choko, short version of chokor, means chocolate).

The article also mentions that a lot of chocolate manufacturers in Japan expect to sell more than half of their yearly sales just for Valentine’s Day. That’s a lot of chocolate.

In the US, we don’t really give out Valentine’s cards to our co-workers and platonic friends for the most part. We used to in grade and middle school, but the holiday takes on a much more romantic/meaningful role as we get older. We aren’t obligated to buy gifts and cards and candy for acquaintances, and we don’t have this concept of “White Day” on March 14, when men respond to the affections and gifts thrown at them by women on February 14th.

I wasn’t personally aware of these cultural differences between our two cultures, but it’s definitely something to think about, as it’s an interesting comparison.

So whether you’re planning a romantic night for two, a basketful of friendly goodies for co-workers, or a bitter night of loneliness (we’ve all been there), here’s hoping your February 14th is as good as you’d like it to be.

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  1. What are Japanese traditions for marking Acute Singles Awareness Day? xD

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