バレンタイン (Barentain, Valentine’s Day) in Japan is a distinctive celebration that continues to evolve.
When a chocolate manufacturer introduced バレンタイン in the 1950s, Feb. 14 was initially marketed as a day when women could confess their love to men. This take on the holiday has sparked a lot of conversations among women over the past decades, generating terms like 本命チョコ (honmei choko, chocolates for one’s romantic partner) and 義理チョコ (giri choko, obligatory chocolates).
Believe it or not, it used to be common to coordinate the 義理チョコ supply chain at your workplace up until recently, with women essentially expected to make a list of the necessary number of chocolates for their male colleagues, collecting money and making purchases at デパ地下 (depachika) the basement floors of department stores where food is usually sold. After all, you wouldn’t want any of your male colleagues to feel left out.