Everyone knows about Valentine’s Day and White Day. But what about Orange Day or Partner Day?

Proponents of these two want the public to recognize April 14 as a day when couples show their love for each other.

For Orange Day, couples confirm their love by exchanging oranges or orange-colored gifts, while the idea behind Partner Day is for men and women to speak or write of their respect for one another.

A group of citrus growers in Ehime Prefecture came up with the idea for Orange Day, according to the Japan Anniversary Association, which is based in Saku, Nagano Prefecture.

Kiyoshi Kase, 53, the anniversary association’s representative, received an inquiry about 10 years ago from the citrus growers saying: “There should be something on April 14, a month after White Day. We wonder whether we can make an appeal for our farming produce on such a day.”

On Valentine’s Day, women give gifts to men, and on White Day, men reply with gifts for the women. So, the argument went, why not have a day in April when both sides show their affection?

“In the language of flowers, oranges represent the happiness of a bride and are suited to the day,” Kase told the group.

Orange Day has been featured on the association’s Web site and inquiries about it have been increasing in the last few years.

For this year’s Orange Day, on Friday, Osaka-based Hankyu Department Stores Inc. will sell cakes made with oranges, and Sunkist Growers Inc., a U.S. group of citrus fruit shippers, will distribute oranges and a recipe book in Tokyo.

South Korea has a tradition of its own for April 14. Black Day is when single men and women who did not receive any gifts on Valentine’s Day or White Day put on dark clothes and get together to commiserate over noodles in black bean sauce.

The idea for Partner Day was born in 1998. A Saga citizens’ group that organizes events for men and women to take part together came up with the idea to make April 14 an opportunity to promote gender equality.

The idea is for men and women to recognize each other for giving support in the home, workplace and community.

Every year, women’s organizations and municipal government officials — believing that expressing one’s thoughts is more important than giving material objects — distribute cards to the public with messages of gratitude to partners. A message contest began this year.

However, according to a municipal government survey of Saga residents in fall 2004, only 15 percent were aware of Partner Day’s existence — and outside the city, it is almost completely unknown.

Mieko Baba, head of the city’s gender-equality section, said by way of explanation, “After all, goods appear to be more important (than sharing feelings). Merchants do not jump at the day.”

However, Kase of the Japan Anniversary Association is fully on board.

“The idea is good,” Baba said. “The day will become popular if we tackle various things on the commemorative day.”

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