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Women nationwide probably breathed a collective sigh of relief upon discovering that Valentine’s Day this year falls on a Sunday.

With the coronavirus pandemic looming large on everyone’s mind, the weekend offers women the perfect excuse to refrain from purchasing the obligatory chocolates for male bosses and colleagues that are traditional at this time of year. A month from now on what’s called White Day in Japan, men will be spared from returning the favor for the same reason.

TV Asahi examined the different ways that female workers up and down the country were approaching Valentine’s Day this year, as more women seemed to be looking forward to enjoying boutique chocolate they can order easily online.

TV Asahi noted that the custom of giving chocolate to male colleagues on Valentine’s Day has declined in recent years, with many women electing to forgo the practice altogether.

An article on Yahoo concurs with this sentiment, suggesting that it’s time to rethink the meaning of giving colleagues obligatory chocolate on Valentine’s Day and White Day.

“I have been on the receiving end of obligatory chocolate for many years and, every year, I have left the White Day return gifts to my wife to handle,” one male interviewee in his 40s said. “This year, she told me that she was fed up with the whole thing. She didn’t want to visit department stores for this nonessential errand, and she didn’t want to waste time choosing things online, either. All these years, I never stopped to think about the pressure I was putting on my wife, and I feel bad about that. Why not make Valentine’s more personal and stop giving obligatory chocolate? The day should be for people who really want to give chocolates to someone or perhaps buy some for themselves.”

Indeed, once male and female workers give up the need to buy obligatory chocolate for colleagues, then the process can take on a whole new dimension.

It’s not that women are no longer interested in Valentine’s Day chocolates, more that they may be taking a new approach. The TV Asahi program noted that many department stores have taken the whole process online, much to the delight of many chocolate lovers.

Sogo Seibu Department Store has launched an online service called “Pick Go Kaimono,” that allows customers to virtually browse the shelves, make their chocolate selections and then have them delivered to their person of choice — all within a minimum, 30-minute time frame.

“That’s definitely faster than going to the department store yourself,” one guest said. “The Valentine’s Day chocolate ritual just got a lot easier!”

Analysts expect in-person chocolate sales at various department stores to plummet this year, but what they lose at physical cash registers, they could more than make up for online, with digital sales expected to triple.

Last but not least, there are those who feel that Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to treat themselves for a change.

Social media is now blossoming with photos of people who have bought themed, high-end chocolates for themselves as a way of lifting their spirits and getting through the dreariness of winter.

The more culinary-minded may make hand-crafted chocolates or sweets for close friends and family, or simply post the photos online to the utter envy of anyone with a sweet tooth.

On Twitter, Reika Kohara wrote that she typically made Valentine’s Day sweets for everyone in her workplace (all 30 of them). This year, however, she’s thinking of abstaining altogether.

“I’m the type (of person) who’s satisfied with just making things,” she wrote alongside a photo of her artistic and delicious looking creations.

This year’s Valentine’s Day appears to be an opportunity for people to create a little time for themselves and the chocolates they love.

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