White Day: Another Day of Love in Taiwan

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Love by Marie-II on Flickr
Love by Marie-II on Flickr

Lovers in Taiwan have not one but three Valentine’s Days to celebrate, which just goes to show you that Taiwan is a little island big on romance. People celebrate the  Western Valentine’s Day on February 14th, the Chinese lunar Qi-Xi on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar, and the one that originated in Japan, White Day.

The Taiwanese, not to miss out on a day of love, celebrate all three holidays with ardor. As White Day approaches, department stores and shops have started to promote with zealousness. Large heart-shaped displays of chocolate, especially white chocolate, grace the floors of department stores everywhere. In Taiwan, it’s not uncommon to see Ferrero Rocher bouquets, bundles of teddy bear bouquets wrapped in pretty pastels, beautifully-wrapped packages of cookies, and chocolate lollipops. Of course, everything comes wrapped in white. After all, it is White Day.

White Day has a rather unique history. It is celebrated on March 14, one month after Valentine’s Day, however the Japanese were the first to celebrate this day in 1978.

You see, Valentine’s Day in Japan is celebrated with a twist. In Japan, women give gifts of chocolate and other gifts to men on Valentine’s Day.There are two types of chocolate that can be given. Giri choco is an obligatory chocolate given by women to their superiors at work or to their male co-workers. The other type of chocolate is called honmei-choco, and it is given to a man as an expression of love.

In the 1980s, a confectionary company in Fukuoka decided to create White Day to increase their sales. Their idea was to give those lucky men who receive honmei-choco an opportunity to return the favor by giving gifts of chocolate to their special lady friend.

Now here’s where it gets a little funny. This company did not sell gifts like diamond necklaces or pretty lingerie. Instead, they sold marshmallows. The company hoped that by marketing a new holiday, their candy sales would increase. I can’t even imagine how they came up with this bright idea. What self-respecting woman would want marshmallows as a gift?  Anyways, that is why the holiday is now called White Day.

Soon after this, confectionery companies began marketing white chocolate. Traditionally, men give both dark and white chocolate.  Other popular White Day gifts include cookies, white lingerie, jewelry, marshmallows, and stuffed animals.

Today, it’s celebrated in South Korea and Taiwan as well as in Japan.

For lovers  who are looking for a romantic evening in Taipei,  there is a special White Day Concert at the National Concert Hall on Friday, March 13.

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Post Author: Carrie Kellenberger

I'm a chronically ill Canadian expat who has been living abroad in Asia since 2003. I moved from China to Taiwan in 2006. My husband and I have owned our own business in Taiwan since 2012. In addition to my own work, I've been writing professionally about Asia, travel and health advocacy since 2007, providing regular content to several publishing companies and travel publications in Asia and North America. Follow Carrie on on Twitter @globetrotteri or on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/carriekellenberger/.

10 thoughts on “White Day: Another Day of Love in Taiwan

    Brunty

    (March 11, 2009 - 4:38 pm)

    Great post and i have learnt something I didn’t know before. I like the idea of giving different chocolates for someone you love or is a superior. Puts the person in no doubt if they are liked as a superior or loved.

    Next valentines I am buying marshmallows for Noot, but might dip them in rich, dark and expensive chocolate. I should be at a weight by then to enjoy a chocolate coated marshmallow.

      Carrie

      (March 13, 2009 - 1:56 pm)

      Hey Brunty,
      You actually make marshmallows sound good. Could you give John a few pointers for me about the art of chocolate-giving, please?

    Marion

    (March 13, 2009 - 1:47 pm)

    Nice blog post Carrie! Have a great weekend!

    An carol

    (March 15, 2009 - 1:41 pm)

    i feeling was not very strong of white day i thought the reason because i moved to town . whatever have a great white day : )

    kim

    (March 16, 2009 - 9:38 am)

    I always wondered how this custom originated, I never would have guessed marshmallows!
    I wouldn’t be too disappointed with a gift of real homemade French marshmallows (guimauves) – check out these (http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2008/01/rose_and_chocolate_marshmallows.php) but to be honest I’d already be won over with a ferrero bouquet 🙂

      Carrie

      (March 18, 2009 - 10:09 am)

      Kim,
      That is positively sinful! Here’s a fact about me. I can usually be won over by any gift of chocolate — unless it’s made in China.

    Stevo

    (March 18, 2009 - 10:04 pm)

    I hope this never catches on in China. The lunar calendar sometimes provides two Chinese valentine’s days in addition to Feb. 14. Enough is enough! hehe.

      Carrie

      (March 20, 2009 - 9:57 am)

      Stevo,
      I think three are appropriate. Two for the ladies and one for the man! 🙂

    Darvin @ Inexpensive Gifts for Men

    (January 3, 2010 - 3:05 am)

    Now that’s great! Perhaps I can try to help bring White Day to America?

    Here in America there really is no special day for us guys… unless you’re a father (Father’s Day)…. 🙁

      Carrie

      (January 11, 2010 - 12:30 am)

      That’s true, isn’t it? When did Valentine’s Day stop being about the guys? 🙁

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