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.