On Valentine’s Day in Japan, women give gifts to men and girls give gifts to boys to say “I love you”, but this ‘one way system’ is a Japanese custom only. Giri-choko has been around for a long time where women send gifts to male colleagues. Here in the UK, people send gifts and cards to people they really like, regardless of gender. If we are both in love, we send each other gifts, but if we’ve been married for a long time, we’ll probably feel a bit obliged too.
There is an unspoken rule that we should not write our names. Instead, we can write “From your secret admirer”. But recently, many people seem to be writing their own names. I don’t think it is because the person received the card may thank the wrong person.
Chocolates are the most popular gift in Japan, and this started in 1936 when Kobe Morozov confectionery advertised Valentine’s Day chocolates. At that time, it was advertised for both men and women but did not really work. Later in 1958, A chocolate company called Mary’s Chocolate held a Valentine’s Day campaign at the Isetan department store in Shinjuku. It suggested that women should give chocolate to men. In the 1970s, the Japan Chocolate and Cocoa Association established 14th February as “Chocolate Day” and focused on the chocolate business. (Reference in Japanese, https://allabout.co.jp/gm/gc/220694/)
In the UK, there was no such business, and although many people give chocolates on Valentine’s Day, that is due to many people love chocolate. The standard gift from men is red roses, and the florists at Waterloo station, where I used to commute, were almost always covered in red roses around 14th February. It was beautiful.
Also, if you walk down the street, you will see temporary flower shops pop up all over the place, and even there, most of the flowers are red roses and which, like red carnations in Japan around Mothering Sunday in May, the red roses prices go up in February.
By the way, women do not (as far as I know) give flowers to men in the UK. It is common for women to give them to women.
It is not Chocolate, but near Valentine’s Day, most major supermarkets hold a bargain sale on dinner food sets. It’s called the Valentine’s Day Meal Deal, and you get to choose a starter, main course, side dish, dessert and a drink (sparkling rosé wine is very popular) from about five different options. The sparkling wine alone costs about £10, but with that included, it’s a bargain at £20 for two people.
We tend to buy from Marks & Spencer or Waitrose. It’s not just a one-day deal, it’s a few days in advance, so we sometimes stock up for two meals. My husband is a big fan of special offers, so we always take advantage of this deal every year.
This year we forgot to buy them a few days in advance, so by the time my husband went to Waitrose by himself this morning, the rosé sparkling wine we wanted was sold out. So he picked a different pink bottle. He was so proud to show me what he got in the kitchen, but when I said “Oh, it’s non-alcoholic”, he looked so disappointed. I wish he’d taken his reading glasses with him.
He got our first and second choice of starter, main course and dessert, which we both decided on beforehand, so I’m looking forward to dinner tonight. And one more time this week.
Young couples will probably have a romantic candlelit dinner tonight, with little hearts scattered across the table and they will open a bottle of rosé champagne that’s not on special offer.
We will be eating our dinner and be delighted to find out how much we saved on the Valentine’s Meal Deal this year by checking their original price.
Created: 14 February