No, it’s not a holiday.
In Japan, March 14th is White Day and on this day, all the guys who received chocolates and presents from girls on Valentine’s Day are supposed to give back a present to them. I’ve heard that this custom has also spread to South Korea and Taiwan and parts of China.
When I was in elementary school, White Day didn’t exist in the part of the Japan I lived in. I think I remember hearing about it once I was in high school and, by the time I was in my early 20’s, it was part of the culture.
After moving down here to Kyushu, I was surprised to learn that the concept of White Day was started by the president of a confectionery company, Ishimura Manseido, which is a big company here in Fukuoka. He started selling sets of marshmallows.
Why marshmallows? Well, his company made sweets which were made with sugar and egg yolks. The egg whites were originally thrown out. The president thought that was wasteful and made a new creation using the egg whites with sweet potato paste inside. (Marshmallows with yummy stuff inside.)
So, when he came up with the idea of White Day, his company used the egg whites and made smaller, bite-size marshmallows. His idea first became popular in the Fukuoka area and spread across Kyushu, then to the Kanto area (where I grew up).
And, of course, when the company started making money for White Day, other companies followed suit. One started making special white chocolate. Another started selling cookies. (Yes, the sweets and boxes and wrapping paper… all white.)
Nowadays, the guys will buy anything from jewelry to candies to clothing to pottery to give back. (Pottery is unusual, but it’s what one of my friends got this year.) And the men probably spend more money on return gifts than the women spend on Valentine’s Day presents.
Maybe that’s true in every country… 🙂