White Day

  • 2017.03.14

Being a foreigner in Japan gives me an alternative view on things that are “normal” in Japan. White Day is something that was new and unusual to me when I first came to Japan. In the U.K., we celebrate Valentine’s Day by giving our partners, or a person we fancy, a gift. This is done by everyone, both men and women. However, in Japan, gift giving is separated: on Valentine’s Day women give gifts to men, and on White Day men give gifts to women.

I was curious about this, so I looked into the history of White Day. By all accounts, it was started at the end of the ‘70s by a Fukuoka-based company called Ishimuramanseido, and was originally called Marshmallow Day. I guess, Marshmallows rather than chocolates were given as gifts. This did not take off, but was adapted in following years into what we now know as White Day. Though a little unusual to me, the idea of separate days is easy enough to understand. However, the thing that still puzzles me is the idea of sanbai gaeshi. This term means that men are expected to buy gifts for their partners which are three times the value of the one received on Valentine’s Day. White day is celebrated mainly in Japan, Korea, Vietnam and China.

Europeans too have unique holidays. One of these is called Shrove Tuesday (or Pancake Day). It takes place every year at the end of February or the start of March. This is a festival that marks the beginning of Lent, a time when people are supposed to give up rich foods for 40 days. So on Shrove Tuesday, people use up all the rich foods in the house, such as eggs, milk and butter to make pancakes. In the UK we have pancake races where people run down the street with a frying pan flipping a pancake! Personally, I prefer to eat them with lemon and sugar.

Anyway, I have to make sure I get my wife something for White Day or I will be in the doghouse. If you are ever in the UK around the end of February, make sure that you indulge in some lovely, rich pancakes.


★fancy: 名詞では「空想」や「思いつき」「好み」などの意味を持つこのfancy。この語をイギリス英語でこのように動詞で使うと、「~が好き、好む、愛する」などの意味になります。イギリスではバレンタインにパートナーや好きな人に贈り物をするのですね!日本ではよく、かわいいものをいっぱいおいている雑貨屋さんをファンシーショップと呼んだりしますよね!これも日本語英語に惑わされないように覚えたい語ですね!

★take off: 良く知られている「脱ぐ、離陸する」などを含め、たくさんの意味を持つこのtake offですが、このように「〈商品が〉急に売れだす;〈景気が〉上昇し始める;〈事・計画などが〉うまくいき始める」という意味でも用いられます。このマシュマロデーはあまりうまくいかなかったようですが、現在のホワイトデーの形となってからは彼の言う3倍返しも含め、ポピュラーになりましたよね!

★rich foods: 日本語でも時々「リッチでクリーミーな味!」などの宣伝文句で聞くことがありますが、このrich foods とは こってりした食べ物、また、栄養に富んだ食べ物のことです。このrich foodsを40日間食べないようにするため、家にある卵や牛乳、バターを消費するためにパンケーキを作るのですね!

★in the doghouse: 「(~の)機嫌を損ねて,(~を)怒らせて,(~との)関係がまずいことになって」という意味を持ちます。彼がホワイトデーに奥さんに何かあげないとまずいことになってしまうのですね!男性が奥さんや恋人の機嫌を損ねて家から追い出されて犬小屋に入っている...というかんじでしょうか。