While the men reading this will be spending nearly $120 (according to the National Retail Federation) and deciding between candy, an evening out with their significant other, flowers and jewelry, I won’t be worrying about a single thing because on February 14, I don’t have to do a thing.
I have no doubt that men around the world would be a whole lot happier if all countries would adopt the Japanese Valentine’s Day system. In fact, I would not be surprised it it was a group of Japanese men drinking late at night who came up with the Valentine’s Day rules for Japan. Seriously – you’ll understand why when I explain how it is celebrated here. You might as well start lobbying Hallmark and the chocolate companies because any man that is reading this will be sick with envy at how easy Valentine’s Day is for men in Japan.
The brilliance of Valentine’s Day in Japan (for men) starts with the day itself. The men do absolutely nothing on February 14th – yes, you read that correctly – it is the women’s responsibility to give a gift to the man. On February 14th, men in Japan simply accept gifts from any women that decides to give him a Valentine’s Day gift. Speaking from a man’s point of view, this is pretty darn hard to beat.
Now men don’t get off completely free in all of this. I’m sure that Japanese women soon figured out that this whole deal was a bit backward compared to the rest of the world, but once it had been established, there was no way that the men were going to make the switch. Instead of fighting men tooth and nail on this, women instead made up a new day – called White Day – celebrated a month after Valentine’s Day on March 14. On White Day men purchase chocolate, candy, etc for women. While men would have preferred to have come out of the entire process without any obligation, they acquiesced on this one point figuring they still came out well ahead in the deal compared to men everywhere else in the world. It’s hard to beat a system that tells you:
1) If you need to buy a gift at all.
2) A month to prepare giving that gift if you do need to give one.
3) Who you must give the gift to.
4) How much you should spend on the gift.
Men in Japan quickly realized the advantage of having White day a month after Valentine’s Day because it gave them something every man needs – basic guidelines and time to prepare. First, men are only required to give chocolate back to those who actually give them chocolate. Even better, since men get to see the gift given to them first, they have a pretty good idea exactly how much effort they need to put in and what they have to spend on the return gift. This makes the entire Valentine’s Day experience a lot more enjoyable (at least for men).
I have lived in both systems and, from a male perspective, I’d be hard pressed to come up with a better Valentine’s Day system for a man that didn’t involve abolishing the entire day all together…So while the rest of you are trying to decide whether to purchase that heart shaped box of chocolates or the teddy bear on your way home at the drugstore on February 14, I’ll be sitting on the couch watching TV with a beer in hand (as will Japanese men everywhere)wondering what nice surprise I’ll receive. And that, my friends, is the way Valentine’s Day should be celebrated