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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Japan Series at JapanesePod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Japanese holidays and observances. I’m Becky, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 7- "White Day."
On March 14th each year, we celebrate White Day. If you were to search around the world, this event would only be found in Japan. On this day, one month after Valentine's Day, men return the favor for the chocolates they received from women on February 14th. Originally, this day was an occasion for giving gifts such as marshmallows and candy to women, but it has gradually shifted towards other sweets and accessories.
Now, before we go into more detail, do you know the answer to this question- whose idea was White Day?
If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Regardless of whether the chocolate was given out of a sense of obligation or love, men who receive chocolate on Valentine's Day must return the favor on White Day by sending gifts, including sweets. Since ancient times, Japanese custom has required a person to give something in return for any gift that he or she receives. This idea is probably unique to Japan because its people place great importance on honesty and politeness in interpersonal relationships.
Women look forward to White Day the most if they have given chocolate on Valentine's Day. A woman who has professed her love gets very excited about her return gift. Even those who sent chocolate out of a sense of obligation are curious, thinking, "What I will get in return?" Magazines and TV shows often announce that "the man should return the gift multiplied by three," recommending that men give a gift three times the value of the chocolate they received. Therefore, women really look forward to White Day.
In the case of lovers, or husbands and wives, the lady also often receives some kind of accessory that she may like in addition to sweets. As well as the ubiquitous Valentine's Day, White Day is widely recognized as an event in which someone can measure the affection of their partner.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question- who thought up this holiday?
The correct answer is the confectionery industry. While there are several theories as to the origin of White Day, it is said that it comes from a long-established candy store in Fukuoka Prefecture that used to sell white marshmallows on March 14th.
As Valentine's Day became popular, the confectionery industry thought of having another day for giving a gift in return for the chocolate received on Valentine's Day. Seeing how chocolate sales increased rapidly as February 14th approached, they started advertising for people to return the favor on White Day. This idea slowly caught on and is now an established tradition in Japan.
Well listeners, how was this lesson?
Did you learn something new?
In your country, do you have a custom in which a person should give something in return for any gift that they receive?
Please leave us a comment telling us at JapanesePod101.com.
And we’ll see you next time!