Sunday, March 16, 2014

Valentine's Day and White Day

Those of us who are use to receiving extravagant gifts of flowers, chocolate, and jewelry for Valentine’s Day were round-house kicked in the face for Valentine’s Day in Japan. Like many other things, Japan gets Valentine’s Day completely wrong by having only women give men chocolate. There are two types of chocolate that the ladies can give: giri and honmei choco. Giri choco or 'obligation chocolate' is chocolate that you give to your male coworkers and friends. Giri chocolate is usually small and simple. Honmei choco or 'real chocolate' is chocolate that is given to your sweetheart, and they are usually large or handmade chocolates. This can be an exciting time for girls to not-so-subtly express their interest in a boy the the hoeps that he will return the gesture a month later on White Day. If the boy returns the feelings, he will also give her honmei white chocolate and they will most likely date. If he does not, then he will simply give her giri white chocolate or nothing at all, and thus crushing all her hopes.

Who doesn't love Ferrero
Valentine's Day fell on the day I visit my Satan school, and the female teachers collected money in order to buy the male teachers Valentine’s Day chocolates. Since I float between three schools, I was not asked to participate. Instead, I bought the male teachers small Ferrero Rosher chocolates while giving larger chocolates to the principal and a few other close male teachers. A month later, the male staff returned the favor, and I also received White Day chocolate from male students. What made my Valentine's Day exceptional was a care package send by my boyfriend and my mother that contained all sorts of chocolates and goodies. Care packages really help alleviate homesickness and make you appreciate your loved ones.

6th graders White Day chocolate to his favorite (and only) English teacher
For my Valentine's Day lesson, I discussed (using only English) the differences between the Valentine’s Day traditions. It blew the kids’ minds that the Western version of Valentine’s Day includes their White Day. I also had the kids make heart-shaped Valentine’s Day cards for their friends or parents and, afterward, folded the heart-shaped cards into origami envelopes.

Kindergarteners making Valentine's Day cards

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