A Heartfelt Day

This is Stephanie of IMS.


Only two more days left! Have you bought or made all your chocolates, yet? I admit when I first learned of the fervor to which Japan celebrates Valentine’s Day, I was a bit surprised! Although Valentine’s Day has been around in Western culture in various forms since the 14th century, it’s only been the last couple of centuries that it has taken the shape we know today.


In the United States, Valentine’s Day is very popular, even among schoolchildren. In elementary school I remember decorating a shoebox in pinks and reds for the holiday, including glitter and hearts! Then, like the rest of my classmates, we each placed our Valentine’s Day “mailbox” on our desks before exchanging cards and candy with our friends. (Sometimes, we had to give candy to everyone, but giri choco is better than nothing, right?)



Valentine’s Day last year was my first experience with the Japanese tradition of the holiday. In the U.S., it’s mainly the men who give things to the ones they like, but women also participate as well. Gifts range from chocolates, to flowers and dinner, to jewelry, and even teddy bears! But there is no culture of giving chocolates to everyone in the office. Americans generally only give gifts to friends and family, so needing to buy chocolates (and souvenirs) for an entire office would be rather unheard of.


I’m still learning to remember when and to whom I should buy souvenirs and gifts, but it’s becoming easier with each trip and holiday. I’ve even started sending New Year’s cards to my friends living overseas! But next year when Valentine’s Day rolls around again, maybe as an “American flair” I should give out cards like I used to…