Happy Valentine's Day, I guess.
To get straight to the point today, Japan's views on Valentine's Day has evolved into a monster that is totally independent from what it actually is, was, or at least what it's understood to be in the English speaking world.
Valentine's Day in Japan isn't about sending or making Valentine's cards along with chocolate - it's all about those darn chocolates.
Oh it's the season of war, for girls. Valentine's is used as an opportunity for girls to give chocolate to their crush and effectively profess her love (to hopefully snag that man for herself). The popular guys get chocolates from many, many girls - the 'guy with a truckload of chocolates on V-Day' is a fiction trope.
And that the custom of handing out chocolates escalated. Escalated, I tell you. You don't necessarily only give to your romantic partner/that guy you're after, and male family members.
There's the 'friend chocolates' that you hand out to your girl friends to solidify and reaffirm your relationships a concrete way.
And then there's the whole thing of 'obligatory' or 'duty' chocolates to coworkers/classmates/guy friends. These chocolates are a few ranks lower in quality or care taken to make/buy and are distributed at quite a quantity. There was a recent article on the internets about how male coworkers are disappointed if a female worker does not hand out 'obligatory' chocolates on Valentine's. They actually expect these chocolates from women.
So the distribution of chocolates on Valentine's day to everyone around her is quite literally, a duty a woman has to perform in order to be legitimated and considered good/thoughtful in the male world. It's a day where women have to reaffirm stereotypical feminine qualities of giving, caring, and mindful of others. Emphasis on the 'giving (to males)' part. These chocolates are no longer about love or compassion, but about social relationship-building/managing in a very gender-specific pattern.
And so, Valentine's Day is a major event for girls. Many stress (or be high up in the clouds) over the perfect chocolate they're gonna give to their (potential) man, as much as over what to mass-distribute to all them other people in their lives. What I'm getting at is, Valentine's is such a complicated and problematic event in Japan. *sigh*
This year I've got amazing friends who have shown me much kindness, and for once in my life I'm enjoying my birthday. And I've got a birthday twin, which is super awesome.
Aw yeah, happy birthday Jess!!!