Components

Point of interest: バレンタインデー

バレンタインデー - Valentine's Day in Japan
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Valentine's Day (バレンタインデー), celebrated on February 14th, is fast becoming one of the world's most popular unofficial annual holidays. Named for Saint Valentine, who according to legend would perform marriage ceremonies for persecuted Christians in ancient Rome, the day began to be associated with courtly romance in the time of Chaucer.
Around the world, ways of celebrating Valentine's Day vary, and Japan's is especially unusual, in that the custom is for females to give chocolates to male co-workers! The chocolate tradition arises from the fact that Valentine's Day was first introduced to Japan by a chocolate company, but the origin of the idea of females being responsible for the gifts is not clear - one theory is that it was due to a translation error in early chocolate marketing campaigns!
Today, the chocolate given is given the name
ぎり
チョコ, which literally means 'obligation chocolate', but might more helpfully translated as 'obligatory-gift chocolate'. is a very central concept in Japanese culture, and refers to the idea of duty or obligation (to one's superiors, peers or society). contrasts with
にんじょう
or 'human emotion', and the dichotomy between the two is a very common theme in traditional Japanese drama. A common social theme in modern Japan is that the
しんじんるい
, the 'new generation', is much more individualistic, and less concerned with obligation to society.
Of course, in some cases the chocolate being given might be accompanied by a real sense of romance, in which case it is known as
ほんめい
チョコ ('true feeling chocolate'). Friends may also exchange
とも
チョコ, 'friend chocolate'.
To even up the score, uniquely in Japan, Valentine's Day is followed exactly one month later by White Day (ホワイトデー), when males who received chocolate should return the favor, this time typically in the form of gifts. The generally-accepted rule is
さんばいがえいし
, 'three times return' - the gifts returned should be worth three times as much as the gifts received!
Japan also has an entirely separate holiday for romance -
たなばた
, the Tanabata Festival, which more closely mirrors the Western concept of Valentine's Day.
To practice your Valentine's Day vocabulary, read Kanshudo's short story,
ぎり
義理
チョコ?
, in the Reading Corner.

Words used in this point of interest

noun
Valentine's Day
(click the word to view an additional 3 forms)
TEST
1. duty; sense of duty; honor; honour; decency; courtesy; debt of gratitude; social obligation
2. in-law; relation by marriage
1
4
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noun
choco(late)
6
TEST
noun
obligatory-gift chocolate, courtesy chocolate, obligation chocolate
(click the word to view an additional 1 form)
TEST
noun
1. humanity; empathy; kindness; sympathy
2. human nature; common sense; customs and manners
1
4
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noun
new breed of humans (used to refer to the younger generation, who have different ideals and sensibilities)
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noun
1. favorite; favourite; sure thing; likely winner; certainty
2. one's heart's desire
6
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noun
White Day (March 14th)
(click the word to view an additional 3 forms)
TEST
three times return; return of 3x
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noun
Festival of the Weaver (July 7th); Star Festival (one of the five annual festivals)  (see also: 五節句)
(click the word to view an additional 1 reading and 4 forms)
5
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Kanji used in this point of interest

ギ    honour   
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5
リ    logic   
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2
ジン   ニン   ひと man   
1
ジョウ   セイ   なさ emotion; circumstances   
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3
シン   あたらしい    あら    にい- new   
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2
ルイ   たぐ kind, type   
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3
ホン   book   もと origin   
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1
メイ   ミョウ    fate, life   いのち life   
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3
ユウ   とも friend   
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1
サン   み    みっ three   
1
バイ    double, times   
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4
ヘン   かえ to return, to come back   かえ to return (something)   
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3
シチ   seven   なな    なな    なの    
1
セキ   ゆう night   
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2
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