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Valentine's Day is a holiday celebrated across much of the world on February 14th. The practice of the holiday is much different in Japan then in the Western parts of the world.
The name for the Valentine holiday some from several of the Catholic saints that were named Valentine. Two such of those saints were Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Temi. The holiday's association with romance didn't begin until the high middle ages in the social circles of Geoffry Chaucer. This was back in the time chivalry and courtship.
The most common way to celebrate the holiday is to send flowers and confections to loved ones. Since the Nineteenth Century, the holiday suffered and become grossly over commercialized. What was once a celebration of all things romantic has become what is more derisively referred to as a "Hallmark Holiday".
The Japanese, and most other Asian cultures, celebrate Valentine's Day in almost the reverse fashion they the way the Western world does. Back in 1960 a Japanese confection company began the tradition of only women giving out chocolate to men. Though, like the Western world it's become more of a social obligation for a woman to present male coworkers with some kind of chocolate. The popularity of a man is sometimes measured by how many sets of chocolate he acquires.
There are different kinds of chocolate given out depending upon the relationship of the people. These fall under the categories of co-worker, loved one, or friends. Unlike the Western traditions, in Japan there is also a holiday when this favor is expected to be returned one month later on March 14th, called White Day. The Japanese National Confectionery Industry Association also refers to this as "Reply Day". The men who received the chocolate are expected to perform some kind of favor for the woman who gave them the chocolate.
The types of chocolate often speak to the relationship between the woman to the man she is giving the chocolate to. Normally, the better the relationship the more expensive or higher quality the chocolate.
The Favorite Chocolate are the gift that are given to loved ones. This is often the highest quality of chocolate and some time is often put into it's creation. A girl may actually melt and mold chocolate herself into a bar, heart, or other shaped forms. Sometimes a message will be written on the chocolate and gift wrapped. The name comes from the word "honmei" meaning "favorite, sure thing" and "choko" meaning "chocolate".
The Friends Chocolate is the gift given out to friends. This could also be a type of give that girls will give to each other. The practice isn't as common with men to each other. The quality of the chocolate is normally of better quality than the chocolate given to coworkers or employers. The name comes from the word "tomodachi" meaning "friend" and "choko" meaning "chocolate".
The Obligation Chocolate is the most common gift to coworkers. This is often store bought or mass produced forms of chocolate. The name comes from the word "giri" meaning "obligation", and "choko" meaning "chocolate".
This type of chocolate is given to very unpopular male coworkers. It could be seen as a form of sympathy gift.