White Day candies and other sweets come in fancy wrapping.
St. Valentine's Day in Japan is a day when women give the special men in their lives boxes of chocolate. To balance out the one-sidedness of this practice, White Day was invented for men to reciprocate such gifts. While Valentine's Day is an imported convention, White Day (on March 14) is a purely Japanese creation.
Just as with the giving of chocolates on Valentine's, the driving force behind the popularization of White Day was a confectionery maker. A company making marshmallows launched a campaign in 1965 urging men to repay valentine gifts with soft, fluffy marshmallows. The name White Day comes from the color of the candy, and at first it was called Marshmallow Day.
Women also receive other kinds of gifts in return for the chocolates they gave a month ago.
When chocolatiers saw the opportunity to expand their business, they began marketing white chocolates, and other candy makers soon jumped on the bandwagon. Gradually, the original association with marshmallows disappeared; today, men no longer limit their purchases to confections, giving women handkerchiefs, accessories, and other gifts.
According to a survey conducted by a Tokyo department store in 1996, the White Day gift that made women happiest was flowers accompanied by a greeting card - regardless of whether the chocolates given a month earlier were for their honmei (true sweethearts) or to fulfill their giri (obligation) to classmates or colleagues.