Today is February 14th which (would you believe) is Valentines Day here in Japan too. I had not a notion of what date it was. I’ve never been a Valentines Day supporter, my mammy once told me it was for Hallmark not for the heart and I follow her thoughts. I believe it’s better to get treats when you least expect them instead of on a day that everyone else is greedy for them…really very greedy!
On my way to school every day I pass four Junior High school girls, I have never seen these kids other than walking past them in the exact same spot at 7.34am every day, they know my name and they smile from ear to ear and shout ‘Good morning Hannah’. They pass their smile to my face and I return the greeting. For Christmas I gave them each a lolly pop and wished them a Happy New Years (to their extreme delight). Today each girl had made me a Valentines treat, the cutest little handmade doughnuts wrapped beautifully. Valentine’s day can be pretty lovely after all.
In Japan, things are a little different from Ireland. Instead of a mutual exchange of chocolates, flowers, cards ect… it is traditionally all up to the girls to do the work here. It’s a day where chocolate (and pretty much just chocolate) is given to the boys from the girls. They are supposed to slave over the stove and make something to give to the boy they like, then expect nothing in exchange. They do have ‘White Day’ on March 14th where the girl gets white chocolate in exchange, but that’s pretty harsh, having to wait one month and what if I like the dark stuff better?
One teacher told me that it’s a month later because it gives the boy time to decide whether the girl has earned a return gift… longest most miserable month ever for that poor nervous girl. That’s one teacher though and maybe they were taking advantage of my foreigness…that happens a lot!
I also heard that Japanese women are usually too shy to express their love. Therefore, Valentine’s Day was thought to be a great opportunity to let women express their feelings.
All morning there has been students giggling into the staff room to give their male teachers handmade chocolate treats, you can’t help but smile at such nice gestures. Turns out that wherever you come from can take what you want from this day, if you bend the traditions you can put a smile on the most unexpected of faces. Do something different, do something new but more importantly do it on whatever day you want to.