It is Valentine’s Day and all the chocolate shops in Japan are filled by mostly women. The female gender of varied ages are moving up and down escalators that connect to chocolate shops. I look on for a while and I ask myself, are the men hiding to surprise the women in these shops? Because I see no male amongst those chocolate buyers or in the sweets shops.
In my mind’s eye, I went to Ghana and was reflecting on the many 14th February’s I had celebrated in Ghana and how this picture of seeming hurriedness I am observing amongst women in Japan had characterised the male gender around this time.
Men in the typical African setting, propose love and marriage to women, so I somewhat understood it if they made the best of every occasion to profess their love to the women in their lives. Therefore I was not amazed about seeing men in Ghana buying chocolates for women on Valentine’s Day.
(Chocolates I understand from food scientists, contains phenylamine: an endocrine that produces energy and creates feelings of joy and euphoria. Being a mild mood elevator that creates a pleasurable effect, it is the same chemical the human brain produces when it feels happy or in love. Hence, chocolates from the time of Aztecs, has been considered an aphrodisiac food that inflames desire and makes the beloved more and more open to romance. In many years past, in the tradition of European royalty, lovers mixed chocolates with amber to stimulate their love.)
On the contrary, on 14th February 2020, I saw more women than men buying chocolates. I got interested in knowing what Valentine’s Day meant in Japan. Besides I wanted to enquire if the notion about chocolates as written above will mean anything more or less if they are given by women to men other than the vice versa which is the common case in my home country.
The explanation I got is the reason for this write-up.
In Japan, women by defacto give gifts of chocolates to men on Valentine’s Day. The receiving men are usually bosses, co-workers, friends, and casual acquaintances the women have platonic relationships with. The chocolates given is an all-purpose thank you for help, advice, friendship and any other benefits the women have received from the men over the course of the year.
Commendable! I burst out. Indeed gratitude is the mother of all virtues and the Japanese, though exhibit it through little gifts of chocolates, send the deepest message of appreciation across.
They call these chocolates, “Giri Choco” ((義理チョコ) literally meaning ‘Obligation Chocolates’. I was further enlightened that ‘Obligation Chocolates’ could sometimes entail a tricky balancing act. Though it is just a gesture of gratitude for service rendered in the past which money cannot buy, it has to be accessed carefully. No one wants to look stingy, but chocolates that are too grandiose can have the man thinking if the lady is coyly expressing her desire for a relationship that goes beyond continuous friendship.
(Errrhmmm…maybe not so out of place if that is the only opportunity for a lady to attract a man’s attention in a society where morality is breathed like air and so men don’t look at women twice. Do you know that in Japan, the average of men above 40 years old are still virgins? Ssshhhh! That is a topic for another day.)
Notwithstanding that (義理チョコ) translated as Obligation Chocolates are small gifts of chocolates, but the essence of gratitude behind the gesture is what I wish my Ghanaian family will have a look at. There are seldom occasions when people who have given their best to the country are rewarded while they lived, most messages of appreciation come posthumously.
On a few times, however, senior citizens in Ghana have been remembered and appreciated. As a journalist then, I witnessed one occasion at the State House where people aged above 65 were held to a special banquet and then given some pieces of expensive “Kente”. I must say, though I can’t be very sure that the senior citizens were very highly elated about the gesture and longed for many more of those. I plead, can that act be more frequent? It may not necessarily need to be a special banquet but little gifts packaged with deep messages of gratitude enclosed. May I again ask that instead of the razzmatazz and the general alignment of Valentine’s Day to sex and everything romance, can we be like the Japanese women for once this year? Who give gifts of obligation chocolates to men generally and any other person who has been of help in their journey of life as a way of saying thank you?
Before you conclude that the gratitude is one-sided, let me mention that the men reciprocate the gesture on 14th March in a day called “White Day or White Valentine” on the Japanese calendar by also buying women sweets.
Interestingly, did you know that the gesture of gratitude is so important that the Obligation chocolates to men are moulded as tools artisanal men use every day? It is away if emphasizing that, as the man cannot go without his tools , so can we not let this day pass without saying THANK YOU in a special way, thus my title for this article, “when gratitude to men is magnified through Obligation tool chocolates on Valentine’s Day”.
Shall we all, I beseech, explore many innovative ways of saying THANK YOU to loved ones, family and friends while they yet lived? Before we put flowers on their coffins when they are no more?
Thank you for joining me appreciate the living before singing their praise when they are dead.
(I am the GHANAIAN villager that came to Japan officially known as Afiba Anyanzua Boavo Twum)
#Chocolates of Gratitude
#Valentines Day in Japan
#Appreciate the living before praising the dead