Valentine Day is nearing. In our country (Japan), Valentine Day is characterized as the day for young girls and ladies to present chocolate as a sign of love to their boyfriends, or thanks to their family, work colleagues and superiors. Among gift options, chocolates are overwhelmingly chosen as the Valentine gift. For confectionery manufacturers and retail shops, Valentine Day season is a critical moment.

The chocolate presented to one's man is called Hon Choco (favorite (sweetheart) chocolate); the ones presented to family members, colleagues and boss are called Giri-Choco (obligatory gift chocolate) which means it doesn’t accompany special love (affection) sign to receivers; ones given to ordinary friends,'Tomo-Choko (friendship chocolate), and the ones presented from males to females are called Gyaku Choco (reverse chocolate).

I understand Valentine Day gifts are not limited to chocolate in Western countries and that Westerners don’t bother with the character of chocolate or the purpose of giving Valentine Gifts. However, I’m curious to know if there are any words or concepts to correspond to our Honchoco, Girichoco, and Gyakuchoko in English.

1 Answer 1


In the US, the Valentine's chocolates are often given from the man to the woman, and there are no special designations of chocolate.

There are, however, designations when flowers are given. The type and color of flowers given on Valentine's and other days have meanings. Red roses are supposed to mean "I love you" and would be equivalent to your Hon Choco or Cyaku Choco (again, the roses are usually from the man to the woman). The meanings are often set by the flower companies, so they are as much an advertising gimmick as having any historical meaning.

On Mother's Day, at least in the past, a woman or girl would wear a white or pink carnation -- white if her mother was deceased, pink if her mother was still alive. That custom seems to be falling by the wayside.

  • 2
    thursdaysgeek. Segmentation of the chocolate by purpose for offering it as a gift seems to be a special habbit to Japan. By posting this 'Valentine chocolate' question, I was able to learn an idiom, 'Fall by wayside.' I will mind not to fall by the wayside in learnig English. Thanks for your quick input. Feb 4, 2011 at 23:56
  • 1
    I debated using the phrase "fall by the wayside" since you didn't appear to be a native English speaker, so I'm glad you found the meaning. I didn't know a better way to describe a custom that once was common but is no longer common. Feb 5, 2011 at 0:23
  • 1
    Thursday geek. In addition to Valentine Day, we have the White Day (set on March 14th every year); the day men would give a gift to women in tern of receiving a Valentine chocolate from them. I think it’s an annoying custom special to Japan. Feb 5, 2011 at 0:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.