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Valentine’s Day

Reuters has two stories up today about the modern tradition in Japan of women giving chocolate to the men in their lives on Valentine’s Day. The first article discusses how tired women are growing of the time and expense involved.

According to an Internet survey, 70 percent of working women said they would be happy if there was no tradition of giving “obligatory chocolates” to their boyfriends or colleagues.

Nearly 60 percent said they felt unhappy as Valentine’s Day approached, citing the cost and time it takes to shop for the gifts, which are finely calculated to express just the right emotions towards a boss, a colleague or a true boyfriend.

The custom has grown into a sweet 50 billion yen (245 million pound) market for Japan’s chocolate makers, some of whom rake in 20 to 30 percent of annual profits in a few short weeks.

At the end of the article, it is mentioned that women are more and more starting to spend a lot of money buying chocolate for themselves. The second article goes into this phenomenon more deeply.

It used to be Japanese women gave men a gift of chocolates on Valentine’s Day.

These days, they’re more likely to buy pricey chocolates costing up to $200 (115 pounds) a box as a treat for themselves.

[…]

Until recently, most Japanese women bought cellophane-wrapped sweets in bulk from drugstores to give to colleagues or school friends as an “obligatory chocolate” on Valentine’s Day.

[…]

Premium chocolates are often imported from countries like Belgium and France, with imports worth 36.8 billion yen in 2004/05, up about 36 percent from a decade ago, according to association estimates.

Chocolate aficionados are also beginning to favour high-quality sweets with a high cocoa content and complex tastes, achieved by blending bulk beans with prized flavour beans from countries like Venezuela and Ecuador.

The Japanese, however, are still modest chocolate consumers by global standards, swallowing about 4.85 pounds per person each year, compared to Switzerland’s 24.9 pounds and Germany’s 23.1 pounds.

As for me, I’ve been buying Sean chocolate regularly since Christmas (he favors dark chocolate and has especially enjoyed Hershey’s Dark Kisses), so I’m not sure I really need to do anything :> (Besides, I haven’t come across a dark chocolate Valentine’s box.)