While Valentine’s Day in many countries might spark images of red roses, romantic dinners, and lovers generally spoiling each other, here in Japan it’s a day when women give chocolate to all the men in their lives.
Boyfriends and husbands receive honmei choco (“true feelings chocolate”), while all other men receive giri choco (“obligation chocolate”). These days, women give out tomo choco (“friend chocolate”) to female friends as well.
Men who receive gifts from women on Valentine’s Day are supposed to return the favor with a small gift on White Day a month later, on March 14. However, given that women have to lead the way on Feb 14, there’s an underlying pressure to ensure that chocolates are given to all the right male colleagues and friends in their circle to save themselves from committing a faux pas and causing offense.
Needless to say, Valentine’s Day can be a stressful and expensive experience for women, making the custom of giri choco a controversial one. In recent years, famous chocolate brands have weighed in on the debate, questioning its relevance in today’s modern world, and now more and more Japanese companies are stepping in to ban the practice from offices.
This increase in companywide bans on giri choco made headlines today, following a survey which revealed that almost 40 percent of male and female office workers see the practice of giri choco as a form of power harassment.
News site ANN reported the findings, questioning people on the streets to gauge their opinion on the matter, and visiting a workplace where giri choco has been banned for the past six years. Everyone they interviewed all showed overwhelming support for companywide bans on giri choco, saying it helps to ease unnecessary pressure on women and have a positive effect on workplace relations.
As one of the female office workers in the video mentioned, “Before the office ban, we had to worry about things like how much is appropriate to spend on each chocolate and where we draw the line in who we give the chocolates to, so it’s good that we no longer have this culture of forced giving.”
As this notion of “forced giving” or “obligation” becomes increasingly tied to feelings of power harassment, which companies are taking very seriously, it appears that more and more offices might do away with the tradition of giri choco in the future. Which, if this Godiva statement is anything to go by, will be something that even luxury chocolate brands can agree with.
Source: ANN via Livedoor News, Hachima Kiko
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