Valentine’s Day…. a day that strikes fear in the heart of men everywhere as they try to not be “the guy” who forgets or who buys “that gift”.
The Japanese have a tradition on February 14 that is much different than our American tradition. On Valentines in Japan, the women buy the men chocolate and the men don’t have to buy anything.
Allegedly, the Japanese version of Valentine’s Day was established in the 1950s when a Japanese executive noticed the holiday in Europe and decided to use it to generate business for his chocolate company in Japan. Somehow in their executive meetings, the translation of how the holiday worked… where men bought chocolate and flowers for women… got turned around and thus the promotion of the day became centered on women buying chocolate for the men in their lives.
As the tradition continued in Japan, 2 kinds of chocolate gifts became culturally entrenched in the holiday. Giri Choco, or “obligation chocolate”, is one type of chocolate that is given to men by women and Honmei Choco, or “potential winner chocolate”, is the other chocolate that is given to guys. Giri Choco, is a cheaper, less expensive chocolate that is given to the guys a woman has no interest in… coworkers, bosses, casual friends… you get the idea. Honmei Choco, on the other hand, is expensive chocolate that is given to guys who a woman might have amorous feelings for…. The chocolate is often homemade and it is often accompanied by other expensive gifts.
As I think about this holiday and the Japanese culture that has developed surrounding it, I can’t help but think about the analogy of these 2 types of chocolate to our relationships. Do I often give a Giri Choco effort to my wife and family…. out of a sense of obligation or thoughtlessness, or am I looking to give Honmei Choco, a kind of effort that makes a difference in my wife and kids…. that leads them to be winners in life…
As a husband and a father, I have a responsibility to be a leader and encourager in my family. If I give Giri Choco, I don’t lead in a way that brings fulfillment and joy to my wife and kids. If I bring Honmei Choco, I lead in a way that brings out the best in my wife and kids. So… buy your wife and kids some chocolate this Valentines… but as you do, let them know that your commitment to them is to unlock in them the potential to be the winners God has made them to be.