Valentines Day in Dubai, and in Japan

chocolates valentines

This post was written in 2011. There’s not much to say about Valentines Day in Dubai as it is the same as in other countries. Although it is worth mentioning that February 15 is an Islamic Holiday – Prophet Muhammad’s birthday so hotels are gearing up for a “dry night” starting from the night before. No music and alcohol on Valentines day.

Let’s talk about one weird Valentines Day tradition I know and lived to tell (ha ha). Valentines Day in Japan.

When you hear it, it’ll take some time to believe how Japan celebrates Valentines Day until your first February 14 there. It will take a bit more time to accept the strangeness  and I haven’t been able to accept it still, even after spending 11 Valentines there.

It’s weird in Japan (at least for me) because the romantic (Valentines Day-like) date night is celebrated on Christmas Eve. On February 14th when lovers across the globe exchange gifts or at least the men give gifts, women are the ones giving the men chocolates in Japan.

Not your usual chocolates – they’ve got 2 types

  • “Giri” chocolates are relatively from the shelf, common and inexquisite (inexpensive) because they are given by women to men they do not have special love for. Ouch.

Giri means “duty” or “obligation” – what a word to be used together with chocolates and Valentines Day! Giri chocolates are usually given out by female employees to their male bosses and co-workers.

  • Honmei chocolate on the other hand, literally translates to “true feeling chocolate”.

It’s either a more expensive chocolate or a specially homemade one.

It’s funny that I had friends in the university who labor through the night before Valentines making chocolates and putting them in cute little boxes with notes. We are talking about girls here that do not even know how to turn the rice cooker on!

Something called “White Day
When the Valentine dust settles and all the chocolates are given away, ladies start a countdown: 30 days to White Day. On March 14, Japanese men give back to the women. Men, who received giri choco or honmei chocolate on Valentine’s Day, are expected to return the favor by giving gifts to women.

Do you know of any weird Valentines Day tradition? What do you think of Japan’s way of celebrating Valentines?


UPDATE: As pointed out by reader Krista, “Isn’t a birthday always on the same day? So why, if the Prophet’s birthday is on the 15th, isn’t every year a dry Valentine’s Day?”

Well, the Islamic Calendar moves 10 days earlier every year so Valentines day is not a dry day in Dubai every year. Last year’s Prophet’s birthday was on February 25, this year is on the 15th and next year will be on the 5th.

Photo credit


    1. The Islamic Calendar moves 10 days earlier, every year!! So last years Prophet’s bday was Feb 25! This year is Feb 15 and next year is Feb 5!



    1. Of course not! M and I are not big on V day. We take our wedding anniversary more seriously coz it’s like, “What? We’ve lasted another year!?” LOL



  1. I see that some cultures take V-day pretty serious. 🙂 We have an identical tradition on 24th of Feb. Women are suppose to give men bracelets made out of white and red threads which symbolize the arrival of Spring…and that’s pretty much it.



  2. That is the coolest tradition {well, not for the gentlemen who receive the Giri chocolates o.O}-I think maybe I might try this next year or late this year just because I think it would be neat and fun to learn about 🙂

    I hope you had a good Valentine’s Day!



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