How a Western celebration has been Japanized
You don't have to live in Japan very long to notice the culture of giving. Many of the traditions go back for centuries to a society based on rice culture. During the planting and harvesting seasons, everyone needed a cooperative effort to get the jobs done. "I help you today, and you help me tomorrow". It is not hard to understand the importance of keeping good relations with your neighbors.
This continued into the era where there was a give and take among Warriors, Farmers, Craftsmen and Merchants, and a hierarchy was established in that order. (After all, the Lords were paid off in rice).
I became aware of the two "gift-giving seasons" soon after arriving in Japan. Among my English students was a class that was made up of a doctor and a dentist and their families and friends. Twice a year, during mid summer and again at the year's end, I was passed bags of fruit and other edibles that had piled up in their houses faster than they could be consumed before spoiling. (The medical profession being rather high in the hierarchy).
Years later, when my husband had manager-type jobs in financial institutions, the gifts began to arrive at our door during those same times of year. I also remember there was a certain number of people to whom we were obligated to give gifts. Even these days, twice a year, gifts, usually of edibles, are exchanged. Right now we are still consuming the last of a box of apples and a box of oranges and a giant salmon that arrived before Christmas. Just as the dentist friend, we take a few of those things to other homes in the neighborhood or to relatives so they can be consumed before they spoil.
So ... what does this have to do with Valentine's Day? Somewhere in the 50's, a well known Chocolate company promoted valentine's day as the time for a girl to give a box of expensive chocolates to some guy that she wanted to attract. I suppose some attractive guys got lots of chocolate, while others may have been depressed by getting nothing. To even things out, there was also cheaper chocolates for the girl to give to other guys in the office out of obligation. Can you imagine the guy who mistakes the chocolate for a gift of affection? Or the wife, whose husband brings home a big box of expensive chocolate? Oh yes, every year my husband brings home boxes of chocolate but so far, no one has stolen him away. Now we have guys looking at the value of the gift and wondering the reason behind it. Valentine cards? Forget it. Those are for pre-school kids!
And... since this is a gift-giving culture ... there needs to be a day when those guys can give back. Thus, "White Day" was created a month later, March 14th, when the guys return the gifts. Men are expected to return gifts that are at least two or three times more valuable than what they received. A marshmallow company tried to promote their product but white chocolate and even gifts of jewelry, accessories, and even lingerie are usual.
The romantic "date night" ? Not on valentines day. That is celebrated at Christmas.
As an aside, my husband says a survey shows a trend toward more modernization of times in that women are less likely to need a special opportunity to express their admiration or gratitude to men.
What that will mean to the chocolate industry, I have no idea. As of now, they make half their annual sales during this time of year. Also, I have told my husband that I won't give him chocolates (he is diabetic) if he promises not to get me lingerie.
So, what is happening in the quilting department? This silk with the stabilizer is layered over other pieces plus the kasuri background. Quilting through all these layers is less than a picnic! The large area of the fish body will need some kind of quilting and I am considering rather large scale scales in random groups.
When I consider all those Tokyo Dome quilts with their tiny tiny stitches, I don't know how those quilters could get such small stitches in this kind of fabric other than stab-stitching. I keep telling my Scouts, "Just do your best and that's good enough". I guess the time has come for me to follow my own advice.
Just maybe a cup of coffee and a taste of chocolate ... to get in the mood.
Happy Valentine's Day to all my blogging friends!