Valentine’s day is just behind us and I am of course very happy for those of you who were fortunate enough to spend it with a loved one. What a joyous occasion, February 14th, the best day to show exactly how much your loved one means to you (for some on social media) in the name of St. Valentine. Valentine’s day has many origin stories, my favorite is the pagan celebration Lupercalia. Priests would sacrifice goats and slap men and women with the bloody hide, how crazy is that!? You may think ‘oh my god, how horrible!’ However, men and women both welcomed these bloody slaps, after all for them it meant that they would be more fertile. Unfortunately, the Christian faith ruined this one and now we are stuck with letters, chocolates and flowers, and if you’re feeling adventurous then handcuffs, whips or maybe a Kamasutra poster. 

So, there you are, it is February 15th and yesterday your loved one/lover/weird stalker neighbor got you a Valentine’s day present. It is extremely thoughtful and so sweet and maybe even expensive or costs a lot of effort, you on the other hand didn’t get them anything… What do you do?

Well, if it was the stalker then maybe tell your friends and inform the police. However, for the first two situations, be it your lover or your loved one, there is a solution! 

It is called White Day! This day originated in the Hakata region, Japan, in the 1970’s. The story is a bit less dramatic than being slapped with goat’s blood but it is actually pretty nice. First a small lesson about how things work in the East when it comes to Valentine’s day. On this day it is customary for women, both young, mature, single or married to gift their male loved ones with chocolate. The chocolate would be homemade, or store bought, this of course translates directly to the more effort you put into it the more you love the person whom you gifted it to. In the late 1970’s a Japanese businessman was reading an article in a magazine; A woman was sharing her grievances with the status quo, “It’s not really fair that men get chocolate from women on Valentine’s Day, but they don’t return the favor. Why don’t they give us something? A handkerchief, candy, even marshmallows…”. 

So, this very intelligent businessman, Zengo Ishimura, thought of creating a holiday for women to also receive something from their loved ones. 

So that’s how the famous Eastern holiday ‘White Day’ began. With a simple request for reciprocation, a woman just saying, ‘I want some affection as well’. This is the truest form of request for equality that there is. For the West it may be not so much an issue for equality as now everyone of every gender and sexuality openly gifts their loved ones a token of affection and no matter how small, it is always the thought that counts, even when it is a super crappy present, the person always appreciates and loves the one that cared enough to give them that horrible present. So, when it comes to equality, we are doing pretty well in this regard… Of course, there is always room for improvement (Epass ProTip). 

What we do need is help in the memory part. Sometimes in the West we tend to be very forgetful. Even more so when doing medicine, constantly busy worrying about the next thing on the list, our next exam, next workday, next meeting and always the next Epass deadline. Thankfully many of these things have reminders on Canvas. However, Valentine’s day doesn’t… You see it coming from miles away with advertisements on social media, your favorite influencer is probably trying to sell you on a certain item as a gift idea (which you will probably go with, let’s be honest…). Yet, it is still something that some of us (even me, many times) tend to forget. This is honestly the worst, because you are then sometimes either stuck giving a gift later with a lot of regret or having to wait a year to make up for it and risking possibly forgetting again. So, why don’t we just adopt this Eastern holiday and give ourselves a month to give back to the loved one that cared so much for us. Without any annoying guilt of being ‘late’ or ‘having forgotten’ them. So, for the continuation of equality and tender loving care, if you forgot to give that special someone something to express your feelings then don’t worry, you can still get something on the 14th of March and just refer to this article as proof of concept. 

As always, thanks for reading and best of luck to you in your endeavors and adventures of love, it ain’t easy and Rona is not making it any easier. Keep your spirits up and keep on showing that affection, to yourself and to your loved one, to get through in one piece. 

With much love,

Sahil

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