Along with Christmas, Valentine's Day has become somewhat so commercialised that everyone is cashing in on these events. In a country like Japan that loves novelty and has a culture of gift-giving, these are perfect opportunities for retailers.
I'm really astonished by the many creative ideas for gifts and lovely merchandises that they come up for these events. Each elaborately packaged that I'd buy just because they look pretty!
However, Valentine's Day is celebrated a little differently in Japan, and also South Korea. On Feb 14, the grrls get gifts (usually chocolates) for the guys. There are 2 types - one is the usual where if the grrl likes a guy, she would give presents to express her feelings, and the other is called "obligatory" chocolates for female colleagues to give to their male colleagues.
One month later on Mar 13, it will be the guys' turn. In the 1st scenario if the guy is interested in the grrl, he would get her gifts. Then the grrl would know for sure how he felt. Please don't ask me why it takes 1 month for the guy to respond!
This year as with previous year, the IT grrls pooled some money and bought "obligatory" chocolates to the guys in the IT department. Since usually guys outnumber grrls, we had to spend a bit to ensure the guys don't get measly chocolates.
It became such a topic of contention because some felt it was not fair, another pointed out this year's cost was higher because more guys joined the department recently. One even suggested we should just call it off if no one really wanted to give, just because it's a "culture".
I told the organiser, that it's the thoughts that count. Trying to explain this phrase, I illustrated by saying, even if the gift was handmade and not necessarily expensive, I'm sure the recipient would appreciate it.