Valentine’s Day is a difficult holiday for guys. We have notoriously
bad memories for giving gifts. It gets even worse when the gifts are
supposed to mean something.  When we do remember, we buy flowers
we don’t understand, tickets to movies or plays we don’t want to see,
or dinners at places we can’t afford. The alternative is buying
something we do like and understand and risk the greater personal
costs. Then there’s the risk, particularly acute when dating when
expectations are delicately balanced, of getting something too small or
too extravagant.

This is why I’ve liked the way the Japanese
handle the holiday. Valentine’s Day in Japan is a day when women give
gifts to men. In the office it’s giri choco, obligation
chocolate, for all the male co-workers. Women invite men to dinner, buy
various gifts, and expect nothing in return that day. A month later is
White Day when men buy women gifts. This has two advantages over the
current system. First, men become aware of the impending need for
gift-buying. Second, they are conscious of the expected sentimental and
monetary value of their giving.

Of course, this would have been
more effective at prompting immediate change if written before
Valentine’s Day, but that gets back to the point about remembering the
holiday. So, for the men who are scrambling for that last-minute rose
bouquet, this might be a good time to show your appreciation for Asian
wisdom without taking a yoga class.