White Day – Japan

March 14

White Day is the complementary holiday of Valentine’s Day in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Valentine’s Day is celebrated as well, but a little differently than in the U.S.

On Valentine’s Day women generally give gifts of chocolate and the sort to the men in their lives: giri choco (obligatory chocolate) and honmei-choco (chocolate with a romantic connotation).

Giri choco is given by women to their superiors at work as well as to other male co-workers. It is not unusual for a woman to buy 20 to 30 boxes of this type of chocolate for distribution around the office as well as to men that she has regular contact with.”


[Remind me to work in Japan.]

The counter-holiday, White Day, was promoted in the 1980s by the confections industry. One month after Valentine’s Day men relieve their guilt at receiving such gifts by buying the women in their lives chocolate in return. The March 14 chocolates generally cost 2 to 3 times as much as Valentine’s Day chocolates, and are boxed in white boxes, hence the name White Day.

I tend to avoid reporting on holidays promoted by the chocolate industry. Not out of any dislike of chocolate. On the contrary it’s my favorite food group. But there’s generally no rationale or history for the holiday other than to promote a particular confection. And depending on which calendar you look at, virtually every week in the year has a chocolate or candy holiday associated with it.

This week, for example, is American Chocolate Week.

March 19 is National Chocolate Caramel Day

March 24 is National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day

April hosts National Licorice Day, Chocolate-Covered Cashews Day and Jelly Bean Day.

And so on…

And National Chocolate Day? It’s on July 7.

And October 28.

And December 28.

And December 29.

You get the picture. There’s not any scrumptious chocolate candy combination you can name that doesn’t have its own holiday.

So why December 28 and 29? My guess, two more chances to indulge before those dreaded New Year’s resolutions kick in!

If you’re in Japan, enjoy a delicious, calorie-laden White Day! And if you’re in North America, I recommend celebrating two days at once with a delicious home-made Chocolate Pie.

After all, March 14 is also Pi Day!

Sadie Hawkins Day

November 13, 15, 16, or the Saturday after November 9


“For 15 years, Sadie Hawkins, homely daughter of Dogpatch’s earliest settler, had failed to catch a husband. Her Pappy in desperation one day called together all the eligible bachelors of Dogpatch…”

Thus spoke Sadie’s father:

“‘Boys! Since none o’ yo’ has been man enough t’ marry mah dotter, ah gotta take firm measures!! Ah declares t’day “Sadie Hawkins Day” — When ah fires all o’ yo kin start a-runnin’! When ah fires agin—after givin’ yo’ a fair start—Sadie starts a-runnin’. Th’ one she ketches’ll be her husband!'”

With the boom of Pappy Hawkins’ gun, artist and writer Al Capp started a sexual revolution.

The year was 1937. Al Capp, creator of the comic strip Li’l Abner, needed a plot point to move the story along in his November strip. Li’l Abner starred Abner Yokum, a small-town simpleton whose life revolved around fishin’ and not gettin’ hooked to his long-suffering girlfriend Daisy Mae. The Sadie Hawkins Day tradition fell into place. Al Capp invented a race wherein, if a woman could catch a man, she could wed him. Capp explained the reasoning behind the race in a three-panel historical flashback of the original Sadie Hawkins.

According to panel 3:

“Well, Sadie did catch one of the boys. The other spinsters of Dogpatch reckoned it were such a good idea that Sadie Hawkins Day was made an annual affair.”

Al Capp’s idea struck a cord, not just with the fictional residents of Dogpatch, but all around America. Keep in mind Al Capp came up with this back when it was frowned upon for a woman to even ask a guy out on a date or to a dance. Yet within two years of Sadie Hawkins’ original appearance, “Sadie Hawkins Day” was being celebrated at over 200 schools in 188 towns across the United States! (Life Magazine, Dec. 11, 1939.) Granted, at most of these institutions the girls didn’t marry the guys they caught. Instead, the schools held Sadie Hawkins Dances, in which girls would ask boys to the dance instead of the typical other way around.

“Costumes derive from characters in Li’l Abner. Girls generally dress as pretty Daisy Mae rather than as homely Sadie Hawkins. At Texas Wesleyan, where Bible study is a required course, a slogan for Sadie Hawkins Day was found in Daniel, XII, 4: “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Life Magazine, 12/11/39)

There is no set date for Sadie Hawkins Day. Lil-abner.com cites November 15 and November 16, 1937 as the first appearances of Sadie Hawkins. Other sources say November 13. Regardless of its first appearance, Sadie Hawkins Day is generally celebrated on November 13, 15, 16, or the first Saturday after November 9. A few sites insist that Sadie Hawkins Day is February 29, a date that would no doubt please Abner himself. (Others disagree.)

As it turns out, Daisy did not catch Abner that first Sadie Hawkins Day in 1937. In fact, it wasn’t until 1952 that Al Capp bowed to public pressure and allowed Daisy and Abner to tie the knot, an event that made the cover of Life Magazine.


Incidentally, Capp himself would not have fared well in any Sadie Hawkins Day race. As a nine-year old boy in New Haven, the future comic writer was run over by a trolley and lost his left leg.

“All comedy is based on man’s delight in man’s inhumanity to man…I have made 40 million people laugh more or less every day for 16 years (on that formula)…”

“…We didn’t laugh because we were heartless wretches. We laughed because we are normal human beings, full of self-doubt, full of vague feelings of inferiority, full of a desperate need to be reassured.” Al Capp, Atlantic Monthly, February 1950


“It is the ambition of every newspaper cartoonist to get published in something that won’t be used to wrap fish in the next morning.” Al Capp, Atlantic Monthly

My Well-Balanced Life on a Wooden Leg, by Al Capp, Review by Bobby Matherne

Al Capp, Time Magazine: Inhuman Man

The Comic Book Makers, by Joe Simon

Qixi – Night of Sevens

7th night of the 7th month, Chinese Lunar
August 6, 2011
August 23, 2012

According to Chinese tradition, when a man proposes on The Night of Sevens, his bride to be is blessed by seven fairies from the heavens that brings luck in uniting their love forever.

How To Propose on the Night of Sevens


It’s Valentine’s Day in China. But it’s not named for a 3rd century Roman saint. Today’s “Qixi” Festival (Night of Sevens) has its roots in the legend of the Weaver Princess and the Cowherd.

There are many versions of the story. In one, a Weaver Princess comes down from the heavens to do a little skinny dipping. A Cowherd happens across her and—urged on by his mischievous ox—steals the Princess’s clothes. When the Princess finally comes out of the water to retrieve them, she has to agree to his proposal of marriage, as he had seen her in the buff (’cause them’s the rules.)

The Princess grows to love the Cowherd and together they have two kids; however, when the Princess’s grandfather, the Jade Emperor (some sources say her mother) hears about the match, he is not happy. He forces the Princess back to the Heavens, where her job is to weave the clouds. The Princess is the star known as Vega.

When the Cowherd, through some misadventures of his own, finally makes it up to the heavens to see her with their two kids, the Emperor separates them, placing a great river in the sky between them. The river is the Milky Way, and the Cowherd is the star Altair. Their two children are the smaller stars beside him.

It’s said that the two lovers are allowed to meet only once a year, in mid-summer, on the 7th evening of the 7th moon in the Chinese lunar calendar.

Qixi means “Night of Sevens” but it’s also called “Daughter’s Day.” In Japan, it is known as Tanabata and is also celebrated on July 7th. (7/7)

The traditions and rituals related to the festival have gone through several incarnations over the past 2000 years. These days Qixi is a day of romance for lovers and can be compared in many ways to Valentine’s Day in the West.

anti-Valentine’s Day in Russia?

July 8

From Q++ Worldwide Public Holidays

“Russia’s First Lady, Svetlana Medvedeva, is chairing a comittee to celebrate July 8th as a Russian “anti-Valentine’s Day”, with emphasis on family, mariage and long-term faithfulness, rather than what she (and many in Russia) considers the shallowness of Saint-Valentine’s celebration of short-term infatuation.

“If this year’s first July 8 celebration of SS. Piotr and Fevronia (two 13th century Russian Orthodox Saints who were married and buried in the same coffin) is a success, Mrs. Medvedev has promised to make it an official public holiday in Russia.”


Dia dos Namorados – Day of the Enamored

June 12

St. Valentine gets all the credit for bringing lovers together in the Northern Hemisphere, but in Brazil, that honor goes to Saint Anthony.

St. Anthony is the patron saint of Lisbon, Portugal, as well as of lovers and newlyweds. He died on June 13, 1231 in Padua, Italy, at the age of 36. The eve before his feast day in early June is the perfect time for Brazilians to celebrate with their special someone. Especially since in Brazil, February 14 falls smack dab in the middle of Carnival season and people have enough holidays to worry about without getting in a passive-aggressive fight with their girlfriend because they forgot to get a gift.

So next time your sweetheart is upset that you totally flaked on Valentine’s Day, surprise her on June 12th by explaining how you were waiting for the real lovers’ day: Dia dos Namorados.

And if that doesn’t fly (and it won’t), break out Bardanza.

Open your hands,
Give me the roses
You brought just for me.

Open your heart,
Write me a poem,
Read me the best part
Of our story.
I am still here,
Contemplating your sweetness,
Expecting your caress.

Open all the doors,
Here is the key…
Open the windows too,
Touch my soul again,
Say “I love you”…

Open up yourself to me
Forgive my mistakes,my madness,
I couldn’t stand your silence.
I couldn’t stand your coldness…

from “Forgive Me” by Karla Bardanza (Brazil)

St. Anthony
St. Anthony