As the welcoming of the New Year celebrations of January come to an end, the preparations for the Chinese New Year and Valentines Day begin. Chinese New Year is on February 9th this year. Previously, most of the local businesses closed on the Chinese New Year to celebrate the major ties with and influences of traditional China on the local Ryukyu Island culture. As the years have passed, the holiday seems to have been lost in the shuffle to modernize. However, I am told that Itoman – still viewed as “a fishing village” by many of the older locals – has continued the tradition of honoring the Chinese influences and the moon calendar of years gone by.
Valentines Day, on the other hand, continually gains momentum as another one of the major, commercialized, modern events. Forget trying to go on an impromptu date on this day on Okinawa. All the select eateries will be booked well in advance. Whereas the holiday started off as a celebration of affection in the Western culture, as with many things in the local culture Valentine’s Day has been taken to the extreme in Japan. The romanticized view is that office girls slip a little chocolate tidbit into the desks of male coworkers so that no male feels “unwanted.” But the more savvy girls take great care in slipping-in just the right tidbit to the more prominent male workers of the organization. And leave it to Japanese businesses to create a day of reciprocation, White Day, which takes place in March.
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