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How would I describe the designated object of someone's affections on Valentine's Day?

The meaning I'm referring to is meaning 2 on Wiktionary:

A person to whom a valentine is given or received, especially on February 14th.

Won't you be my valentine?

Goo.ne and Yahoo! Japan describe the concept in Japanese as

この祭日に選ばれる恋人;(一般に)恋人.

Is there a word for this concept in Japanese, and if so, what is it?

If it's relevant, it's being used to describe a guy in Japan, rather than a woman in western countries.

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If there is a word for this concept in Japanese, then English-Japanese dictionaries should state that word as a translation, shouldn’t they? –  Tsuyoshi Ito Dec 24 '12 at 13:35
    
@TsuyoshiIto I tried Wiktionary and jisho.org. Wiktionary didn't have a translation for this particular meaning, and jisho.org didn't have an entry for this particular concept. And you can see what happened with goo.ne and Yahoo! Japan. In addition, people on lang-8 weren't sure how to translate it. Are there other resources I should have tried before asking? –  Andrew Grimm Dec 24 '12 at 20:56
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No. The point of my previous comment is that the answer to your question “Is there a word for this concept in Japanese?” should be clear from the fact that you did not find any word for this concept in the English-Japanese dictionaries which you looked up. If there were one, those dictionaries would list it. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Dec 24 '12 at 21:17

3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I think the closest word would be 本命, although the meaning might be a bit different.

本命 refers to the person the women is confessing her love by giving him chocolate at Valentine. It's probably close to the English word "Crush", although it is implied that the woman is actively trying to get together with him.

As for the phrase Won't you be my valentine?, I think 本命チョコ受け取って could be the closest. Note however that this sounds more juvenile compared to Won't you be my valentine?.

These special chocolates are called 本命チョコ and are distinguishable from 義理チョコ by how fancy it is, how intricate the wrapping is, what the content of the accompanying message card is etc. (Just about any Japanese male can write a book on how to distinguish 本命チョコ from 義理チョコ ;)

For most Japanese women, valentine day is pretty much the only occasion where they can confess their love to men (instead of vice versa), so it's very significant. Japanese teenagers are particularly obsessed with 本命チョコ in Valentine season.

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Valentine's Day has a slightly different importance in Japan than what I am used to in Europe.

In Japan, the act of giving chocolate for Valentine's Day has spread to all areas of life, in particular to the workplace. You (are expected to) give chocolate to your boss and your colleagues with the slight twist that only women give chocolate only to men. (The men are given the chance to "return" the chocolate on March 14th, with the slight twist that now it needs to be white chocolate; therefore March 14th is called ホワイトデー. Those who cannot afford white chocolate are allowed to repay their debt in sweets or cookies.) Of course you can choose to give chocolate to your friends or your 恋人 (as long as you are a woman and your 恋人 is a man), but the focus is on preparing enough 義理チョコ ("obligatory chocolate") for your workplace.

Hence, there is no place for the concept of a "valentine" in the sense you asked for.

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だよね~(もじすうがたりない) –  Choko Dec 27 '12 at 12:27

I have only heard people in Japan refer to "Valentine's day" but my Apple dictionary gives three meanings:

  1. ローマのキリスト教殉教者;その祝日は2月14日.
  2. バレンタインの贈り物
  3. この祭日に選ばれる恋人

All of which are compatible with my understanding of the day:

St. Valentine's Day is a feast day in the Anglican church (among others). It began as a celebration of an early Christian saint named Valentinus. He was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. He is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer before his execution and wrote, "from your Valentine" as a farewell to her. The day's association with romantic love grew in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the Middle Ages. By the 15th century, it had evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines"). Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards. (IOW: Where as it was highjacked by greetings card companies in Europe, this was done by the chocolate companies in Japan.)

However the gifts are not necessarily "the valentines" for everybody: The expression "Would you be my valentine?" (or lover) echoes the legend and its use in Shakespeare's Ophelia ("To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,All in the morning betime, And I a maid at your window, To be your Valentine.")

Incidentally, I am not sure about other Western countries but in the UK it is the day when you can declare your love anonymously to the person you admire: The cards should be unsigned, with possibly a clue to add to the fun and the newspapers enjoy the extra revenue from publishing hundreds of anonymous personal messages.

(This is largely borrowed from a longer entry in Wikipedia)

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