The word chugen refers to a midyear courtesy gift given to people who have helped you including your bosses and teachers. Chugen are also given to business acquaintances including customers and people who you have done business with. Chugen are supposed to be given during the period from July 1st through July 15th. The word chugen was introduced from China to Japan and it originally meant the 15th day of the 7th month of the year according to the lunar calendar. In Japan, that day fell on the last day of the Lantern Festival (the Bon Festival) which is a day when relatives customarily gathered to hold religious services for their ancestors. People gave presents of rice, noodles, and other such items on that day. This gift giving continued after the Gregorian Calendar was adopted and people still exchange such midyear gifts (chugen) today. Chugen are usually called o-chugen to show respect for the person they are given to. The o added in front of the word chugen shows respect. Chugen may be given to bosses at your company or wherever you work, friends and acquaintances who have helped you, children’s private tutors, relatives, and other people who have assisted you in some way. Businesses and stores may also give o-chugen to their customers and the people they do business with. People primarily give o-chugen to express their appreciation for kindness and assistance that they have received. When gift exchanges in the business world are done, however, they are usually just a mere formality. Department stores throughout Japan are crowded with shoppers purchasing gifts during both the chugen period in summer and the seibo (year-end gift) period at the end of the year.