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China’s “Singles Day” Sets Worldwide Record
Singles' Day or Guanggun Jie (Chinese: 光棍节; pinyin: Guānggùn Jié; literally: "bare sticks holiday") is celebrated on November 11 and consistently holds the record for being the largest shopping day worldwide. The date became known as singles day because of the connection between singles and the number '1'. In addition to meaning 'single,' the four 'ones' of the date can also mean 'only one' as in 'the only one for me.'Some people will use this date and this meaning to tell their special someone that they are the only 'one' in their heart.
Singles' Day or Bachelors' Day originated from Nanjing University in 1993. It got the name "Singles' Day" because the date consists of four "ones". The holiday was initially only celebrated by young men, hence the name, "Bachelors' Day," but is now widely celebrated by both genders. 'Blind date' parties are also popular during this day in an attempt to bid goodbye to their single lives.
As more people join in the celebration of this holiday, it has become a great opportunity for companies targeting younger consumers, including restaurants, karaoke, and low-price online shopping malls. Alibaba made headlines in 2013, as it sold 5.7 billion USD worth of good on Singles Day and captured the title of “Biggest E-Commerce Day on the Planet”, per the Business Insider. Also last year, the NY Times reported that there were 402 million unique visitors to its site on that day, which is more than one third of the adult population of China.
2011 marked the "Singles Day of the Century" (Shiji Guanggun Jie), this date having six "ones" rather than four—an excuse to take celebrations to a higher level. Shopping promotions were highlighted throughout China and activities were widespread. Although this date is meant to celebrate singlehood, the desire to find a spouse or mate is often expressed by young Chinese on this date.
Single Sad Realities
The holiday has a bitter taste in the mouths of a considerable portion of China's unmarried people, particularly for young men. One example is the story of Ma Xiao has worked for four years at a local media firm in Nanchang, but feels that marriage is out of his reach. "I feel desperate when asked whether I own an apartment on a first date, and that puts so much pressure on me," said Ma.
Ma falls into a group sometimes referred to as "excess people," which indicates a group of young adults, interested in marriage but whom unable to do so. Inferior economic status often hinders self-confidence and busy work schedules tend to block social activities, Ma said. These young men, often 30 or older, they feel more social pressures which add to their physiological pressure, noted Shuai Qing, an associate research fellow with the Jiangxi Academy of Social Sciences.
Generally, Single's Day in China implies a "bachelors' day" for unmarried men. Chinese women, however, do face the same problem, but higher educational levels across the country for females in recent years, has also left females more willing to go it along. There is a trend towards marriageable females being highly selective, because the gender ratios are some of the most skewed worldwide, most notably, focusing on material goods that a young man might be able to bring to the marriage.
Data from the latest census on the Chinese mainland shows that a trend of "excess men" is likely to continue. Men made up 51.27 percent of the entire population in 2010, but the male/female ratio at birth that year stood at 118.08, meaning there could be over 30 million bachelors unable to find a wife by 2020. This trend of "excess people" has helped several primetime TV dating programs win unprecedented national fame in recent years.
For breakfast on Singles' Day, singles often eat four Youtiao (deep-fried dough sticks) representing the four "ones" in "11.11" and one Baozi (steamed stuffed bun) representing the middle dot.
Young people, websites and companies often hold "blind date" parties where singles come together in hopes of coupling up. In 2011, the city of Shanghai organized one of the biggest blind dates ever, attracting 10,000 singles. And, many men end their single life by proposing or getting married on 11/11. The bride, part of one couple who got married on 11/11/11, (a record marriage licenses were granted for that day) was optimistic that date would be a day her husband would never forget to celebrate!
Sources: Wikipedia, China Daily, Xinhau, NY Times, Business Insider, and China Daily