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Singles’ Day Grows from Humble Beginnings to Massive Shopping Bonanza

Posted: 11/10/2014 10:00 am
singles day youzi baozi

The traditional way to celebrate Singles’ Day is to eat four youzi (fried doughsticks) and a meat bun, which represents the dot between month and day.

David Beckham met with Jack Ma last week to develop a Singles’ Day promotion. Headlines have been flying around about China’s famous “Single’s Day”, with some comparing it to Black Friday for shopping in the United States. But what exactly is Singles’ Day? And why is it so important that Jack Ma is willing to pay David Beckham to promote it?

Singles’ Day” is something of a mash-up of Chinese superstition and Western consumerism. The holiday takes its name from the date, November 11, and is most often represented as 11/11. Visually, the date represents a bunch of sticks in a line, which gives it its Chinese name, “Bare Sticks Festival”, or 光棍节. Although there are many theories explaining the origin of Singles’ Day, the most common one is that it was concocted by lonely university students to celebrate being single and relieve themselves of the pressures of getting married and raising a family.

singles day

Chinese numerology places importance on certain dates that sound like something else. For example, January 3, 2014 (2014/1/3), is significant because it sounds close to, “Love you for the rest of my life, and the end of my years.”

While the holiday was conceived as a celebration of singlehood, November 11 has slowly gained traction as another holiday for couples to celebrate their “couplehood”. It is now commonplace for couples to reserve the date for their weddings.

Singles’ Day was eventually added to the many dates “Chinese Valentine’s Day” is celebrated, including the traditional western Valentine’s Day on February 14, White Day on March 14 when women are expected to give gifts to their partners, Qixi Festival/Girls Day/Seven Sisters Festival on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, and now Singles’ Day.

singles day

Singles’ Day has quickly become a lucrative commercial opportunity for retailers. Although singles have no one to buy gifts for, except presumably themselves, couples have each other. Taobao was the first online retailer to create Singles’ Day promotions, and it was soon copied by several other online retailers who all offer games and the promise of cash rewards or discounts. It has become so popular that many retailers now strategically remove their best selling items on Singles Day to help get rid of unwanted stock.

Photo: Chinaface, nipic, pchouse


Even 99 iPhones Not Enough to Win One Woman’s Heart

Posted: 11/10/2014 9:30 am

Since the inception of Singles’ Day in China several years ago, millions of singles throughout the country celebrate the day by trying to woo that special someone. Yet one young Guangzhou resident chose a rather unique method to express his love in the lead up to November 11: iPhones, and lots of them.

There’s been no shortage of reports detailing extravagant Singles’ Day gifts such as a new car, or giant diamonds, but one Guangzhou programmer instead opted for 99 iPhone 6s. To his credit, he organized the phones in the shape of heart before proposing to his girlfriend in front of a sizeable crowd of friends and onlookers.

The phones reportedly cost the man over RMB 500,000 (about $82,000), or roughly the equivalent of two years’ salary, Tencent News reported. Sadly, the grand gesture was lost on the woman, who rejected his proposal.

Thankfully, demand for the new iPhone remains high in China, so he shouldn’t have too much trouble reselling them as one Weibo user suggested. Others simply dismissed the guy’s move as stupid. One user, 韵母和韵父, asked “How many kidneys did it take to buy those phones?” referring to earlier reports of a young man selling his own kidney to buy an iPhone. Another user wrote, ” 99 kidneys!”

For those who might be wondering how November 11th was chosen as Singles’ Day, the answer resides in the four lonely “1″s that form the date: 11/11.

 Photos: Weibo 


Guangdong has the most singles in China, but “leftover men” a problem

Posted: 11/6/2013 11:00 am

Statistics released by a matchmaking site ahead of Single’s Day, which falls Nov. 11, have revealed that Shenzhen has the highest proportion of single men to single women in China, Shenzhen Special Zone Daily reports. Another matchmaking website has revealed that Guangdong has the largest number of singles.

The report “The 2013 China Singles Perspective” stated that there are 74.3 “leftover women” for every 100 “leftover men” in Shenzhen.  Although the ratio of female to male residents of the city was once 7:1, men now outnumber women by 1.18 to 1. Men have outnumbered women since late 2010.

But a lack of available members of the opposite sex is not the only reason so many people are single in Guangdong., China’s most famous matchmaking website, claims that the growing number of single people also has something to do with particular living customs and work pressure.

A survey done by the website shows that a fast-paced lifestyle makes single people in Guangdong too busy to date, China Radio International reported.

Although the number of men unable to find a marriage partner is known to be a major social time bomb , the issue of leftover women also gets a great deal of media attention.

As well as being a day during which single people can celebrate and give each other gifts, November 11 has established itself as China’s busiest day for e-commerce in recent years.

#Correction: In the second paragraph, we had said men outnumber women by 118 to 1. Of course, we meant 1.18 to 1.

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