What is China’s Singles Day Festival ?

First Posted: 7:16 pm - November 11th, 2015 Updated: 7:16 pm - November 11th, 2015.

By Guo Guangwei - Contributing Columnist

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Singles’ Day or Guanggun Jie is a day for people who are single and is celebrated on Nov. 11. The date is chosen for the connection between singles and the number 1.

This holiday became popular among young Chinese people. In recognition of the day, young singles organize parties and Karaoke to meet new friends or try their fortunes. It has become the largest online shopping day in the world, with sales in Alibaba’s sites Tmall and Taobao at $9.3 billion (U.S. dollars) in 2014.

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.

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.

In 2011, an above-average number of marital celebrations occurred in Hong Kong and Beijing on Nov. 11. 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.

In fact, there are millions of young ages feel in trouble with looking for lovers or spouses. And it’s called “Single Hazard.” They will face the pressure from parents, elder ages of their family and other people. Yes, if you don’t have a valentine or get married around age 25 to 30, you will receive some weird critics and urge for marriage, especially for women.

On the other hand, the money worship in this generation gives them a mendacious phantom of the marriage life. Every lady wants a gao-fu-shuai (tall-rich-handsome) gentleman as a lover and spouse and every man wants a bai-fu-mei (white-rich-beautiful) as well.

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.

The holiday has left 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 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, feel more social pressures which adds 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 alone.

There is a trend toward 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 prime time TV dating programs win unprecedented national fame in recent years.


By Guo Guangwei

Contributing Columnist

Guo Guangwei is a lecturer at the University of International Business and Economics in China and is an instructor at Midlands STEM Institute in Fairfield County.


Guo Guangwei is a lecturer at the University of International Business and Economics in China and is an instructor at Midlands STEM Institute in Fairfield County.


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