November 11th may just be another day in the Western world, but in China it has become the most widely celebrated unofficial holiday: Chinese Singles Day. Having had its inception in the halls of a university, Singles Day has taken China by storm.
Legend has it that “Singles’ Day” (or Guānggùn Jié) was originally established in 1993 by four young bachelors attending Nanjing University. November 11th (11/11) was selected as an appropriate day given the relevance of the number one to being single.
When the men graduated university they took their tradition with them and introduced it to the general population, who responded to it on an enormous level. By the late 2000s, knowledge (and celebration) of the holiday had become widespread and rampant!
Dubbed the “Anti-Valentines Day”, this day has become a call to action for young Chinese people to move beyond the monotony of the single life, to get past any feelings of societal pressure, and to enjoy some time with friends.
The day traditionally starts with a whimsical breakfast of youtiao (fried strips of dough that resemble the number one), and it ends with a late night of karaoke and lively quality time with close friends.
In recent years Chinese Singles Day has also experienced a rise in commercialism. On the basis that singles don’t need a significant other in order to deserve nice things, Chinese singles take the day to treat themselves.
This day has emerged as the number one day of e-commerce sales in the world, dwarfing Cyber Monday and even Black Friday. This year online sales exceeded $9 billion in just 24 hours, 3.5 times that of Cyber Monday 2014.
Although Chinese Singles Day was originally intended as a day of celebrating independence, it has also become a day known for going out on a limb in ones’ love life!
On the ultimate day for celebrating the single life, the logic follows that it is also the perfect day to talk to a crush, ask that long-time friend out on a date, and to make a move! November 11th has become a symbol of celebrating life, enjoying time with friends, and taking risks!