Tag Archives: love

Singles’ Day

What is so special about 11.11?

1, looks like a single man without anything, isn’t it (well please use your imagination here, would you)? According to the unofficial history, during early 90’s, there were 4 single male students in Nanjing University going to organize a speed dating event. When they were trying to set a date, someone suggested it should be 11.11 because it symbolized four single students. Thus, 11.11 Singles’ Day was born.

It is very similar to some of the events which are very popular in Japan. Singles’ Day (Guanggun Jie in Chinese pronunciation) was developed from school culture. In early 90’s, it was just considered as a dating event among university students. So, it’s a little bit like Japanese Valentines’ Day (Feb 14) and White Day (Mar 14), which are the best chances for single school students to “confess their love” to their beloved one.

Why Valentines’ Day is not as much popular in China, and instead students needed to create an original event for finding love in early 90’s? Probably because the government has been fighting against Western culture since a long time ago. Imagine western festivals mostly have lots of moral values behind, which PRC does not want their people know too much about them.

However, PRC does not really ban its people to celebrate western festivals. Borrowed from the Marxists, all kinds of cultural events could be tools, especially for money making. It is not impossible for one to find young people celebrating Christmas, Western new year or Valentines’ Day, however it is usually more on the consumer side instead of religious side. Well it is more or less the same trend in the western world, right? The only difference is Chinese people don’t have the same public holidays. But yea, still, they can consume and enjoy the festive discounts on something something. Not bad at all!

Consumer Jesus by Banksy (2005)
Consumer Jesus by Banksy (2005)

The reason why I related consumer behavior to festivals here because 11.11 was no longer just a “dating” festival among students. 3 years ago, the monopolies of online shopping sites in China “redefined” what Singles’ Day should be by introducing all kinds of attractive discounts, rebates and lucky draws in this special day. It was claimed that “11.11” had created the world biggest scale of one-day online shopping event of 2014.

Between love and shopping, it seems that the latter one has won the battle among Chinese singles.

Inspired by propaganda poster, the advertisement of Chinese Singles' Day.
Inspired by propaganda poster, the advertisement of Chinese Singles’ Day.