China's Singles' Day Happened - But What Is It?
The Debrief: China has a day specifically for single people, and we sort of want in...
Every year on 11 November, there’s a celebration for single people over in China, and that’s putting it mildly. The biggest online shopping event in the world, Chinese singles buy presents for themselves, and this year organisers Alibaba, an online shopping giant especially popular in China, racked up a world-record-breaking £6 billion in 12 hours.
Having started seven years ago as a way for single people to celebrate their singledom by buying presents for themselves, Alibaba originally just worked with 27 merchants. Now it’s grown into a huge enterprise with over 40,000 merchants all offering discounts on various products. Sort of like Cyber Monday but for single people.
And why 11 November? It’s 11.11 – four separate ones or, as they call it in China, ‘bare sticks’. Clever.
It’s believed to have originated in Nanjing university in the 00s, where they’d celebrate an anti-Valentine’s day for people who didn’t have a Valentine. Once it got picked up and promoted by the big brands, though, it became a whole other thing. A thing that, oddly, now involves people getting married.
Yeah, it might be a day for those who are uncoupled, but the ‘bare sticks’ vibe has been interpreted by many as a romantic day for singles to find each other. According to Xinhua news agency, last year China experienced a wedding boom on 11 November.
Getting married aside, the social media site Weibo gets rammed on Singles’ Day with people sharing selfies of themselves holding up boards explaining why being single is a OK, memes to do with being single, viral content (one student dreamed up a fake ‘Singles card’ that looks like a marriage licence) and, of course, huge brands totally dominate the trending topics too.
Part of us really likes the idea of having a day to celebrate the uncoupled. Part of us is a bit sad that it’s being used as a way for businesses to make shitloads of money. But then again, *cough* Christmas *cough*, and if you can get a pair of great jeans for half price without having to stomach images of people snogging under mistletoe or walking around hand in hand under Christmas lights (snogging), then we’re pretty much sold.
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