Singles' Day

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Singles' Day
Singles' day illustration.png
An illustration for the Chinese e-commerce holiday Singles' Day
Observed by Chinese
Type Commercial
Significance Day for singles to celebrate and socialize
Celebrations Shopping, festivals, clubs/bar
Date November 11th
Next time 11 November 2018 (2018-11-11)
Frequency Annual

Singles' Day or Guanggun Jie (Chinese: 光棍节; pinyin: Guānggùn Jié; Wade–Giles: Kuang-kun chieh; literally: "Single Sticks' Holiday") is a holiday popular among young Chinese people[1] that celebrates their pride in being single. The date, November 11th (11/11), was chosen because the number "1" resembles an individual who is alone. The holiday has also become a popular date to celebrate relationships, with over 4,000 couples being married in Beijing on this date in 2011.[2]

The holiday has become a popular shopping date, with shoppers exceeding 168.2 billion yuan (US$25 billion) in spending during the 2017 celebration.[3]

Origins[edit]

Chinese Singles' Day, or Bachelors' Day, originated at Nanjing University in 1993. Singles' Day celebrations spread to several other universities in Nanjing during the 1990s.[4] The holiday was named "Singles' Day" because its date, 11/11 (November 11), consists of four "ones," representing four singles.

There are several theories explaining the creation of the Singles' Day festival.[5] The most widely accepted theory is that the holiday grew out of Nanjing University's dorm culture. One origin story is that in 1993, four male students of Nanjing University's Mingcaowuzhu ("All single men") dorm discussed how they could break away from the monotony of being single and agreed that November 11 would be a day of events and celebrations in honor of being single.[6] These activities spread through the university and eventually made their way into wider society. The spread increased with social media use, and the event has become increasingly popular within contemporary Chinese culture and society.

An apocryphal theory is based around the love story of a Nanjing University student called Mu Guang Kun, known as Guang Gun. The story goes that his girlfriend was diagnosed with cancer during his second year at the university and eventually died. The distraught Guang Gun took to placing candles on nearby rooftops in memory of his lover, and on his birthday in the subsequent year, his roommates joined him to keep him company. After this, the day became a holiday at the university and grew to become the national, commercialized festival that is celebrated today.

Description[edit]

Singles' Day serves as an occasion for single people to meet and for parties to be organized. The holiday was initially only celebrated by young men, hence the initial name "Bachelors' Day." However, it is now widely celebrated by both sexes. "Blind date" parties are popular on this day, in an attempt to alter the single status of the participants. Some universities organize special programs to gather singles together for the celebration. Singles may take on an annoyed or self-deprecating attitude in response to remaining single as a university student, but university initiatives have helped curb that negativity.[citation needed]Although this date is meant to celebrate singlehood, the desire to find a spouse or partner is often expressed by young Chinese people on this date, while other love-related issues are discussed by the Chinese media.

Shopping[edit]

The event is not an officially recognized public holiday in China,[7] although it has become the largest offline and online shopping day in the world.[8] Sales in Alibaba's sites, Tmall and Taobao, have reached US$5.8 billion in 2013, US$9.3 billion in 2014, US$14.3 billion in 2015, US$17.8 billion in 2016, and over US$25.4 billion in 2017. JD.com also achieved a sales record of US$19.1 billion in 2017, while Lazada drums up US$123 million.[9][10][11][12][13][14]

As more people join in the celebration of this holiday many companies have taken the opportunity to target younger consumers; including businesses such as restaurants, karaoke parlors, and online shopping malls. For example, the Chinese online shopping mall Taobao sold goods worth 19 billion CNY (about US$3 billion) on November 11, 2012.[15]

On Singles' Day 2017, Alibaba set a world record for most payment transactions during the festival. Its mobile wallet app Alipay processed 256,000 payment transactions per second. A total of 1.48 billion transactions were processed by Alipay in the entire 24 hours, with delivery orders through Cainiao (Alibaba's logistics affiliate) reaching close to 700 million, breaking the previous record set in 2016.[16] The event is now nearly four times the size of America's biggest shopping days, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.[17]

2011 marked the "Singles Day of the Century" (Shiji Guanggun Jie) as this date had six "ones" rather than four, increasing the significance of the occasion.[18] In 2011, an above-average number of marital celebrations occurred in Hong Kong and Beijing on November 11.[19]

Symbolism[edit]

The following symbolism has been associated with the special date:

  • "1": The digit 1 symbolizes an individual, a single person
  • "11": Two individuals, finding each other, and being together on one side of the special date (11.11)
  • 2 x (11): A celebration of 2 (and more) different and separate couples, each comprising two single individuals finding each other on the special date (11.11)
  • In addition to meaning "single", the Chinese pronunciation of 11/11 sounds similar to the pronunciation of the expression "one life, one lifetime" ( 一生一世, yi sheng yi shi), a basis for the date's popularity for celebrating relationships among couples as well.[20]

Outside China[edit]

Singles' Day has since been popularized through the internet and is now observed at several places outside of China as well.[21] The holiday has particularly grown in Southeast Asia, with customers in the Lazada's Southeast Asian marketplaces ordering 6.5 million items in 2017. This is in part thanks to heavy promotions by the Lazada group in this region.

Mediamarkt, a German company, promotes Singles' Day in their stores.[22] Belgian Mediamarkt also participates, but reactions have been negative since the 11th of November is the anniversary of the Armistice of 11 November 1918 that ended World War I, and the day is associated with somber commemoration of the war dead in Belgium.[23]

Trademarks[edit]

The term "双十一" (meaning "Double 11") was trademarked in China by Alibaba Group on December 28, 2012, under registration numbers 10136470 and 10136420. In October 2014, Alibaba threatened legal action against media outlets that accept advertising from competitors that use this term.[24]

See also[edit]

Similar holidays[edit]

Other occasions sharing the same date:[25][edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ CNN China China's biggest problem? Too many men, November 2012
  2. ^ Chin, Josh (2011-11-11). "Chinese Couples Rush to the Altar on 11/11/11". WSJ. Retrieved 2018-01-10. 
  3. ^ Haas, Benjamin (2017-11-12). "Chinese shoppers spend a record $25bn in Singles Day splurge". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2018-01-10. 
  4. ^ "How China's Singles' Day Holiday Sold Out". Times. Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  5. ^ "Singles' Day 2017 — Public Holidays China". Public Holidays China. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  6. ^ Group, SEEC Media. "11 things you need to know about 11.11 Singles' Day shopping festival". Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  7. ^ "Singles' Day 2017 — Public Holidays China". Public Holidays China. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  8. ^ C. Custer (October 14, 2014). "Tmall CEO: this year, Alibaba plans to take Singles Day global". Tech in Asia. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  9. ^ Charles Kauffman (November 14, 2017). "China's 11.11 volumes for Alibaba, JD.com continue to surge". aircargoworld. Retrieved November 15, 2017. 
  10. ^ Steven Millward (November 12, 2014). "New record for world's biggest shopping day as Alibaba's shoppers spend $9.3 billion in 24 hours". Tech in Asia. Retrieved December 5, 2014. 
  11. ^ Reuters (November 11, 2015). "Alibaba's Singles' Day sales hit $14.32 billion". Reuters. Retrieved November 11, 2014. 
  12. ^ https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602850/big-data-game-changer-alibabas-double-11-event-raises-the-bar-for-online-sales/
  13. ^ Horwitz, Josh. "Crazy statistics from China's biggest shopping day of the year". Quartz. 
  14. ^ "Tech in Asia - Connecting Asia's startup ecosystem". www.techinasia.com. 
  15. ^ VB business, online mall Taobao reports $3B in sales in one day, Nov. 2012
  16. ^ "Jack Ma's Alibaba rakes in over $1bn per hour as Singles Day record smashed". RT International. 
  17. ^ Haas, Benjamin (2017-11-12). "Chinese shoppers spend a record $25bn in Singles Day splurge". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  18. ^ A holiday invasion – Why are Chinese enthusiastically adopting new festive events? Thinking Chinese, November 2011
  19. ^ Wall Street Journal (2011). Chinese Couples Rush to the Altar on 11/11/11. Retrieved November 16, 2011.
  20. ^ Chin, Josh (2011-11-11). "Chinese Couples Rush to the Altar on 11/11/11". WSJ. Retrieved 2018-01-10. 
  21. ^ Saiidi, Uptin (2017-11-13). "Singles Day is not just for China anymore". CNBC. Retrieved 2018-01-10. 
  22. ^ "Der Singles Day 2018". MediaMarkt Onlineshop. Retrieved 2018-01-10. 
  23. ^ jdb,sir. "Dit weekend vieren we een nieuwe feestdag, en die is vooral interessant voor koopjesjagers". Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). Retrieved 2017-11-09. 
  24. ^ Eric Johnson (Nov 6, 2014). "The Chinese government has essentially given Alibaba the 'Double 11' market". InvestorPlace. Retrieved Nov 10, 2014. 
  25. ^ timeanddate.com. "11/11/11 – a date with a special meaning?". Retrieved Nov 11, 2016. 

External links[edit]