5.20: Another Valentine’s Day in China

Network Valentine’s Day is a holiday to celebrate love in the information age that takes place over the course of two days, May 20 and May 21, every year, because of the way that these two dates sound in Chinese. “520” sounds like the Chinese for “I love you”, while “521” has taken on the meaning of “I will”. This “Internet Valentine’s Day” is also known “wedding day”, “white day”, and “courtship day”.

1. Pronunciation of Numbers

The dates May 20 and May 21 are homonyms for different ways to express love. Because of the difference between the two numbers, 520 is mainly for women, and 521 is mainly for men, meaning that men choose to express “520” (I love you) to their wives, girlfriends, or crushes on May 20, and receive their answer on May 21, when the women might reply, “521” (“I like and I love you”). Because of this, May 20 and May 21 every year have become auspicious days for couples to register for marriage and hold grand wedding banquets.
In addition to “520” and “521”, there are other popular homonymic numbers in Chinese:

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2. Knowing the Real Numbers

1234… these are the Arabic numerals used around the world. You will see these if you come to China, but there are other ways to write numbers in Chinese—and not just the characters you probably already know!
In order to distinguish numbers used to keep financial records, “壹贰叁肆伍陆柒捌玖拾佰仟万” were born. Believe it or not, adopting these characters has prevented digital tampering and altering of electronic finances.

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3.Celebrations Mean Consumerism

With all of the weddings and engagements and gifts being given, online shopping has taken off around this time. Many businesses have group buying, discounts, and other promotional activities, and sales shoot through the roof. Everywhere people look they see advertisements and promotions for 520 and 521, and when they open their WeChat they see “red envelopes” with cash flooding into their inbox. No industry is ignored—even tour agencies offer special travel discounts to other countries during this time!


kǎo  shì  zhī  qián ,jiān  kǎo  lǎo  shī  xuān  bù  le  kǎo  shì    jì    lǜ
考   试    之    前,   监    考    老   师   宣    布    了    考   试    纪   律。
Before the exam, the proctor announced the exam discipline.

xiàn  zài  yǒu  xǔ  duō  xū  jiǎ  guǎng  gào ,xuān  chuán  de  tiān  huā  luàn  zhuì ,bú  dé  bú  ràng  rén chǎn  shēng  huái  yí
现    在   有   许   多   虚    假    广       告,    宣      传      的      天     花      乱     坠,不   得    不     让     人     产     生     怀    疑。
Now there are many fake advertisements, there’s a lot of hyped-up publicity, and people should be cautious.


guǒ  rán ,sān  tiān  hòu   gōng  bù  le  chéng    jì
果     然,  三    天     后     公     布     了     成     绩。
Sure enough, the results were announced three days later.

zhè   tiáo   fǎ   lǜ   shì  shàng   gè   yuè   xīn   bān   bù   de
这     条     法     律    是     上    个   月    新     颁    布     的。
The law was enacted last month.

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