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”.
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:
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.
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.