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Singles Day

Nov. 11, 2020

“光棍节 (guānggùn jié) Singles Day” is an unofficial Chinese holiday (and shopping period) that celebrates bachelors, bachelorettes, and single people in general. Young Chinese people take the opportunity to make the most of being single. Always celebrated on November 11th, the holiday falls on a Wednesday this year.

Its origins stem from the fact that there are four “1” sm which resemble sticks – thus Singles Day is also called “bare stick day”, a nod to there being no branches that might scatter leaves (to start a family). If you know about other Chinese holidays, you may have realized that Chinese people tend to place a lot of emphasis on numbers, and they like to associate different numbers with various meanings – thus 11/11 gained popularity.

Some have said that this day means “one heart and one hand, in all one’s life”, and people like the idea of getting married on this day. Some feel it reflects the process of transitioning from being single to being married.

Celebration

Everything can be made to feel or seem “singular” (unique).

On November 11th, you might see a group of single men taking the Route 11 bus. “The 风景 (fēngjǐng, scenery) on the road is wonderful, and we are the scenery in eyes of other people as well.”

风景 (fēng jǐng): n. scenery

Example:

wǒ mén táo zuì zài fēng jǐng zhōng.
我们陶醉在风景中。
We were charmed by the scenery

nà ér de fēng jǐng měi dé nán yǐ xíng róng .
那儿的风景美得难以形容。
The scenery there was beautiful beyond description.

Drinking Wine (Alcohol)

Singles Day is often a time when people indulge in “adult beverages”. While there is certainly a stereotype associated with drinking alone, people take the opportunity to relax with a glass of wine or their favorite cocktail and take a moment to reflect on what they want in life, be that professional success, athletic pursuits, or a life partner.

Even if dwelling on such topics brings sadness, it is said that a great person can only exceed their limits and rise above obstacles after they have experienced sadness!

Working Overtime

It’s not uncommon to work overtime in China. In the process of working overtime, you may find that have no “精力 (jīnglì) energy” to get nostalgic and reminisce about past lovers or relationship histories, thus no strength to sigh deeply in despair that you are alone. Okay, maybe this is a bit dramatic, but it is true that on Singles Day people will choose to stay in the office late so that all they need to focus on is how to complete the tasks at hand, then go back home and go to sleep.

精力 (jīng lì): n. energy

Example:

nà shi làng fèi shí jiān hé jīng lì .
那是浪费时间和精力。
It’s a waste of time and energy.

tā yǒu wú qióng de jīng lì hé wú xiàn de nài xīn .
他有无穷的精力和无限的耐心。
His energy was unbounded and his patience inexhaustible.

Some people think: “If I’m worrying about being too lonely, why don’t I just experience a boring night at the office? I might as well be productive and avoid overthinking things. Maybe my work will give me courage and confidence to love in the future!”

Poetry Club

It seems as if the style of postmodern poetry isn’t appreciated, yet all some young people want to do on Single’s Day is to climb a mountain and recite poems at the top of their voice! Interested?

Start climbing in the morning of Singles Day and prepare to reach the peak of the mountains at 11:11 am exactly, then hold a scroll and “朗诵 (lǎng sòng, recite)” poetry. There’s some nostalgia in there, taking you back to the age when people appreciated literature and weren’t afraid to admit how they felt. It can be quite liberatingly simple to bear your heart to the world.

朗诵 (lǎng sòng): v. recite

Example:

tā jiāng yào lǎng sòng yì shǒu shī.
他将要朗诵一首诗。
He is going to recite a poem.

wǒ xǐ huān bèi sòng tā de shī .
我喜欢背诵他的诗。
I like to recite his poetry.

As China’s youth population continues to steadily grow, Singles’ Day in turn continues to become more and more popular throughout China with the introduction of a variety of activities to celebrate it.

Corporations also take the opportunity to commercialize the holiday by offering discounts and special promotions, making November 11th not only a special day for youth, but also an extremely profitable day for businesses.

Despite the fact that the holiday has become the largest shopping day in the world, it still has special relevance to those that want to celebrate themselves and indulge in self-care and self-love.

You May Want to Learn More:

Quintessential Customs of Double Ninth Festival 重阳节 (chóng yáng jié)

Different Customs and Taboos of the Hungry Ghost Festival in China

Don’t Say Happy Dragon Boat Festival!

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