Singles’ Day is a Chinese event that is mostly celebrated by young people in China. It is not an official public holiday.
In Mandarin, this holiday is referred to as Guanggun Jie (管棍节), or Singles’ Festival. Some people in China and other areas of the world call the holiday Bachelors’ Day. Due to commercial influence by Alibaba, the holiday has also become known as Double 11, or Shuang Shi’yi (双十一). This is because the popular holiday is observed on November 11 each year.
History of Singles’ Day
Most people agree that Singles’ Day was originally celebrated at Nanjing University. According to popular belief, students at Nanjing started a festival to celebrate their lives as bachelors. The festival was created during the 1990s. The specific details about the founding of the festival are unclear, but there are two primary theories.
Theory #1: There is a popular story about four male Nanjing students that played mahjong together at Mingcaowuzhu, an all-males dormitory. During these games, the students would speak about their wishes for the future. They all agreed that they would like to have girlfriends. Some variations of this story also state that the students had this conversation during a game on November 11. Furthermore, the winning tiles for several games on this day were all ones. The students took this coincidence as a good omen about their single lifestyles and formed Guanggun Jie.
Theory #2: Another favorite story among celebrators of Singles’ Day is that of a man named Guang Gun. This man’s real name was Guang Kun, but his friends renamed him Guang Gun when he was young. When Guang Gun was a student at Nanjing University, he fell in love with a young lady. To Guang Gun, this lady was the most beautiful woman in the world. After dating for over a year, the lady was diagnosed with cancer. Despite the unfortunate news, Guang Gun stayed by her side. Guang Gun’s lover eventually died on Guang Gun’s birthday. This caused Guang Gun to become very depressed. Once Guang Gun regained his composure, he began placing candles on the roof of his dormitory to honor his late lover. On Guang Gun’s birthday, Guang Gun’s friends joined him to pay their respects. After this, the holiday was celebrated annually on November 11 by students at Nanjing University.
After many Nanjing students graduated, Singles’ Day began to be celebrated in several communities in southern China. The holiday eventually spread to the rest of China. After the national government realized that the holiday could be used for economic purposes, Singles’ Day was recognized as an official Chinese festival.
Singles’ Day is similar to many commercial holidays in the United States, Canada, and other nations in the West. On Singles’ Day, many e-commerce sites and shops launch massive sales that attract young consumers. Since Guanggun Jie is a holiday that celebrates individualism and the bachelor lifestyle, many young Chinese people buy luxury items for themselves. From electronics to clothing, many goods are purchased during this holiday. This causes many major Chinese and international companies to earn large profits in a single 24-hour period.
Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce site for consumer goods, earned over $14 billion in profits on Singles’ Day in 2015. These impressive sales cause the stock prices of several Chinese companies to surge during early November each year. Some analysts suggest that Singles’ Day in China is becoming larger than Black Friday in the United States.
In addition to great sales, Singles’ Day is an event for celebrating youthfulness and independence. Many Chinese people attend parties at upbeat clubs or bars with their friends. Karaoke bars are quite popular among young people during Singles’ Day. People in search of low-key celebratory activities can go to restaurants that offer Singles’ Day deals. Singles’ Day was originally a holiday for men, but it now also celebrates the single lifestyles of women.
Although Singles’ Day is intended to celebrate the lifestyles of bachelors, the holiday is used by some people to bid farewell to their single lives and find a spouse. Many Chinese young people attend dating parties to find a suitable spouse.
Guanggun Jie is not oriented around food, but there are some main festival foods that people eat to kick off the holiday. For breakfast, celebrators of Singles’ Day eat four youtiao (油条) and one baozi (包子). Youtiao is a fried dough stick that has a sweet or savory flavor. Since they are sticks of dough, youtiao look like yi (一),the Chinese character for one. They are popular on Singles’ Day because November 11 is a date with only ones when it is written numerically. The baozi, or steamed bun, represents the period that separates the day from the month.
Where to Celebrate
Singles’ Day is popular in most of China’s large cities. Some of the best places to celebrate the holiday are:
- Hong Kong
Singles’ Day is a Chinese holiday that allows single men and women to enjoy their youthfulness before they prepare for the future.