Learn about a Chinese holiday that began as an anti-Valentines Day celebration on a college campus.
Recently we celebrated National Singles Week, where we told you all the little-known benefits of being single and counted down some of the top moments of swinging solo, but if you're unattached and want the singles party to continue you're in luck: There's another holiday to celebrate singlehood.
11/11 is Singles Day in China, the holiday which encourages the unmarried to socialize and celebrate with single friends. Pretty awesome, huh? Here are five things you need to know about the day. And of course, how you can celebrate.
1. It started out as a joke on a college campus
You've heard of anti-Valentines Day parties. Heck, maybe you've even thrown one (or four) yourself. In the 1990s single Chinese college students at Nanjing University took their V-day protest even further when they came up with a day to celebrate not having a romantic partner.
What started off as a reaction to the growing number of single adults in China soon became a national phenomenon thanks to the internet. Though it's a day to celebrate singlehood, some use the occasion to confess their true feelings or give gifts to woo their crush.
2. It's also called Bachelors' Day
When the holiday was first born, it was only celebrated by young men without romantic partners. While today, all 180 million singletons in China celebrate the holiday each year, the media and retailers still mainly focus on the solo single men.
3. Why 11/11?
The holiday is held every year on November 11 because the date consists of four singles: 11/11. The holiday is known in Chinese as "Guanggun Jie," which refers to "bare sticks" — slang for bachelors.
On 11/11/11, the holiday was considered a Super Singles Day and taken to the next level because the date contained six ones. According to the BBC, it was a huge day for weddings —10x usual daily average.
4. It's the biggest online shopping day of the year
Black Friday, Cyber Monday who? Singles Day is where the real spending goes down. Since gift-giving became one of the holiday's traditions, retailers started offering sales and Singles Day turned into a major, 24-hour shopping event.
According to Mashable, sales on this year's Singles Day for the Alibaba Group, China's biggest e-retailer, totaled more than $9 billion. Last year, Alibaba made $5.75 billion on Singles Day.
Even US retailers participate in the shopping event that trumps Black Friday as the most lucrative online shopping day. Last year, websites offered 50 percent discounts on everything from wines and BMWs to boyfriend pillows and hoodies that said "I am single because I am fat."
5. Let's party
Aside from shopping and gift-giving, the quirky, symbolic holiday has plenty of fun traditions.
Ms. Independent: Many singles go to dinner with a group friends. Each person pays for themselves to represent their independence.
Single and ready to mingle? Young people, websites and companies often hold "blind date" parties, singles come together in hopes of coupling up. In 2011, the city of Shanghai organized one of the biggest blind dates ever, attracting 10,000 singles.
Breakfast for one, please. Singles eat four youtiao (deep-fried dough sticks) and a steamed bun for breakfast to represent the four single ones and dot in 11.11
See ya, singlehood. Many men end their single life by proposing or getting married on 11/11.
While the day seems to both embrace being single and encourage the unattached to find partners (... and promote online shopping), one thing's for sure: it's a celebration.
Happy Singles Day!