The date of the observance is not coincidental. In Chinese number 1 resembles a “bare stick”, which is a slang expression for a lonely man. The date 11.11 has four “1”s, so it represents the whole group of single men. What is more, it is widely believed that the holiday was started by four lonely students, so the date could not be any different. For this reason, the other name of the holiday is “Bachelors’ Day”. At first, the idea has spread through the university they were studying at, but it soon became popular in the whole China and even further.
Singles’ Day intended to celebrate all single people, even though at first it was only observed by young men. This is due to the imbalance of genders in the Chinese population - there are nearly 34 million more men than women in China, which means that many men are single, and some of them will never get married. Nowadays, however, both sexes take advantage of the observance as it is a great occasion for singles to gather together, organise parties, and often even find a partner.
Quickly, however, China’s biggest online commerce company – Alibaba – spotted the commercial opportunity in celebrating Singles’ Day. One of the world’s largest retailers started to launch great discounts on November 11, also called “Double 11”, encouraging young and single people to buy something for them and pamper themselves. In 2009, the first year of this shopping campaign, the consumers have spent about US$10 million, and only 2 years later, on 11/11/2011, the result was already US$800 million. This growth tendency remains until today. The shopping festival quickly became a global event. It is much more profitable than Black Friday, which is in the United States known as the biggest shopping holiday. Singles’ Day, however, is undeniably the largest shopping festival in the world.
Chinese commercial companies have also started inviting American and British stars to join their huge celebration. For example, Billie Eilish was encouraged to release a Singles Day capsule collection for an online sale, Kim Kardashian promoted her cosmetics line, and stars such as Mariah Carey, Taylor Swift or Nicole Kidman perform at the opening gala of the event. This is a proof that, although the Americans do not want to admit that, November 11 has become a worldwide shopping event nearly four times the size of Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
Did you know?
Paradoxically, many couples in China decide to get married on November 11. In 2011, which was called “Singles’ Day of the Century” because of six “1”s in the date instead of only four, over 4,000 couples decided to tie the knot on that day in Beijing, while usually it is on average 700 couples per day.
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