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An illustration for the Chinese e-commerce holiday Singles' Day
|Significance||Day for singles to celebrate and socialize|
|Celebrations||Shopping, festivals, clubs/bar|
|Next time||11 November 2017|
|Related to||Bachelor's Day, One's Day|
Singles' Day or Guanggun Jie (Chinese: ???; pinyin: Gu?nggùn Jié; Wade-Giles: Kuang-kun chieh; literally: "bare sticks holiday") is an entertaining festival widespread among young Chinese people, to celebrate the fact that they are proud of being single. The date, November 11th (11/11), is chosen because the number "1" resembles an individual that is alone. This festival has become the largest online shopping day in the world, with sales in Alibaba's sites Tmall and Taobao at US$5.8 billion in 2013, US$9.3 billion in 2014, US$14.3 billion in 2015 and over US$17.8 billion in 2016.
Singles' Day or Bachelors' Day, which originated from Nanjing University in 1993, was initially celebrated at various universities in Nanjing during the 1990s. It got the name "Singles' Day" because the date consists of four "one"s. Upon graduating, these college students carried the university tradition into society. Singles' Day has been largely popularized in the internet era and is now observed by youth in several regions outside China as well.
Singles' Day serves as an occasion for single people to party with single friends. The holiday was initially only celebrated by young men, hence the name, "Bachelors' Day", but is now widely celebrated by both sexes. 'Blind date' parties are also popular during this day in an attempt to bid goodbye to their single lives. Some schools of a university put forward a special program to gather singles together for celebration. Singles may take on a bemoaning or self-deprecating attitude for remaining single as a university student, but this has helped curb that negativity.
2011 marked the "Singles Day of the Century" (Shiji Guanggun Jie), this date having six "ones" rather than four--an excuse to take celebrations to a higher level. Shopping promotions were highlighted throughout China and activities were widespread. Although this date is meant to celebrate singlehood, the desire to find a spouse or mate is often expressed by young Chinese on this date, while other love-related issues are discussed by the Chinese media.
Guess #1: Nanjing University's dorm culture. This is the most acceptable guessing for the origin of Single's Day. In 1993 at a dorm called "Mingcaowuzhu (All single men)" at Nanjing University, the four students talked about how to find a girlfriend every night before sleeping for a long time. During their little talks, they came up with the idea of organizing some activities on the upcoming November 11. Since then, those activities organized on November 11 were widely spread to many universities in Nanjing even in many other cities. With these students graduating from universities, this university culture was brought to the whole society, and because of the large amount of single people and social media's strong power, this day has become more and more popular in the Chinese society.
Guess #2: A love story. A young man whose name was Mu Guang Kun, was born on November 11, 1970. Because of his special name in Chinese, he had been called "Guang Gun" since primary school. During his second year at Nanjing University, he began a romantic relationship with a girl. However, the girl was diagnosed with cancer and died later. The young man went to the top floor, fluting with some candles on the night of the girl's death. He seemed to become another person after that night. On his birthday during his senior year, his roommates also went to the top floor with him again to keep him company. Afterwards, this sad story became well known in Nanjing University and his birthday was then set up to be "Guang Gun Festival".
The following symbolism has been associated with the special date:
In 2011, an above-average number of marital celebrations occurred in Hong Kong and Beijing on November 11. In addition to meaning "single", the four "ones" of the date can also mean "only one" as in "the only one for me". Some people will use this date and this meaning to tell their special someone that they are the only "one" in their heart.
As more people join in the celebration of this holiday, it has become a great opportunity for companies targeting younger consumers, including restaurants, Karaoke, and online shopping malls. For example, the Chinese online shopping mall Taobao sold 19 billion CNY (about 3 billion USD) of goods on November 11, 2012. In November 2016, the e-commerce giant Alibaba has set its Singles Day record and generated 120.7 billion CNY (17.79 billion USD) in gross merchandise.
The term "???" (meaning "Double 11") was trademarked in China by Alibaba Group on December 28, 2012, under registration numbers 10136470 and 10136420. In Oct 2014, Alibaba threatened legal action against media outlets that accept advertising from competitors that use this term.
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