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 2018|
Chinese Singles' Day or Guanggun Jie (Chinese: ; pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Kuang-kun chieh; literally: "Single Sticks' Holiday") is an entertainment festival famous among young Mainland 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. The event is not an officially recognised public holiday, but as an official national festival, it has become the largest offline and 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, US$17.8 billion in 2016, and over US$25.4 billion in 2017. JD.com also achieved a sales record of US$19.1 billion in 2017, while Lazada drums up US$123 million.
During the festival, Alibaba - the company most closely associated with Singles' Day - set a world record for payment transactions, with its mobile wallet app Alipay processing 256,000 payment transactions per second, in 2017. A total of 1.48 billion transactions were processed by Alipay in the entire 24 hours, with delivery orders through Cainiao (Alibaba's logistics affiliate) reaching close to 700 million, breaking 2016's record. The event is now nearly four times the size of America's biggest shopping days - Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
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Chinese Singles' Day, or Bachelors' Day, originated from Nanjing University in 1993, and was initially celebrated at various universities in Nanjing during the 1990s. It got the name "Singles' Day" because the date - 11/11 - consists of four "ones", representing four singles. Upon graduating, these college students carried the university tradition into society. Singles' Day has since been popularized since the start of the internet era and is now observed in several regions outside of China too.
Singles' Day serves as an occasion for single people to party together. The holiday was initially only celebrated by young men, hence the name, "Bachelors' Day", but it is now widely celebrated by both sexes. "Blind date" parties are also popular during this day in an attempt to alter their single status. 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 people on this date, while other love-related issues are discussed by the Chinese media.
There are several possible explanations as to the creation of the Singles' Day festival, as there is no one accepted origin, and the details of the first celebration are notoriously unlcear. The most widely accepted origin is that which grew out of Nanjing University's dorm culture. In Nanjing University's 'Mingcaowuzhu' ('All single men') dorm in 1993, four male students discussed how they could break away from the monotony of being single, agreeing that 11/11 would be a day of events and celebrations surrounding singlehood. These activities spread further into various other Nanjing universities, and eventually made their way into wider society. This spread increased with the use of social media, which has driven the event to become more and more popular within contemporary Chinese culture and society. A less often accepted theory is based around the love story of a Nanjing University student called Mu Guang Kun, known as Guang Gun. The story goes that his girlfriend was diagnosed with cancer during his second year at the university, and eventually died. The distraught Guang Gun took to placing candles on the rooftops in memory of his lover, and on his birthday the next year his roommates joined him to keep him company. After this, the day became a holiday at the university, and grew to become the national, commercialised festival that is celebrated today.
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, companies have taken the opportunity to target 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.
Mediamarkt, a German company, is also doing promotions on that day in their Dutch stores.
Belgian Mediamarkt is also participating, but initial reactions have been negative since 11th November is an important day in Belgian history, remembering the dead and the day when the First World War, by Germany, stopped .
The term "" (meaning "Double 11") was trademarked in China by Alibaba Group on December 28, 2012, under registration numbers 10136470 and 10136420. In October 2014, Alibaba threatened legal action against media outlets that accept advertising from competitors that use this term.
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