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Super Singles Sunday

What does the singles' day signify to the average Chinese youth? A festival to celebrate freedom or a last hurrah for one's single status?


Super Singles Sunday

What does the singles' day signify to the average Chinese youth? A festival to celebrate freedom or a last hurrah for one's single status?


November 11 is Singles’ Day (光棍节,Guānggùn jié) as this day falls on 11/11. The number is significant in Chinese as it is  shaped like four sticks “光棍”(Guānggùn) in Chinese, which also means male bachelor. The day therefore used to only be celebrated by men, but gradually women have jumped on the bandwagon and joined in the fun.

Singles’ day is by no means a traditional festival. It is said that it originated on campus at Nanjing University (the capital  of Jiangsu Province) in the 1990s with the express wish of empowering single people to ensure they were “proud of their single status” and also “to celebrate their single status.” Others believe that it is a good opportunity for single people to make fun of  themselves for still being single at university, or also potentially as a good way of meeting your mate, with singles hooking up with other singles.

Food for Singles’ Day

For breakfast on Singles’ Day, single college students often eat four 油条(yóu tiáo, deep-fried dough sticks) representing the four “ones” in “11.11” and one 包子( bāozi, steamed stuffed buns) representing the middle dot!

Images Representing Singles’ Day

In the above photo,the chinese characters are:”咱们光棍有力量!”(Zánmen guānggùn yǒu lìliàng! We singles have strength.)This sentence imitates the song “We Workers Have Strength”(咱们工人有力量.Zánmen gōngrén yǒu lìliàng.)

At the top of the above picture, the Chinese characters are:“全世界光棍,联合起来!”(Singles of all lands, unite! Quán shìjiè guānggùn, liánhé qǐlái!)This sentence imitates “Workers of all lands, unite!”(全世界无产阶级,联合起来!Quán shìjiè wúchǎn jiējí liánhé qǐlái.)

At the bottom of the picture, the Chinese characters are: “偶们一定要脱离光棍!”(We will definitely break away from bachelor status. Ǒumen yīdìng yào tuōlí guānggùn.) as many hope that 11/11 will be the day they finally meet their companion.  Many people also go on blind dates (相亲,xiāngqīn) on Singles’ Day and surprisingly there are many people in relationships who choose to get married on this day.

Phrases about Singles’ Day

On Singles’ Day, if you use the below phrases, they have special meanings. For example, “光光(guāng guāng ) is the nickname for single males. “明明”( míng míng ) is the nickname for single females. 脱光(tuō guāng) originally meant to “strip naked”, but in this context now means “male singles break away from their single status.” 失明(shī míng) means “female singles break away their single status.” 光复(guāngfù) means “to be single again.”

Social Attention to Singles’ Day

In recent years, as the inventors of Single’s Day have graduated, they have passed the tradition on to new students. Social media websites such as Renren(人人网), Weibo 新浪微博), Tencent Weibo(腾讯微博)or Douban(豆瓣) are littered with no end of activities organised for the day, testimony to its popularity throughout China.  In addition, “11/11” is very important to retailers who, from the beginning of November, launch a  “shopping feast” with major e-commerce supplier Taobao(淘宝) having already launched discount promotions on its website. According to a report by Tencent, On November 11 2011, the total transactions on Taobao (淘宝) and Taobao Mall(淘宝商城)exceeded RMB 52 billion.

So, if you are single then stock up on dough-sticks and prepare to rejoice with your contemporaries – you never know what might happen.

Photos from image.Jike.com