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Besides Singles Day, here are some other invented festivities that go on each year

November 11 has arrived, and so has the urge to buy, buy, buy.

As loyal TWOC readers will know by now, this so-called “Singles Day” is no ancient festival of the celibate, nor does it mark any solar term of the traditional Chinese calendar. Instead, it was started by lonely college students sometime in the 1990s, and turned it into “China’s Black Friday” by shopping sites.

Since the internet is a place of boundless creativity, Singles Day is not the first or last “web holiday” (网络节日) to take the youth world by storm (and make e-merchants see yuan signs). Here are a few other modern made-up celebrations, in the order they occur during the year:

1. Female Students’ Day 女生节

When? March 7

Why? It’s the day before March 8, the UN International Women’s Day

How to observe: Honoring one’s female high school or college classmates—which, to some, appears to mean posting creepy or sexist slogans on campus

2. Foodie Day 吃货节

When? May 17 and/or May 27

Why? The numbers 5-1-7 sound like “I want to eat” (我要吃) when said out loud in Chinese, while 5-2-7 sounds like “I love to eat” (我爱吃)

How to observe: Take advantage of the many dining deals offered by restaurants and food-delivery apps

3. Internet Valentine’s Day 网络情人节

When? May 20 and 21

Why? Homophones again: The numbers 5-2-0 sound like “I love you” (我爱你…you have to really try to hear it). Mavis Fan’s 1998 hit song “Numeral Love” includes the line “5-2-0 means ‘I love you.'” The following day was added because 5-2-1 also sounds like “I love you” (really, really try to hear it)—and, well, the more celebration, the merrier

How to observe: Buying romantic gifts for your other half, like jewelry, chocolate, and cake, as well as mugs (杯子 bēizi, a homonym for “lifetime”) and wooden combs (an ancient symbol of devotion), all of which tend to go on sale around this period; or try out some cheesy chat-up lines, courtesy of TWOC

4. Gossip Day 八卦节

When?  August 18

Why? Homophones (what else?): 8-1-8 sounds like “let’s post” (发一发), “let’s dig up [dirt]” (扒一扒), or simply “let’s gossip” (八一八, from 八卦, the word for gossip)

How to observe: Share your juiciest gossip over social media, unless the government bans you from doing so

5. Buy Alcohol Day 九九购酒节

When? September 9

Why? More homophones: the number 9 (九) is pronounced like “alcohol” (酒). But don’t confuse this with the lunar “Double Ninth” Festival, unless it’s to toast grandpa and grandma with some baijiu

How to observe: It’s self-evident (and yes, there are discounts available)


author Hatty Liu

Hatty Liu is the former managing editor of The World of Chinese, and an award-winning communications researcher. Born in China, and raised in China, Canada, and the US, she leverages her cross-cultural identity to create more empathetic knowledge across national boundaries.

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