Happy Chinese ‘Singles’ Day’

Singles’ Day or Bachelors’ Day (光棍节 Guānggùn Jié) is a day unofficially made for young Chinese who are single to celebrate on the 11th of November (11/11 – two elevens – aka “双十一”节 Shuāng Shíyī Jié). The date was chosen for the connection between singles and the number ‘1’. The four ‘1’s ironically refer to the individuals who have no boyfriends/girlfriends yet, therefore, becoming the bachelors or bachelorettes.

Initiated in 1993, this celebration has become popular among young Chinese, especially university and college students. In celebrating their festival, young singles organise parties and Karaoke to meet new friends or try their fortunes.

In more recent years, the festival has become commercialised as the largest physical and online shopping day in the world, compared with other shopping events such as the Black Friday shopping.

The photos below were taken when I undertook my fieldwork in China on 10/11/2008. With great interest I attended an English class in a university in which two students were presenting their topic on the Singles’ Day. The mascots they explained are represented by two common and typical Chinese breakfast food – 油条 (yóutiáo) and 包子 (bāozi).

Language points

  • 光棍 (guānggùn) – single, unmarried people; bachelor or bachelorette (esp. male, oft. derogatory)
  • 节 (jié) – festival, special day
  • 双十一 (shuāng shíyī) – double 11(th)
  • 油条 (yóutiáo) – deep-fried long twisted dough strips
  • 包子 (bāozi) – steamed bun with fillings


In their presentation, the two girls claimed that only in China a special day was set for the singles. Is that true? What about in your country/culture? Please leave a reply below in the comment box.

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