What is Singles' Day and how is it celebrated?

Whilst we are bombarded with images of love and romance through the media and holidays like Valentines’ day, thousands of Chinese people gather every year on November 11th to celebrate the joys of being single.

Single dog

What is Chinese Singles’ Day?

Chinese “Singles’ Day” (光棍节 guāng gùn jié) or “Double 11” (双十一 shuāng shí yī), is a holiday for bachelors and a day to celebrate singlehood. It is believed that Singles’ Day was originally founded by Chinese university students in the 1990s as a kind of “anti-Valentine’s Day”. It is celebrated on November 11th since 11/11 represents single living / "single sticks".

Chinese Single Day Shopping

How is Singles’ Day celebrated?

Although not an official holiday, Singles’ Day is celebrated throughout China, and over the years it has gained immense popularity even in other countries.

This is a day for singles to self indulge and to treat themselves to presents, fine meals, and a night on the town. Although arguably the notion of “self-care” is somewhat commodified, it is one of the main drivers and methods of branding behind the huge sales created each year on this day.

Chinese Single Day Shopping

Nowadays, Singles’ Day is a major shopping holiday similar to Black Friday (but much, much bigger). The holiday marks a 24-hour shopping bonanza where shops, restaurants, and a multitude of other establishments offer huge discounts, creating an enormous spike in sales. Discounts are available in pretty much all sectors such as fashion, electronics, education, food, and even real estate!

Singles’ Day and Chinese E-Commerce

One of the best ways to take advantage of sales during this holiday is to shop online.

Chinese Single Day Shopping

Chinese Single Day Shopping

Online posters made for Singles Day shopping events

The tech and e-commerce giant Alibaba started to offer Singles Day discounts in 2009 and other shopping websites soon followed suit.

TaoBao (also known as Tmall) and JD.Com are the most popular Chinese online shopping websites. In fact, Singles’ Day in 2019 generated 60 billion US dollars in sales to these two e-commerce giants in one day and broke all previous records. So it is no surprise that this Chinese holiday is now the largest online (and even offline) shopping day in the world.

Chinese Single Day Shopping

Shopping posters on TaoBao

Having realized the sheer size of the Chinese consumer market, many Western companies such as Apple, Nike and Adidas have jumped on the Singles’ Day bandwagon, offering enticing discounts to appeal to both Chinese and non-Chinese customers worldwide.

Here are some useful Chinese vocabulary words related to Singles’ Day and online shopping:

光棍节GuānggùnjiéSingle's Day
网络购物wǎngluò gòuwùOnline shopping
淘宝(网)Táobǎo (wǎng)Taobao (Chinese E-commerce website)
预购yùgòuTo pre-order
活动huódòng"Campaign" (i.e sales events)
运费yùnfèiShipping fees
订单dìngdān(purchase) order
发货fāhuòTo dispatch (goods)
加入购物车jiārù gòuwùchēTo add to shopping cart
优惠券yōuhuìjuànDiscount voucher
领券lǐngjuànTo obtain a voucher
打破销售记录túpò xiāoshòu jìlùBreak a sales record
放纵自己fàngzòng zìjǐTo indulge oneself
单身dānshēnSingle; singlehood
谈恋爱tán liàn'àiTo have a romantic relationship
mǎiTo buy
màiTo sell

Does Singles’ Day Represent China’s Growing Influence?

With all the importance placed on romance in our daily lives, it is nice to see that singles can have their own day of celebration too! But Singles’ Day is no longer just a day to celebrate singlehood—it represents the international and influential consumer power of China, its ever-growing economy, and the growing affluence across the country.

If you're tired of being single, why not prepare to take the first step towards meeting someone new by checking out our list of 12 ways to say "hi" in Chinese?

TaoBao sales number in Singles Day 2018

On November 11, 2019 alone, Singles’ Day sales on China’s leading e-commerce platform, Taobao, exceeded 268 billion RMB (38.4 billion USD)

One-on-One Chinese Lessons

One-on-One Chinese Lessons

Continue Exploring

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *