China Celebrates 'Singles Day' on November 11th
If it's true misery loves company, get yourself to China on November 11th for Singles Day! A pop culture holiday of relatively recent origin, Singles Day (Guang Gun Jie in Chinese) celibates, er, celebrates the unmarried and unattached.
Singles Day was first celebrated on November 11th, 1993 by students at Nanjing University, and by “celebrated” we mean parties, mixers and other group events designed to turn singles into couples. As word of Singles Day spread, however, many unattached Chinese of all ages began to show their pride in being single – yes, the single life is a chosen path for many.
Take Chen Wei-yih, for example, a 30-year-old office worker from Taiwan who married herself at a Taipei City banquet hall, complete with bridesmaids, groomsmen and 30 invited guests. “You must learn to love yourself before you can love others,” stated Chen (left), who presumably consummated the marriage during a solo honeymoon in Australia.
There are several stories making the rounds that describe the origins of Singles Day, including this rather disingenuous one revolving around four single men who, by their own admission, lead very boring lives. The highlight of an average day was getting together to play Mahjong. On one particular day they played from 11am in the morning to 11pm at night, and every time one of the players won it was by playing the “four columns” tile, which features a quartet of parallel columns... I think you know where this is leading. Indeed, the four single gents were surprised (or not) to learn that their marathon Mahjong game took place on November 11th: 11.11!
Conveniently cute tales aside, many Chinese celebrate Singles Day by ordering a rather unique snack: four Youtiao deep-fried dough sticks that symbolize the four numerals in "11.11" plus one Baozi steamed meat-stuffed bun to act as the period between the ones. Neat, and tasty too.
Singles Day seems to be a uniquely Chinese holiday, and even though being single is a human condition that knows no borders it may remain that way. This is because November 11th is the day Western countries usually set aside each year for remembering their war veterans, and as such it's typically a somewhat somber occasion.
Singles around the world can still mark Singles Day in their own way, maybe by noting a moment of silence for the vets at 11am and raising a toast with their single friends twelve hours later at 11pm. Remember to celebrate safely, though, and if you happen to “have a couple” you can always double up on a taxi ride home. (via Global Times and Global Times Forums)