Singles’ Day: The origin of the craziest shopping day of the year

Singles Day Supper Invitation

A supper at St. Peter’s College to celebrate being single

While 11 November is known to the West as the day on which WWI officially came to an end, in China it is celebrated as Singles’ Day (光棍节, guāng gùn jié, ‘bare branch festival’). If you think about it pessimistically, we singles are trees that have yet to flower; alternatively, we are trees that are not yet weighed down by all those leaves and fruit! The custom originated from Nanjing University, so how apt that my first experience of it was at university. Thanks to the Chinese eCommerce platform Alibaba, it has since evolved to become the most important online shopping date in China, bigger even than the American Black Friday. On this day it is customary for single friends to gather together and eat four fried dough sticks (油条, yóu tiáo) and one steamed bun (包子, bāo zi), which represent the numerical form of the date, 11.11. Each person pays his/her own part of the bill, to show their independence.


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