The story of Chinese 11.11


In Chinese, November 11 is now called ‘双十一购物狂欢节'(double eleven shopping carnival). Before it was named ‘光棍节'(single’s day), because the numerical appearance of this date, 1111, is just like the singles with no one to hug.

Both of the names are not official. In fact, it is even not a holiday! But it is special enough and worth this article.

All started in 1990s. The origin of the Single’s day has been lost. It is generally accepted that it started from the campus of Chinese university, where getting rid of the single status is a constant conversation topic among male students. One day, someone proposed to held activities on 11.11, in order to create oppotunities for the singles to find the right one to date. Then with the popularity of the internet, this idea quickly spreaded across the country. 11.11 immediately becomes an important day for both the male and female singles, and they name it the Single’s day.

Ways to celebrate the day were then diversed. Those who have a crush on a girl would take risk to ask her out, and then make a profession. It is a risk, because the answer of the girl can be a no. Otherwise, the boy and the girl can have the chance to celebrate this day for the following years as their romantic anniversary. Those who have no one to confess would spend the day with their single friends or alone. Dating parties are held for those who look forward to get rid of their single status.

In any case, however, the Single’s day is not a happy day, comparing to the Valentine’s Day. It reminds the singles that they are not loved. What a sad and undeniable fact!

Somehow, businesses found their oppotunities from it. In Nov. 11, 2009, Taobao/Tianmao, Alibaba’s e-shopping platform, started the first online promotion event. It was a great success. People do need shopping to heal themselves:b! Other e-businesses then followed. Even the offline shopping centers have sales on this day in recent years. To compete with Alibaba, set another e-shopping carnival on Juin 18 since 2010,  which is the day that was initiated. This is how we have two shopping festivals in China, and one of them is originally the Single’s day.

People love sales. With the same sum of money, more things can be bought. This is one of the most economic things in the world! The only annoying fact is that, a lot of the online promotions are exaggerated. For example, they sell a pair of shoes at 499 RMB, describing its original price as 1000 RMB. It seems a very good discount. But if you follow the price weeks before, you would probably find the real original price is just 550 RMB.

Luckily, there are brands which indeed provide real promotions, such as UNIQLO. A lot of my friends like this brand. Each year, they start to prepare for the sales very early, in order to succeed in buying their fovarite articles with a lower price. Firstly, they add their favorite and to-be-discounted UNIQLO articles in the e-cart in advance; Secondly, they stay up until 24h of Nov. 10 which is the start of the carnival; Thirdly, they must click the ‘order’ button as fast as they can once the sales starts, because the stock can be sold out within several seconds.  

Engineers of the e-shopping platform also stay up, in order to make sure the system is not down during the carnival. I have a friend who works for Alibaba’s e-business sector. At the night of Nov. 10 of each year, he and his colleagues stay up very late to make sure the system works well. After the first(the biggest) wave of ordering, they set up tents in the office, have a short sleep and continue to work the next day. According to my friend, he is proud of his job.

Still, people do not forget the original meaning of this date. Couples go out to celebrate their relationship, dating parties are held to create the future couples and the singles make their profession to the one they have a crush on. This is why I lost one of my male friends ten days ago.

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