Move Over Double-O Seven,
By Kiril Bolotnikov
Make Way for Double Eleven
In a Western context, there is a fairly common perception of Valentine's Day being over-commercialized; if we were to address the intersection of love and money in the United States, Valentine's Day would typically be the first example raised. In China, however, those dual aspects of romance and commercialization come to a head on a completely different holiday, and interestingly, almost completely separately from each other.
Valentine's Day in the West is also sometimes refer to as "Singles Awareness Day," due to the fact that the holiday, to some people at least, only serves as a reminder of just how single they are. Chinese youth took this to another level in the early 1990s, designating November 11 as "Singles' Day" (光棍节, Guānggùn jié, literally "bare sticks day") because the number one, repeated four times in the numerical abbreviation "11/11" was deemed representative of their lack of a relationship.
While this was initially seen simply as an amusing product of Nanjing University culture, the "holiday" started spreading to other universities throughout China, and eventually, into other aspects of society. By the early 2000s, it was fairly well known, at least to China's youth population. Read on