SINGLES DAY

Why is 11.11 Singles Day? What is its meaning and origin?

With a limited number of Singles Day hours still left, people are rushing to get the best deals before the clock hits midnight. But when did the shopping extravaganza day start?

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Why 11.11 is Singles Day? What is its meaning and origin?
TINGSHU WANG REUTERS

Singles day or the double 11, originally named Bachelors Day, is a non-official holiday in China meant to celebrate all the people who are not in relationships as well as serving as an ocassion for parties to be organized.

11.11: From Single's day to Shopping extravaganza

Despite being a way to celebrate singleness, it is currently more of a bargain shopping day than anything else, becoming the largest physical and online shopping holiday in the world eclisping the notorious "Black Friday".

Alibaba sites, TMall and TaoBao are some of the online stores which rack up huge sales every year on the day. Alibaba managed to set the world record for the most transactions in a day, with their wallet app estimating 256,000 transactions per second, and a total of 1,48 billion throughout the day.

11.11 is currently four times bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Why November 11?

The date 11.11 was chosen for symbolic nature of the number "1" and the combination of the four "ones" together when 11 November is written numerically. In the first place,the number "1" resembles a stick and is used in chinese internet slang it is used to refer to unmarried men that don't add branches to their family tree.

When you write 11 November numerically "11.11" you get four 1's , or four bachelors, which itself has come to symbolize a collective group of single people, male and female.

Different symbolisms surrounding Singles Day

  • 1: one single person
  • 11: two single people together on a date
  • 11 11: a celebration of two or more couples each finding eachother on a date. 

A journey through time: Origins and Meaning

Bachelors Day as it was first named, started as a men's celebration in 1993 at Nanjing University.

Despite there being lots of stories to its birth, the most broadly accepted idea, is that four single men who dormed together at Nanjing University were working out ways to break the monotony of single people's lives. The group decided that the best way to do so was to establish a day honouring all single people. This idea later spread all over the university and finally out into the wider society. Social media did the rest.