November 11th has now emerged as a new holiday dedicated to the singles in China. It essentially serves as an anti-Valentine’s Day, and is the Chinese equivalent of Singles Awareness Day (SAD), during which those unhappily unattached commiserate in their single status.
In China, a single person is often referred to as a 光棍, which literally means a featureless stick. As such, those dates composed of all 1’s are all called 光棍节 Singles’ days. (i.e., In addition to November 11th, January 1st, January 11th, and November 1st are accepted as Singles’ days too.) But November 11th is considered the most significant.
The origin of Singles’ Day is fuzzy, but is generally described as a product of college campus jokes in the early 1990s.
[Update] Interestingly, a similar holiday on the very same date also started in Korea in the 1990s. It is called Pepero Day, named after a particular brand of chocolate sticks.
Some say that the dedicated food of the Singles’ Day is four 油条 deep-fried doughsticks and one 包子 stuffed bun, as shown and explained in the photo below.
As this cultural phenomenon becomes popular over the years, it is inevitably becoming commercialized. A couple of examples are shown below.
This looks like a rather cute gift for the Singles’ Day.
And this poster advertises a Singles’ Day party special as a Beijing club.