Celebrating singularity on 11/11

08:24, November 11, 2009      

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As they say, one is the loneliest number. But for those people who are without a significant other on this Singles' Day, they may be able to take some comfort in knowing they aren't alone in being alone.

Just look at the date: 11/11. Even a bunch of ones can keep each other company.

That's sort of what students at universities in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, had in mind nearly two decades ago when they cooked up the idea for a day just for single people. But little did they know it would grow in popularity as fast as it has, or prove to be a catalyst for hundreds of thousands to meet their future mates.

Statues of a couple of lovers stand in the snow in Beijing Tuesday. The so-called Singles' Day falls today, November 11. Photo: IC

Singles' Day, or guanggun jie, is said to have originated in the early 1990s, and the students picked November 11 because of the four 1's when it's written in Arabic numerals.

"The day was very popular when I was at college. It was said some of my alumni invented the day as a way to banish loneliness," Song Bufu, a 2001 graduate of Nanjing University, told the Global Times Tuesday.

It became a widespread cultural event after the students who started it graduated from college and continued to spread word of the day wherever their jobs took them, he said.

A singles celebration

Businesses and florists across the country, including clubs, cafes and website portals, have arranged various activities to attract singles today.

Li, a staff member at VICS nightclub in the Gongti area of Beijing, told the Global Times Tuesday that the club had invited prominent DJ Peng Peng to spin music throughout the night.

"Though our Singles' Day party poster has been up for just a week, half of the seats have already been booked," Li said.

Not everyone embraces being single come Singles' Day, though. Blind-date parties help people meet people, and even marriages are more common than usual. The thinking on the latter is that the four ones in the date can also signify "only one" love.

"I will suprise my girlfriend by throwing a candle party and proposing to her," Zhang Tiran, of Hunan Province, told the Global Times.

Online sales of chocolate bars and music cards that play pop songs suitable for singles have surged in recent weeks. Many were bought as gifts for bachelor friends in hopes that they are able to meet someone soon.

On douban.com, a popular social networking site, an indoor cake-making event sponsored by Beijing-based SNJS Dessert & Coffee House sparked considerable interest among youngsters. At least 100 people wanted to participate, but space was limited to 22 people – 11 men and 11 women. And couples aren't allowed.

Xiao Rui, a 28-year-old white-collar worker, plans to attend. He said it's a good opportunity to meet new friends.

"Young people's social circles are too narrow. And they are too busy working," he said.
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