OBSERVER NEWS

One is the Loneliest Number: A Celebration

Never Heard of Singes’ Day? Never Fear – Susan Wang Is Here to Fill You In

BY SUSAN WANG

If you missed Valentine’s Day, chances are you have:

1) Shattered the expectations of some poor individual who was pining for your affection;

2) You shared in the annual showering of love and affection from your significant other;

OR

3) Like most people, the reminder of Valentine’s Day is pouring a gallon of salt into your wounds.  

To those of you who are single, your status will not be overshadowed by the marketing ploy that is Valentine’s Day. For one day in November, to be single is worthy of celebration. Welcome to 11.11, Singles’ Day, known to everyone in China as “Guanggun Jie”  or “Bare Branches Day.”

What on earth is Singles’ Day?

Good question. Even I was perplexed by this cultural phenomenon. As the days drew closer, a couple of questions immediately came up.

Is Singles’ Day a day to empower all the single people out there to rebel against the notion of relationships?  

  1. Is it similar to Single’s Awareness Day (anti-Valentine’s Day)? Would one rally with all one’s friends, have a loud sob fest over another predictable yet vapid romantic comedy whilst inhaling endless amounts of chocolates and questioning the lack of romance in one’s life?

OR

  1. Does one go searching throughout the city, throughout all those dating apps to find love to find a connection and NOT be single?

So what does one do?

While the answer appears to be YES to all of the above, it turns out while Singles’ Day is the anti-Valentine’s Day, a celebration of being single, it boils down to simply treating yourself.

So what do you treat yourselves to? As the fictional characters Donna Meagle and Tom Haverford of the hit NBC series “Parks and Recreation would” say, “clothes, fragrances, massages, mimosas, fine leather goods.”

Essentially, it’s the best day of the year.

Ever since Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, coined the term “Double 11” and ignited the marketing lull between National Week and Spring Festival in 2009, Singles’ Day was not to be ignored.

Cyber Monday? Black Friday? They don’t stand a chance against this tidal wave. Prices were slashed nearly in half this year, and consumers hit online merchants in full force to the point where sales made new records this year. Within 12 hours, merchants made $14.3 billion, an increase from the $9.3 billion made in 2014.  Riding up to the notorious 11.11, you could not escape it. You could not hide. “Shuang yi is coming.” Your phone would be blowing up with notifications from every social media platform. In every subway station, giant posters of handsome celebrities reclining on beds of roses enticed you at every moment, reminding you to jump on those deals, to fulfill your desires and shop till your fingers drop. Regardless, you are seizing the day. No matter how crazy the shopping gets, no matter how much money is depleted from your bank accounts, there are no regrets.

How has the world reacted to this?

While Singles’ Day is nearly unheard of in the West, I would like to remain optimistic that Singles’ Day will make its way over through one influential person, Taylor Swift.

Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour stopped at the Mercedes Benz Arena on 11.11, one of three nights she performed in Shanghai. It felt too good to be true that she was performing to thousands upon thousands of crazed fans on Singles’ Day. What better person to promote being single, to never ever ever getting back together, to remind your former partners your memories will follow them around? And what better way to experience Singles’ Day? I will say, from being inside the arena that night watching her perform, surrounded by friends, hearing all the best songs, no other Singles’ day can ever trump this one. Genius. Simply genius, T-Swift. You definitely know your audience, breaking hearts everywhere.

So when November rolls around again next year and that pang of loneliness starts to settle into your brain, remind yourself to mark the 11th. Enjoy Singles’ Day, embrace the fact that you’re single. If you happen to not be single, it’s Valentine’s Day round two, don’t forget again! A few tips for you rookie Singles’ Day people: go celebrate with your other single friends, rejoice in your continued sense of independence with generous amounts of chocolate dipped pocky sticks and your favorite Taylor Swift albums (1989 is highly recommended), and hop on Taobao to enjoy the cathartic release that is retail therapy. Treat yourself!

 

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