Singles Day: from joke festival to carnival of commercialisation

by Toby Manhire / 13 November, 2012
China's Singles Day said to bring a new global record for online commerce.


Chinese postal services were logjammed last week for what the Shanghai Daily judges to be “probably the world's biggest online shopping event”.

Singles Day, celebrated every year on November 11 – 11/11 being four singles in a row – began in the 90s as “a joke festival when singles were teased about being unable to find a partner”, explains Susan Wong for the Xinhua news agency, “but gradually it became a chance for commiseration and comradeship.”

And in recent years it is “has turned into another chance to shop”.

With retailers straining to profit from a market of about 180 million single men and women, the day has become debased, writes Shu Meng in the Chinese Global Times.

It seems that Singles' Day is gradually turning into a carnival of shopping. With its commercialisation, our focus has shifted from concern with single people to crass consumerism.


All of which, writes Shu, both feeds on and foments a wider problem.

It is not a healthy social phenomenon for so many people to be living a single life. The increase in their numbers is a byproduct of rapid social development. Current society is fast-paced and high-pressured within which love is a time-consuming and high-cost activity for many young people. Inflation and sustained high housing prices increase the cost of marriage. These social problems make wedded bliss a luxury to those who lack financial security.

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