Today, November 11th, is Veterans Day in the good old US of A. But in the far flung part of the world that is China, Nov. 11 stands for something completely different. In China, today is "Singles Day", a day where people lament and celebrate being single and do so by spending buttloads of money online.
Singles Day, also known as single-stick day, is a made-up holiday in China that has only come to be in recent years. The idea of the "holiday" is to celebrate being single on the day of all 1's. On this day, at least according to Baidu and Wikipedia, single young people party with their friends. Eventually, this celebration of bachelor and bachelorette-hood became something of an internet phenomenon.
According to various sources in and out of China, the idea behind Singles Day was a joke between friends in Nanjing University. The joke would eventually become the number one online shopping day in the world when Alibaba decided to turn it into the Chinese equivalent of Cyber Monday in 2009. On this day, there are crazy online deals from electronics to baby clothes. Deals range from the pedestrian 10 percent off to crazy 90 percent off. Shipping is also free today for most places.
Since 2009, online sales in China from Singles Day has grown to the point where it over took Cyber Monday in the US last year. This year, Singles Day is projected to hit over $4 billion in total sales. TechinAsia.com reports that the Alibaba's Tmall.com has already seen $1 billion worth of sales within the first 50 minutes.
The event has become such a big thing that advertisers have started preparing for it months in advance. Singles Day also boasts some of China's quirkiest ads, like the ones from prophylactic maker Durex.
Even as I write this post, many of my colleagues and friends within China are online, grabbing deals. Heck, I even received a text message from my mobile phone carrier to double my monthly bandwidth in celebration of this day — something I might just pounce on.
With all of this mindless consumerism happening in China, it doesn't seem like it's too different from good old 'Murica any more, does it?
Scratch that, China is still very different.
Top Photo: JMiks| Shutterstock
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Eric is a Beijing based writer and all around FAT man. You can contact him @FatAsianTechie@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @FatAsianTechie.