- New Zealand Listener - http://www.listener.co.nz -

Singles Day: from joke festival to carnival of commercialisation

Taobao Mall cashes in on Singles Day.

Chinese postal services were logjammed last week for what the Shanghai Daily judges [1] 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 [2], “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 [3].

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.