While around the world thousands of people have celebrated St. Valentine’s Day on Sunday by spending time with their partners, in China over the last two decades, an alternative trend has emerged: ‘Single’s Day’.
Far from being a day of sorrow, the Chinese young generation’s celebrate the beauty of being single every November, on the 11th day of the 11th month. The date of course, is not a coincidence. It is made up of four ‘1’’s and it also reminds the Chinese of ‘bare branches’, the Chinese word for singles. It is also known as the Chinese anti-Valentine’s Day.’
The celebration of the day started from an idea of university students in Nanjing, China. Initially the day was an occasion to enjoy the company of friends with parties, celebrations and the buying of presents to gift to other singles. Sometimes “blind dates” were organised to make sure that the singles were not such for too long.
Since the nineties, Singles Day has seen a rapid growth in collective participation and has become very popular. Special festivals, online sales and celebrations are organised for the occasion thanks also to the rise of Internet as a channel of communication.
While this day is seen by many as a way to simply oppose Valentine’s Day and others claim it to be another chance for businesses to make profit, single’s day can have a more profound meaning even from a Confucian perspective.
Confucius said in the Analects (XII.1):
“Conquer yourself and return to li [virtue]: that is ren [benevolence]. If a person could conquer himself and return to li for a single day, the world would respond to him with ren. Being ren proceeds from oneself, how could it come from others?”
In a Confucian sense the 11th of November could be a day to conquer oneself and affect the world around. Although being single is often ridiculed or seen as an aberration, this day can be an opportunity for reflection and personal growth until a special one will come into your life.
This Valentine’s day many might have not conquered a valentine, but they might have come closer to conquering themselves by the virtue of Ren and Li.
Read more about Single’s day here.
Quote of the week:
“A man who daily assesses
what he has yet to understand and who,
month by month, does not forget what he has
mastered may be said to love learning”. – The Analects, XIX.5