Chinese Youngsters Celebrate Singles' Day
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If you see someone eating four fried dough sticks as breakfast on Thursday, he or she might be single.
The cold, windy Thursday is Guanggun Day, or single stick day, as the digits in the date "11.11" resemble four lonely sticks.
To 24-year-old Zhou Yan, the four fried dough sticks represent the four "ones" and an egg is the dot in between.
"All traditional festivals had their special food," he said, "On the dragon-boat festival we eat zongzi, while on the Mid-autumn Day we eat moon cake. Fried dough sticks should be the special food on Guanggun Day."
Zhou broke up with his girlfriend not long before Guanggun Day. In comparison, 31-year-old Zhang Kai from Shenyang, capital of northeast China' s Liaoning Province, seemed to be a "senior bachelor" .
He had been introduced to many girls by matchmakers. "On the busiest day I met three girls a day," said the man employed in a government office.
The date was hurried. "We met to see if each other was suitable for marriage and the dialogue was self-centered and somewhat awkward."
In fact, "be happy alone" became the slogan for bachelors this year, as a verse recently became popular on the Internet said: "No burden, no nagging, no dispute, no tears-life is short, freedom is precious."
Experts believe that the high speed of social development in China is changing people' s perceptions about dating and marriage.
According to Xu Lei, a marriage consultant in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang, more and more young people choose to delay getting married.
"In the past 10 years, the age of Chinese people getting married for the first time has gone up from 20-25 to 24-29," he said.
Among the reasons for this include young people being faced with more pressure in employment and buying houses.
Huang Yaoguang, 27, who works for the carmaker BYD, said his priority was his career. "Without a house and money, no one would want to marry me," he said. "As a man, my career is paramount."
On the other hand, as the only child in their family, many are not willing to be bound by wedlock too early, said Hu Shensheng, a sociologist with the Shanghai University.
"Young people, women in particular, are afraid of getting married," he said.
"When a woman is getting married, she would consider having a baby. But having a baby would affect her promotions."
Hu also pointed out that it could be hard for the elite group to find the other half. "Excellent as they are, they tend to aim too high," he said.
Whatever the reasons, singles also provide an opportunity for a new round of singles advertisements. For instance, China' s websites were full of advertisements about Singles' Day, such as the advertisement of the "mobile phone especially for bachelors" .
On Taobao.com, one of China' s largest online retail platforms, there were as many as 8,406 items labeled as "on sale for Singles' Day" , with the most popular being rings for singles and bachelor certificates.
In colleges, single students had basketball contests, went to Karaoke , and had dinner together. "Of course, we make wishes not to celebrate the day next year-which means we would no longer be bachelors," said a young man surnamed Ye from Guangdong.
Even those who are no longer singles "asked for a leave" with their spouse to celebrate Singles' Day.
Xiao Li from Shenyang has been married for two years.
"Whenever either of us had a party, the other would go as well-we had never been separated," she said.
But this year, her husband asked for a leave to "re-live the feeling of being single" .
"At first I was a little bit unhappy," she admitted. "But temporarily discarding the burdens of life and family chores is not a bad idea. I can go out with my close friends, as well. We had been estranged after marriage."
The most special individuals to celebrate Singles Day were a group of animals from zoos.
In Shenzhen, single animals were offered their favorite food.
The zoo in Kunming posted marriage-seeking notices for single animals on the Internet. "We hope to find spouses for some precious species so that they could breed offsprings," said Li Yajie, a manager with the Kunming Wildlife Park.
Human beings, of course, went to marriage-seeking parties as well.
The match-making site, hongniang.com, had many dating activities filled with participants.
"Most of the participants are white-collar workers," said Luo Xianlin, managing executive of the website. "Females are mostly between 25 and 35, while males are 30 to 40. The ratio of female to male was 4:3."
Zhang Kai said he was willing to make new friends on that day.
"But I am not just seeking a spouse," he said.
"My Miss Right? Let God decide!" A smile was on his face.
(Xinhua News Agency November 12, 2010)