China’s Bachelor’s Day

11 Nov 2011

China’s “Bachelor’s Day” (光棍节) is becoming more and more internationally known. It is still, however, not what you might call “well-known” (that Wikipedia article, for example, is the shortest Wikipedia article I’ve seen in years!). Urban Dictionary offers this definition for “bachelor day“:

> November 11, a day represented by four digits of 1, dubbed by young single Chinese. The “Bachelor Day” has been initiated by single college students and, although enjoys no holiday leave, has become a vogue of the day among single white collars.

> I wish I could get lucky on the Bachelor Day this year.

It seems that this holiday has yet to catch on outside of China, but one is the loneliest number in any culture, so it may just be a matter of time. Sadly enough, this particular holiday is going to be more and more relevant to China, as the sex ratio imbalance here worsens. Already, I get the sense that the holiday is more relevant to single men than to single women here.

Anyway, the date for Bachelor’s Day this year is 2011-11-11, which is not only a rare concurrence of lots of 1’s in a date, but also extra bachelor-y.

Here are some images I collected from the web which show how this modern holiday is seen in China (and how it seems to focus on single men more):

Bachelor's Day (AKA Singles Day)

Bachelor's Day (AKA Singles Day)

Bachelor's Day (AKA Singles Day)

Bachelor's Day (AKA Singles Day)

There seem to be a lot of stick-like foods in the imagery, such as 油条 (fried dough sticks) and Pocky, and also a lot of cigarrettes:

Bachelor's Day (AKA Singles Day)

Bachelor's Day (AKA Singles Day)

And, of course, the holiday is also being used for marketing promotions. Taobao even set up a special page just for its Bachelor’s Day (AKA “Singles Day”) promotions:

Ad for Bachelor's Day (AKA Singles Day)

Ad for Bachelor's Day (AKA Singles Day)

Bachelor's Day (AKA Singles Day)

I have a feeling we’ll be hearing more and more about this holiday in years to come.

Finally, on a personal note, today is the day that my own daughter (our first child) was born! Hopefully we’re not condemning her to a life of loneliness.

I’m not planning to do any baby posts here (at least, not until the language acquisition begins), but I might be posting a bit less in the (sleep-deprived) days to come.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Congratulations to both of you, John! Daughters are awesome!

  2. I have a feeling that Bachelor’s Day is unlikely to take off in Australia, and/or other Commonwealth countries, as 11/11 is Remembrance Day, which marks the end of World War I, and on which we remember the members of our armed forces who died in the line of duty. It’s quite a sombre occasion, with wreath laying services at war memorials and a nation-wide minute of silence at 11am. I imagine celebrating something like bachelor’s day on the same day would be seen in poor taste.

    Congratulations on the birth of your daughter though!

  3. Congratulations! As Joel says, Daughters are indeed awesome.

    Might I suggest that your daughter doesn’t need to be condemned to a life of loneliness because, far from being Bachelor’s Day (which was started by a group of lonely Nanjing university students in the mid-90s, from memory), November 11 is in fact Armistice/Remembrance/Veterans Day. If she’s going to take inspiration from the date of her birth, then surely growing up to work for peace trumps Bachelors Day?

  4. Wow, congratulations!!!

  5. Peter Nelson Says: November 11, 2011 at 10:30 pm


  6. I like the “Bachelor’s Day” has turned into such an shopping sensation. China’s Bachelor’s day is very much like US’s “Black Friday”, the stores offer deep discounts, especially online stores… super exciting for business owners & millions of online shoppers.

    It is also my Birthday. I have enjoyed to be a “Bachelorette” while my girl friends are busy at changing diapers. I am a nature-born loner, I like to live & do things alone. but I have never been lonely. I am happier than most of my married friends. I am happy with myself–that’s what counts.

    the most strange thing: My maried friends often need me to play their “marriage consultant”, some of their children wish I were their Mom.

  7. Congratulations, John.

    Our own daughter was registered on the day yours was born, having arrived three weeks ago. Hope mother and daughter are doing well. Get ready for one hell of a ride.

  8. I’ve been following your blog for a long time. One of the things that helped bring me over to China!

    Congratulations on the little girl!

  9. I was TOEFL 1989-1991.

    My first year was in Shenyang, and then onto Taiwan.

    I would be very curious about the general environment for foreign teachers, today including the attitude of locals outside your school setting.

    I doubt you have condemned her to a life of loneliness – she’ll come up in The World with her eyes open.

    If she’s interested in Chinese men, she’ll never lack company.

    Shenyang, Helongjian 1989
    Hualien, Taiwan 1990-1992

  10. Congratulations!

  11. That is wonderful! Congrats!

  12. Congrats John. That’s great. The sleep deprevation will still go on for a while but that’s normal. Don’t be surprised if some intercultural issues surface between you and your wife/parents-in-law….that’s at least what happened with us because you all of sudden face a bunch of situations you haven’t dealt with yet. The first half year wasn’t easy and from then on it just got noticebly better with each month.
    All the best to you and your family!

  13. Just adding to the chorus of congratulations John.

    I like to fancy myself as someone who has done some, at least mildly, interesting things in his life. Not all of it combined could come close to the significance of becoming a father.

    I agree with David, and would add that it extends far beyond just immediate family. I live on a tropical island, my kid is running around in shorts dripping sweat and well-meaning old ladies still insist I’m cruel and a bad parent for not dressing him warmly enough.

    From the heart, all the best to you, your wife and daughter.

  14. Mary Wang (王喆) Says: November 14, 2011 at 11:38 pm


  15. Jaques Aandy Says: November 15, 2011 at 6:16 am

    Wonderful news.
    Daughters rock !! Congratulations.

  16. Abigail Siner Says: November 15, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Congratulations from a big ChinesePoddie fan of yours.

  17. wow, I go away for a few months and when I come back John has a daughter, Congratulations!

    on the 11.11 thing, yeah, the Chinese here in Dublin have it and the restaurants where happy enough about it too, I was mighty tempted as I am at the 6 year itch(sting) in my marriage and there are lots of girls I know well but I am not that low 😉

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