China Focus: Couples rush to marry, singles look for romance on "Super Single's Day"

Updated: 2011-11-10 15:54:00

(Xinhua)

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NANCHANG, November 10 (Xinhua) -- November 11, 2011, or 11/11/11, has been recognized by many Chinese people as Super Single's Day or Divine Single's Day as this year falls in numerical harmony with the annual November 11 Single's Day, an informal holiday for those not involved in committed relationships.

Single's Day has been celebrated on November 11 since the 1990s, because the date is entirely composed of the single digit "1".

But many Chinese bachelors and bachelorettes are looking at 11/11/11 as an auspicious date and they are determined to end their unattached days by taking the plunge of getting married or entering into a romantic relationship on that day.

ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY

People around the world prefer to get married on auspicious dates, and Chinese speakers have no shortage of traditionally lucky numbers: the number 10 means perfection; 9 implies eternity; 8 refers to wealth; 6 bring lucks and 7 does not.

Official records show that last year's most sought-after date was 10/10/10, with over 11,000 couples registering for marriage in Beijing alone. While the number was lower than 19,000 on September 9, 2009 (09/09/09) and 15,000 on August 8, 2008 (08/08/08), it was still far above average.

Those dates, as well as this Friday's 11/11/11 and next year's 12/12/12, appear just once a century.

Although the number 11 does not have any particular significance for Chinese speakers, some believe it could positively influence their luck by having a marriage certificate dated for that magical day.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come up with a wedding date like this, and we won't miss it," said Wan Qiang, a husband-to-be from east China's Jiangxi Province.

Wan and his girlfriend of seven years, Tao Yiting, have decided to register on Friday.

"We will also have an easy-to-remember anniversary," Wan added.

They are one of many couples creating a surge in marriage registrations in cities across China for that Friday.

Couples have been making appointments since early October, according to Lei Peng, a worker at a grassroots marriage registration station in Jiangxi's provincial capital of Nanchang.

Moreover, reports show that Shanghai's civil affairs authority had received over 3,200 applications for Friday's registration as of Tuesday.

It has become difficult to book a hotel for a wedding ceremony this Friday in some areas, although weekdays were not usually booked in the past.

A SACRED TRADITION

Despite the happy plans of soon-to-be newlyweds, some remaining singles have decided to carry on the tradition of the so-called "sacred once-a-century festival."

Traditionally, only singles can enjoy November 11, especially in this special year, according to a popular post appearing on several major Chinese Internet portals.

The post even encouraged those in love to break up before Friday, so they can qualify as singles and be eligible for the day's special arrangements.

Ironically, many activities proposed by singles were somehow intended to create opportunities for them to meet new friends or romantic interests, as various kinds of bachelor parties and matchmaking gatherings will be held for singles on Friday.

A BITTER TASTE IN SINGLES' MOUTHS

Hudong, a popular Chinese online encyclopedia, and Baidu, China's largest search engine, have both created entries featuring interesting interpretations of this special day.

For example, the six 1s put together make it the second Children's Day (6/1 or June 1) of the year, the entries said.

These kinds of jokes may appeal to the general public, but the holiday has left a bitter taste in the mouths of a considerable portion of China's unmarried population.

Ma Xiao has worked for four years at a local media firm in Nanchang, but feels that marriage is out of his reach.

"I feel desperate when asked whether I own an apartment on a first date, and that puts so much pressure on me," said Ma.

Ma falls into a group sometimes referred to as "excess people," referring to those willing to get married but unable to due to their relatively older age -- usually 30 or older.

As they grow older, they feel more social pressures which add to their physiological pressure, noted Shuai Qing, an associate research fellow with the Jiangxi Academy of Social Sciences.

Inferior economic status often hinders self-confidence and busy work schedules tend to block social activities, Ma said, adding that they should expand their social networks and adopt more positive attitudes toward marriage.

Meanwhile, Single's Day in China implies a "bachelors' day" for unmarried men. Chinese women, however, face the same problem, as both genders must jump the same hurdles in order to get married.

This trend of "excess people" has helped several primetime TV dating programs win unprecedented national fame in recent years.

Data from the latest census on the Chinese mainland shows that a trend of "excess men" is likely to continue. Men made up 51.27 percent of the entire population in 2010, but the male/female ratio at birth that year stood at 118.08, meaning there could be over 30 million bachelors unable to find a wife by 2020.