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November 12, 2012

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City observes Singles Day with matchmaking, odes to freedom

IT can be a bitter and lonely "festival" for many unattached Chinese, but Singles Day was celebrated by some in Shanghai in a fun way.

Hu Jiandong, a local car salesman in his 30s, presented two pairs of chopsticks to each of his single friends as gifts while having lunch with them yesterday. All are bachelors.

Four chopsticks signify four "bare sticks," just as the date November 11 means unattached in Chinese.

"It should be celebrated, big or small, because it is a festival anyhow," he said with a grin. "You may feel frustrated, but you should explore some fun in life by yourself."

There were a variety of ways to mark the date.

Iris Wang, a 27-year-old single teacher, said she adjusted her schedule yesterday to try on a "single style" for fun.

"I ate two deep-fried dough sticks as breakfast, which look like four 'sticks' if you split them, and I had lunch at 11:11am and will go to sleep at 11:11pm," she said.

Some in Shanghai posted on the Internet that they took the No. 11 bus on the special day, while a bus stop at "Children's Park" in Shenzhen City of Guangdong Province, was nicknamed the "singles stop" as four buses, No. 1, 11, 111 and E11, all stop there.

A video called "single style" with the same tune as "Gangnam Style" circulated online. The lyrics were about the benefits of being single. "Singles live the most leisurely life! Singles are sad - nonsense!" a man sings.

Some people tried to cash in on the day, posting advertisements online and charging 100 yuan (US$16) to 500 yuan for a hug, holding hands, shopping, watching movies or having dinner together for those who felt lonely and wanted a temporary "partner" on the special day.

A large number of matchmaking events took place citywide yesterday.

A free matchmaking party hosted by Shanyue, a matchmaking website, attracted about 180 single participants.

"If you come, it means there is at least some possibility (of finding a girlfriend), which will be zero if you don't do anything," said Shanghainese Allen Gu, who is in his 30s and an employee of a logistics company.

He said he has a small circle of friends and acquaintances, which makes finding a partner tough.

A 50-year-old woman identified by her online name as "Xiaofei" said she hoped to find a man "who I can get along with." She works as a tourist guide and is divorced. Her daughter is 20 years old.

Singles Day may be an occasion when unattached people feel more lonely, but changing that status is not easy for the 180 million singles in China as not owning an apartment and a car has become the largest obstacle, a survey showed.

The survey released by the Committee of Matchmaking Service Industries and matchmaking website showed nearly 70 percent of women put an apartment as a requirement for marriage. Nearly 80 percent of women said men should earn at least 4,000 yuan per month for them to date, while 27 percent raised the criteria to 10,000 yuan every month.

"I think an apartment gives me a sense of security," said a local woman Nancy Chen, who works at a foreign trade company. At 29, she said she would not lower her requirements.

Tang Chunfeng, who established Shanyue, said the requirement of having an apartment scares away many single men since real estate keeps rising.


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