11 November, 2011


Today seems to be a pretty eventful day for everyone, regardless of your interests or culture…  

First and foremost, today is Veteran’s Day—formerly Armistice Day (still Armistice Day in other countries); a day first celebrated to recognise the end of “The Great War”. Despite the Treaty of Versailles being signed in June of 1919, fighting ceased seven months sooners, specifically on 11 November, 1918.

However, more significantly with the youth culture (or what I remember of it), it seems as though today will be viewed as a lucky day. For whatever reason, there’s a fascination with the time 11:11. People believe if you make a wish when the clock flashes this time, it will come true. (However, only people with digital clocks will ever notice.)

I don’t understand it. People just love patterns, and there’s no better pattern on a digital clock that 11:11, I guess. Because of this fascination, the alignment of today’s date’s digits makes it fortuitous—or foreboding, if you’ve seen trailers for the horror movie premiering today). I read a snippet online about how Vegas chapels are going to have a pretty busy day.

Today is also being recognised as Nigel Tufnel Day. I’m ashamed that didn’t mean anything to me until I read who Nigel Tufnel was. Then it made me laugh. One of my friends here in Lanzhou was dismayed to hear I’d never seen Spinal Tap, so much so that he told me he was downloading it so I will watch it.

Also! Today is Kurt Vonnegut's birthday.

I even read an adorable article today about the Corduroy Appreciation Club hosting a grand event, because today’s date mirrors wales so well.

And while all these particular celebrations coalesce over yonder (because, in my head, that’s an endearing way to refer to the States?), on this side of the Pacific, today is celebrated quite differently.

11 November is called guanggun, which literally means “bare sticks”, in reference to the numerical date; guanggun is also a slang term for “single people”. 11 November is Singles’ Day.

To be fair, this isn’t an official Chinese holiday. China Daily describes it best, as a “pop culture” holiday. My students really like the idea. They’ve been telling me about it for weeks, and made sure I remembered this morning during class. However, just as wishes will indubitably come true because of the year’s extra 11, today is being called Giant Singles’ Day or (and this is the superior name) Magical Singles’ Day.

In reading about the nuances of this Chinese holiday, I found a pretty fantastic quotation: “If someone is willing to help me celebrate Magical Singles’ Day this year, I’ll give them something to celebrate on Father’s Day next year”.

My students couldn’t really explain how one was supposed to celebrate Singles’ Day. I wondered if I would get some comments similar to the Anti-Valentine’s Day snark I hear every year back home, but luckily I did not. I suggested that all the ladies in the room find themselves a cute boy to settle down with (my classes are about 85% female). They just giggled and blushed. Had I been more prepared, I would have had a ghetto blaster preloaded with Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies”.

I know, a serious missed opportunity… especially because my students are convinced that I am a good dancer. It could have been my chance to perform the dance; I bought a black leotard to practice and everything.

Instead of leaving you on that horrific mental image, I’ll leave you with a bit of math. I assume that is really what people’s fascination with the day is. The number one, and by extension eleven, give us a lot of interesting patterns…


You get the idea…

Have a ONEderful day.

(And for you coincidence-lovers out there, the 111th word in my blog is "true".)