By Susan Wong
BEIJING, Nov. 9 (Xinhuanet) -- November 11 has been celebrated as Singles' Day in China since the 1990s, chosen because of its 11/11 - four singles in a row. Originally, it was a joke festival when singles were teased about being unable to find a partner, but gradually it became a chance for commiseration and comradeship.
However, it's gradually turned into another chance to shop. This year, several e-commerce companies such as 360buy, Tmall and Dangdang have already launched their shopping promotions ahead of time.
Unlike Valentine's Day, the singles' shopping festival welcomes everybody, no matter whether single or married. This makes it clear that it is an ordinary price war wearing the cloak of emotional consumption. If you search for "Singles' Day" on the Internet, what pops up is not tips to flourish on your own or parties where you can meet a potential Mr or Ms Right, but news about the battle of the online shopping malls.
Chinese have long been embracing Western festivals. The amounts that Chinese spend on these festivals are much greater than those of traditional Chinese festivals such as Qixi, the "Chinese Valentine's Day." But the popularity of all these foreign festivals is not just because they meet the emotional needs of the Chinese public, but also that businesses heavily promote them.
Western festivals have deep cultural roots, just like their Chinese counterparts. Halloween is All Saint's Eve, not just an excuse to carve pumpkins, and Valentine's Day is the feast of the martyred St. Valentine, not just a chance to give chocolate.
Singles' Day, which started on Chinese campuses, can be seen as a contemporary Chinese cultural creation. However, before it could grow some real culture of its own, it was already commercialized. The roses of love could have blossomed, but they've already been replaced by coupons.
Regrettably, such commercialization doesn't only happen in China. Even Thanksgiving hasn't evaded the trend. Every "Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving, sees chaos and even injuries as mobs of eager shoppers pour into malls offering deep discounts.
What's important is not what festivals we celebrate, but what we do with them. On Thanksgiving, beside eating turkey, we could review the painful history of relations with the Native Americans whose generosity saved the first European settlers. Similarly, when we eat zongzi, the traditional Chinese stuffed rice, at the Dragon Boat Festival, why not read the poems of Qu Yuan, one of the figures celebrated by the festival?
It's time to rethink the overwhelming trend of commercialization.
(Source: Global Times)