What is Singles' Day? When is national day of celebration? How do people celebrate? Plus expert opinion on day

People are expected to spend around £2billion in the UK this Singles' Day, either on gifts for themselves or on early Christmas presents for friends and family. Stock image by Adobe Photos.People are expected to spend around £2billion in the UK this Singles' Day, either on gifts for themselves or on early Christmas presents for friends and family. Stock image by Adobe Photos.
People are expected to spend around £2billion in the UK this Singles' Day, either on gifts for themselves or on early Christmas presents for friends and family. Stock image by Adobe Photos. | Prostock-studio - stock.adobe.com
People are expected to spend around £2billion in the UK this Singles' Day - here's when it is and what it is

"If you are single after graduation, there isn't one occasion when people celebrate you," once said iconic writer and fashionista Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City.

Her friend, Charlotte York, reminds her that there are birthdays - but she retorts that everyone gets birthdays, regardless of their relationship status. She even adds: "Hallmark doesn't make a 'congratulations you didn't marry the wrong guy' card." That is true. Now, it seems that Hallmark - and many other businesses across the world - have listened as there a unique occasion for those unattached to indulge themselves and celebrate their solo status is coming up - Singles' Day.

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As far as we know though, there still isn't a 'congratulations you didn't marry the wrong guy' card in the 20 years since Sarah Jessica Parker's Bradshaw spoke the words. Although, these days, you could easily get a personalised one made if you did want one. But the main thing is that, in a world where millions of us are single, there is finally a day specifically to acknowledge that lifestyle choice.

Relationship coach and founder of Banish life coaching for women Louise Tullin, told NationalWorld that "it’s absolutely right that there’s a day to celebrate being single". She adds that people are "hard-wired to think that being in a relationship is nirvana", but this is not the case for everyone. Love can come in many forms, of course, so National Singles' Day can also be time to celebrate friendships or family - and some therefore use it as a chance to get ahead with their Christmas shopping.

So, just what is Singles' Day, when is it and how do people celebrate? Here's the answers to those questions and more.

What is Singles' Day?

Singles' Day as a day dedicated to self-appreciation and indulgence. It was originally called Bachelors' Day and began as a Chinese official holiday which celebrates people who are not in a relationship. As with many other days of celebration, however, it has spread worldwide.

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The date of 11 November was chosen because when the date is written out in number form it is four ones (11.11), and of course one is best number to choose for a holiday which focuses on the celebration of being single and independent.

People are expected to spend around £2billion in the UK this Singles' Day, either on gifts for themselves or on early Christmas presents for friends and family. Stock image by Adobe Photos.People are expected to spend around £2billion in the UK this Singles' Day, either on gifts for themselves or on early Christmas presents for friends and family. Stock image by Adobe Photos.
People are expected to spend around £2billion in the UK this Singles' Day, either on gifts for themselves or on early Christmas presents for friends and family. Stock image by Adobe Photos. | Prostock-studio - stock.adobe.com

When is Singles' Day?

Singles Day is held annually on 11 November.

Singles' Day - how to people celebrate?

It is common for people to celebrate Singles' Day by buying gifts for themselves. Treating oneself to gifts or experiences on this day can be seen as an act of self-care and self-love, reinforcing the idea that looking after one's own wellbeing is a priority, Psychologist Doctor Louise Goddard-Crawley told NationalWorld.

Psychotherapist Kamalyn Kaur told NationalWorld that just as someone might go for a massage, visit a spa, or book a haircut as a form of self-care, for some, buying themselves a gift is their way of self-care. Plus, she says, it is a great way for someone to boost their mood and feel overall happier. It's also very empowering for someone to buy themselves something they want because they don't have to wait for someone else to get it for them.

Counsellor Georgina Sturmer told NationalWorld: "We often fall into the trap of thinking that buying gifts is something that we do to celebrate other people, but we also know how important it is to care for ourselves to make decisions that are good for our wellbeing.  So, when we choose to buy ourselves a gift, we are sending ourselves a message that we are deserving of the same thoughtful gestures that we might ordinarily reserve for other people."

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Singles' Day - positive or negative?

Although it was created to be a good thing, experts say that Singles' Day can be viewed positively or negatively, and it all depends on individuals' perception of their single status.

Dr Goddard-Crawley says that it can be "a wonderful and empowering concept". It serves as a reminder to embrace and celebrate one's single status, placing it on par with the way couples are celebrated on Valentine's Day every February 14, she says. Tullin adds: "Valentine’s Day can be a depressing day for many, so to have the antithesis offers a support system where people can feel a strong sense of social connectivness."

This celebration can promote self-acceptance and self-love. Dr Goddard-Crawley adds: "In a world where society often places great emphasis on romantic relationships as the primary source of happiness, it's vital to acknowledge that being single is a valid and fulfilling lifestyle choice. It encourages individuals to appreciate and value themselves, irrespective of their relationship status."

The celebration of National Singles' Day is also a positive affirmation of self-empowerment and choice, says Dr Goddard-Crawlery. She believes it emphasises that individuals should be free to make choices based on their own values and desires, rather than feeling pressured by societal norms or expectations. She adds: "It highlights the importance of personal choice in matters of the heart, encouraging everyone to embrace their unique path to happiness."

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Kaur echoed Dr Goddard-Crawley's thoughts and also told NationalWorld that the day is important as if certain social events are organised specifically for singles this will "foster a sense of community and solidarity amongst single people". Yasmin Shaheen-Zaffar, a BACP Accredited Counsellor, told NationalWorld that the day also provides a chance for people to reset their priorities on themselves in between their romantic relationships, rather than rushing to couple up.

Sturmer adds that the day can help single people to feel validated. Throughout life we are encouraged to offer gifts to celebrate other people’s events and relationships, she says, so if we are single this might mean that we have offered countless thoughtful gifts to celebrate other people’s weddings, anniversaries, and baby showers but not received any in return. This might lead to a sense of frustration or resentment, so Singles Day can send a powerful message to challenge the status quo and remind people that all of our decisions and life choices are worthy of a celebration.  

Dr Goddard-Crawley does warn, however, that going shopping and buying new things should not be used as a way to attempt to fix any negative feelings a person may have towards being single. She says: "For some, buying gifts for themselves on National Singles Day might offer a momentary respite from loneliness. Loneliness can be a complex and challenging emotion, and while material gifts may provide a temporary distraction, they can't fully address the need for meaningful social connections. Building strong relationships and social bonds, whether through friendships or other forms of support, remains essential for overall wellbeing."

Shaheen-Zaffar says, however, that while some suggest the day might amplify feelings of solitude, others view it as an opportunity to celebrate independence as self-gifting can serve as a nurturing act that bolsters self-esteem.

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Singles' Day - an opportunity for consumers and retailers

Singles' Day often serves as an opportunity for retailers to boost sales through targeted marketing campaigns, catering to singles looking to treat themselves. This aspect can be beneficial for the economy, particularly as it encourages consumer spending. Some retailers may offer certain promotions or producs for the day, which leads to sales for them and also offers customers a chance to get a bargain or an exclusive item.

Although initially slow to embrace it, canny UK shoppers are now welcoming the massive savings on offer, says the home delivery expert ParcelHero. The firm also claims that we should expect a £2billion shopping spree on Singles' Day. ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says: ‘ParcelHero’s latest research shows the Singles Day global spend was over $139bn (£112bn) last year.

"There’s a feeling among some retailers that Brits have yet to fully embrace Singles Day. Perhaps that’s because it clashes uneasily with Remembrance Day celebrations here. However, in 2021 UK Singles Day sales reached £1.72bn and climbed to £1.97bn last year, according to the retail statistics expert Statista. With retail prices still high and inflation yet to fall enough to take the strain off our family finances, we are all in need of some pre-Christmas bargains. With that in mind, we believe Brits will embrace Singles Day and splash £2bn."

Favourite UK retailers such as ASOS, M&S and Waitrose have held Singles Day sales in recent years, with major UK brands such as Dyson, Burberry and Jaguar-Land Rover joining in the sales opportunity too. UK stores River Island, New Look, Zavvi and Sports Direct have also offered Singles Day deals. In 2021, ASOS in the UK held a snap 20% off everything sale, and the consumer site Vouchercodes is tipping a similar event his year. Boohoo also offered up to 25% off items last year and Pretty Little Things is also tipped to reveal some big Singles Day fashion savings this year. For tech shoppers, Samsung and Lenovo are also expected to be seizing the event.

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