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One Is The Loneliest Number

November 11 is a special day in most of the world. Throughout the British Commonwealth, it is Remembrance Day, and for good reason: to remember the million or more soldiers who lost their lives in World War One, which ended (in the West, at least) on November 11, 1918. It’s also a public holiday in France and Belgium, which suffered even more. And in the United States, it is Veterans Day, set aside to honor all of those who have served in the armed forces, in war and in peace.

But by far the biggest November 11 observances this year will be in China, where 11/11 is Singles Day. It’s the day when China’s one-child children come together to moan about how lonely they are — and maybe to find that special someone they can moan with.

Part Valentine’s Day and part Black Friday (the American after-Thanksgiving Christmas shopping export), 11/11 is a very recent addition to China’s holiday calendar. It supposedly originated in the men’s dorms at Nanjing University in the mid-1990s. Bummed at being single and sexless, four lonely guys resolved to party on the loneliest day of the year: quadruple-1 day, or 11/11. That’s four 1’s, each one alone. How poignant.

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