May 20 is Yet Another Chinese Valentine's Day, Here's Why

By Emma Li, May 19, 2018

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The Explainer is where we explain an aspect of Chinese life. Simple. So now you know.

Think of May 20 as young netizens' Valentine's Day. This is in addition to the other two lovers' days that people celebrate in China: traditional Chinese lovers' day (七夕) on lunar July 7, and Western Valentine's Day on February 14.

"5.20" originated from the Internet, as many things do. And like many other internet terms, this one is based on pronounciation. The Chinese pronounciation for "five two zero" sounds like "I love you." Recently, people are also involving the next day in the gimmick, 5.21, which sounds like "I do" or "I am willing."

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In China, many holidays are a craze, official or not, and this one is no exception. According to QQ News, roses that normally sell for RMB3 each are around RMB20 on this special day. Imported roses are all above RMB300 each across city flower shops, and that's for a single rose! 

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Thinking of getting married on May 20? Good luck with that. In Shanghai, the government office for marriage certificates opens at 8am, but couples started lining up as early as 6am in the past on May 20. Hubei province's Wuchang District scored a record high in 2015 with 691 pairs receiving their certificates in the district's marriage office.

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May 20 is a day to show a special someone you care, but maybe you've decided that roses are too expensive or mainstream. 

Here are some inspirational alternatives netizens came up with to personalize their act of love.

This man mailed himself as a package to his girlfriend's house. His "wrapping" was a Santa costume (who knows why...) and he stuck a package receipt onto his chest. The delivery man even called the recipient, insisting that she pick up her package herself.