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

By Emma Li, May 17, 2024

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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: Western Valentine’s Day on February 14; and traditional Chinese lovers’ day, Qixi, (七夕) on lunar July 7.

READ MORE: Explainer: The Story of Qixi, AKA Chinese Valentine's Day

‘5.20’ originated from the internet, as many things do these days. And, like many other internet terms, this one is based on pronunciation – the Chinese pronunciation for ‘five two zero’ (wu er ling) sounds like ‘I love you’ (wo ai ni).

Recently, people have also involved the next day in the gimmick – 5.21 sounds like ‘I do’ or ‘I am willing.’ 

Image via DKNB

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 often over RMB300 each across city flower shops, and that’s for a single rose! 

Images via China News

Thinking of getting married on May 20? Good luck with that.

In Shanghai, the government office for marriage certificates opens at 8am, but in the past couples have started lining up as early as 6am on May 20.

In Zhengzhou, capital of Henan Province, hundreds of couples lined up outside the city’s marriage registration office, waiting to make it ‘official’ on this unofficial holiday.

Last year, marriage registration offices in Guangzhou and Shenzhen were fully operational for 24 hours on May 20.

READ MORE: 520 Day Marriage Registration Opens 24 Hours

love.jpgImage via Weibo

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 have come up with to personalize their act of love.

Image via Sohu

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.


Image via Bastille Post

Here, a male cosplayer dressed up as a sperm cell for his girlfriend. Subtle, no?


Image via Sohu

This last marriage proposer met his girlfriend at a hot dog shop while traveling in Thailand. Turned out they were from the same city, so they became friends and eventually lovers. He proposed by spelling out ‘I love you’ with hot dog buns.

Who could say no to that?

For all you lovers out there, we've put together this guide of where to get amorous this year...

As for all you singles out there: fear not, China also has a Singles’ Day dedicated to you on November 11.

READ MORE: 11 Things You Need to Know About Singles' Day

This article was originally published on in May 2016. It has been updated and republished on May 19, 2023.

For more of The Explainer, click here.

[Cover image via Pai Hang Bang]

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