What is this “520 day” that so many Chinese are crazy about? 520 is a short form of the day of May 20; and, this date is another Valentine’s Day holiday in China. But why is this date Valentine’s Day? It may sound funny but “520” sounds phonetically very close to “I Love You”, or “Wo Ai Ni” in Chinese.
To many, February 14 is the Valentine’s Day every year to celebrate. But, people in China celebrate more than one Valentine’s Day. In addition to the one in February, they celebrate on 20 May 2020 (520 Day) and Qixi Festival. Both are uniquely Chinese Valentine’s Day.
520 or 521 “holiday” is not official but many couples celebrate this Chinese Valentine’s Day; and, 520 has this specific meaning for “I Love You” in China.
So, it’s a holiday for expressing romantic love in China for both couples and the singles.
520 Day in 2020
This is a special year in 2020 as the whole country continues to fight the pandemic and consumers’ behaviors are affected. So, this year’s “520 Day” is likely to be affected and not much crowd is expected. And, this Chinese holiday is not the same as before.
But, companies still try to utilize this festival to engage the audience online.
Take the luxury brand Prada for example. It created a topic #prada520# on one of the top social platforms Weibo and launched the campaign with its brand spokesperson Cai Xukun, which has attracted 180 million views as of 5 May.
Origin of May 20 / 520, China Internet Valentine’s Day
The “520 day” festival in China originated from the Taiwanese singer Fan Xiaolan’s song “Digital Love”, “520” is said to be “I love you”, and the close connection between “I love you” and “Internet lover” in an online song of musician Wu Yulong.
Later, “521” was gradually given the meaning of “I am willing” and “I love you” by lovers in China. “Online Valentine’s Day” is also known as “Marriage Day”, “Love Expression Day”, “Love Festival”, etc.
In fact, both May 20 & 21 days are China’s Internet Valentine’s Days every year, which are both phonetically the same as “I (5) love (2) you (0/1)” in Chinese. It has nothing to do with China’s thousands of years’ history; and, it is more of a product from commercial promotions in China in the 21st century.
It’s not a holiday in China, at least not an official public holiday. But, the restaurants and cinemas in the evening are much more crowded and pricey during this Chinese Valentine’s day.
Nowadays, 20 May is more important as a day of opportunity for men to express their romantic love for girls in China. That means ladies expect to receive gifts or hongbao on this day. This date is also often selected by some Chinese for the wedding ceremony.
Check out the video of how someone expresses his love on a “520” Valentine’s Day through numerical numbers:
Difference between 520 day and 521
520 is mainly a holiday set for women, while 521 is mainly a holiday set for men. Not all Chinese are aware of this too. But, some are very serious and hence the definition.
Men can choose to express “520” (I love you) to their wife, girlfriend or favorite goddess on May 20th. The day of May 21st is the day to get the answer. The moved lady replies to her husband or boyfriend with “521” to indicate “I am willing” and “I love you”.
The “Internet Valentine’s Day” on May 20th and May 21st of each year has become a lucky day for couples to get married and hold wedding ceremonies.
“520 day” for Marketers
As for marketers in China, you could take advantage of this festival and trend to reach and engage your audience.
For the e-commerce people who love to use the festival promotion, they can’t miss the online Valentine’s Day. Whether it is a sweet confession forwarded in WeChat Moments, or a variety of small gifts that are popular, it is difficult for the market to say “no” to the various good ideas that the festival has to match.
Today’s “5·20 confession day” has gradually become a great time for major business promotion. Rose orders are growing rapidly, chocolates are selling well, and hotels are bursting. These have become the standard for this ” 520 day festival”.
A few examples:
Topic #Sweet 520# had seen almost 4 million discussions and over 1 billion views as of 12pm on 20 May 2017.
Characteristics of 520 Valentine’s Day
“The ‘520’ homophonic is very good, young people are fashionable, some choose this day to get the marriage certificate. “520” is also being discussed by some young people in WeChat Moments, QQ group, as a hot topic. Many send WeChat red envelope (mostly male) to their lovers who will show off in the social media with a screen capture.
Many middle-aged people in their 40s and 50s have joined 520 festivals, sending flowers, chocolates, and delivering cakes.
The age of the people who pursue 520 day – online Valentine’s Day is mostly under 30 years old. They are easy to accept new things. Most of their free time is on the Internet. And the followers of the 2.14 Valentine’s Day are combined with the three generations of the old and the young, and those over the age of 30 who are more influenced by the tradition are more inclined to Valentine’s Day with a strong Western flavor.
On the 5th and 5th 21st online Valentine’s Day, the gifts sent out are more inclined to “spiritual”, such as: giving a hint of love to him or her through the Internet or mobile phone, 045692 (you are My favorite), 7785520 (kiss me, I love you), the other party naturally got the love you conveyed when correctly decoding the password.
Internet users pay attention to novelty, so the more creative the password is, the easier it is for your confession to succeed.
“214” (14 Feb) Valentine’s Day is more for lovers or couples with established relationships. And 520 Internet Valentine’s Day is more favored by men and women for expressing their love. Some are embarrassed to say “I love you” in person; therefore, with the help of the internet, with the use of digital passwords, they implicitly express “520”, “521”.