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It's 'Singles' Day' In China, A Shopping Extravaganza With Occasional Nudity

The holiday started as a joke for college-aged bachelors to celebrate themselves. Now it generates billions of dollars.

The one advantage of being single on Valentine's Day is that you don't feel obligated to spend a ton of cash -- lovebirds across the U.S. forked over $17.3 billion on Feb. 14th earlier this year -- but if you live in China, today's all about splurging to help your loneliness.

Guanggun Jie or "Singles' Day," which falls on Nov. 11 (11/11, because one is the loneliest number), began in the 1990s as a way for male Nanjing University students to ironically console themselves over their romantic ineptitude. It's become commercialized since then, but some singles still remember the reason for the season. Here's how people are celebrating...

Buying an INSANE amount of stuff

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In 2009, the e-commerce site Alibaba (which is kind of like China's Amazon.com) decided to mark Singles' Day with a massive sales event. Half a decade later, it's estimated to be the world's biggest shopping day, bringing in $9.3 billion in sales this year. (That's 260 million packages, approximately one for every five people in the world's most populous country.)

With as much as 50% off most merchandise, from computers to millions of undergarments, it's reportedly more lucrative than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Proposing to their significant others

Much like how Valentine's Day puts a lot of pressure on couples to get engaged, apparently a lot of guys in China want to lock things down with their ladies by Singles' Day, no matter the cost. Which explains that story you probably saw about the dude who reportedly proposed to his girlfriend with 99 iPhone 6s in the shape of a heart, only for her to say "no."

Fortunately, not everyone gets rejected. In 2011, 3,300 couples in Shanghai and 3,000 in Nanjing filed to get hitched for Singles' Day, "10 times the usual daily average," reported the BBC. Hey, engagement rings are discounted for Singles' Day like any other merchandise.

Trying to find a significant other

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That's a photo from a Singles' Day "matchmaking fair," which thousands of hopefuls attended. Last year, one event cost guys "up to $3,000...to meet eligible young women who attended for free," reported the New Republic. (And you thought prix fixe menus at restaurants on Valentine's Day were expensive...) A Singles' Day resolution to seek out a special someone must be like how a New Year's resolution gets you to the gym once or twice until you feel lazy again.

Getting introspective

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Loneliness has created some of the world's most enduring artwork, and this year Shanghai Glabal Harbor hosted the first "Lovelorn Exhibition," which collected 111 works of art representing solitude and "meaningful souvenirs for lovers such as roses, albums, wedding dresses, love letters and other precious personal mementos," according to Getty Images. It's nice to know that while the masses are clicking "buy," others are being all emo and human.

Getting naked

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If you're not taking off someone else's clothes on Singles' Day, you might as well take off your own. This Getty Images photo is captioned "Hundereds of men celebrate the Singles' Day by taking the skinny dipping," because why would shrinkage matter if you're all alone?

In Nanjing, a bunch of shirtless guys and bikini-clad women had a sexy street parade to mark the holiday. A "Singles' Day theme salon" hosted a "a bikini catwalk show." And at a shopping center in the city of Wuhan, "the first 200 people (age 18 to 40) who come only in underwear will get clothes worth up to 1,000 yuan for free," reported China Daily. "The organizer also invited half-naked 100 models in case people were too shy to take off their clothes."

Maybe single people have more fun after all?