For most young and single men and women, the New Year’s festivities are something to look forward to. In China, however, millions of single twenty-somethings are already dreading the celebration of Chinese New Year next month (Spring Festival, February 19, 2015). China’s People’s Daily (2015) writes that according to recent statistics, 80% of China’s bachelors and bachelorettes over the age of 24 experience pressure by their families to get married when they go home for the holiday period. The festival is now also nicknamed the “marriage pressure holiday” (催婚假期).
The careless days are over for those born in the early 1990s: their parents are expecting they get married sometime soon. Recently, several large Chinese dating sites held a survey amongst their users and found that there is a 40% increase in blind dates after the Chinese Spring Festival (People’s Daily 2015). These blind dates are often arranged by the parents, who attend blind date events where they search for suitable partners for their single sons or daughters.
For single women, the pressure to get married is especially tangible as they are generally expected to marry before the age of 25. One survey by dating site Cherished Love (zhenai.com), that was held amongst 1452 single men and women, shows that 50% of the single men think that women who are still single at the age of 25 are ‘leftovers’. The majority of the women only think single ladies are ‘leftover’ when they are still unmarried at the age of 30.
The term ‘leftover women’ (‘shengnu’ 剩女) has been a popular term in China’s (social) media for years. It refers to twenty-something, single, well-educated urban women who have difficulties in finding a partner that can live up to their expectations. Their disadvantage in finding a partner relates to existing ideas in Chinese culture about the “ideal” marriage age of women. The pressure to get married has even created an online market where women can ‘rent-a-boyfriend’ for the holidays.
The male counterpart of the ‘shengnu, the ‘shengnan’ (剩男), also faces great difficulty in finding a bride, although his problem is related more to statistical challenges (the shortage of Chinese women at marriage age), than it is to high demands or age. Generally, it is more acceptable for men to get married at a higher age.
According to the survey, China’s single men and women agree on one thing: 80% of them think both men and women should be married between the ages of 24 and 30 (People’s Daily 2015).
People’s Daily. 2015. “5成男性认为女性25岁仍单身即为剩女.” Renminwang [People’s Daily]. January 4. http://news.0898.net/n/2015/0104/c231198-23429951.html (Accessed January 5, 2015).
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