520 marriages in China

“What do you think of the number of people getting married during May 20th falling off a cliff?”: Trending hashtag on Chinese social media

Due to the resemblance of the pronunciation of “520 (wǔ èr líng) or 521 (wǔ èr yī)” and “我爱你, wǒ ài nǐ”, which directly translates to “I love you” in English. It has become a growing trend for people in China to use the date May 20th as an unofficial Valentine’s day. As such, it is also a popular date to register marriage. Many young people may choose to celebrate this day to express their affection for loved ones. However, the number of couples actually getting married on May 20th has declined in many provinces across China. There was a decrease of 40% in Guangdong and 74% in Hunan, compared to the previous year.

A reflection of China’s decreasing marriage rate

The drastic decline in the number of marriage registrations on May 20th is a reflection of China’s decreasing marriage rate over the past few years. This stirred conversation on Chinese social media Weibo. The hashtag of #What do you think of the number of people getting married during May 20th falling off a cliff# (如何看待520结婚人数断崖式下跌) was viewed over 24 million times in two days. Lifeweek (三联生活周刊) conducted a survey on the matter since April 20th. 51% of the respondents believed it was normal that more young people don’t want to get married. Meanwhile, 27% of the respondents considered it important to explore the underlying reasons why young people are increasingly reluctant to get married. 

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she economy in china

Marriage in the modern era: beyond rushing and towards individuality

“Try to lift the divorce cooling-off period.” A netizen from Guangdong said. “The era of rushing to get married after reaching marriageable age has passed. The concept of marriage among young people has become more and more about independence and diversity. Besides, the bar of a high-quality marriage has been raised higher and higher.” Another netizen from Guangdong commented in response to falling marriage rates.

From romance to reality: the divergence of celebrations and marriage registration on May 20th

  • The resemblance in pronunciation between “520” and “我爱你” has led to the growing trend of using May 20th as an unofficial Valentine’s Day. It is also a popular date for marriage registration in China.
  • Despite the popularity of celebrating affection on May 20th, the actual number of couples getting married on this date has declined significantly.
  • Chinese social media discussions on the falling marriage rates have revealed varied opinions. Some considering it normal for young people to be less interested in marriage. Meanwhile, others emphasize the importance of understanding the underlying reasons for this trend.