What’s up with 520?

Today is May 20th.


You may wonder what the significance of this is. Well, unless you are Chinese, probably very little. But some numbers take on added significance in China. Certain digits, or combinations of digits, are steeped in history, while others have been hijacked and utilised by the time-conscious and trendy younger generation who can’t even be bothered to type words into their phones any more.

A good example of this is the way some people sign off with 88, instead of saying bye bye, because the pronunciation of 8 in Chinese (ba) sounds almost identical. So 88 = ba ba = bye bye.

Get it?

Similarly, 520 has become an abbreviation for ‘I love you,’ because the pronunciation in Mandarin of the three numbers (wu er ling) sounds a lot like the words for ‘I love you’ (wo ai ni).

These days, saying 520 is how the cool kids express their love for each other, and is a lot quicker and easier than spelling it out. In time, 520 became linked to the date, May 20th which in turn morphed into a kind of unofficial Chinese Valentine’s Day.

So… happy 520!

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