May 20 is a day for making grand declarations of love in Chinese culture, and Richmond businesses are happy to cash in on the sweet sentiment.
520 stands for “I love you” because, in Mandarin, the pronunciation is similar. The expression is now one of the most iconic phrases in Chinese internet slang.
The phrase was popularized through the pop song “Digital Love” by singer Mavis Fan and was widely used as a declaration of love during the ’90s when pagers (which send messages using numbers) were common.
Like Valentine’s Day in Western culture, 520 has evolved into a bustling business opportunity.
A fresh flower shop at the Richmond Night Market is offering a special promotion for 520 bouquets, and patrons of the T&T Supermarket in Yaohan Centre can snag a free rose with some purchases of boxes of strawberries.
For those who are single, fear not. The hotpot chain Liuyishou Hotpot is holding a Meet & Date event at its Richmond location, which will allow hopeful singles to mingle over cocktails, hotpot, and games for $68/person.
Nowadays, May 21 is also considered an extension of the celebration of love because 521 also sounds like 520 and “I love you” in Mandarin.
Apart from 520, Chinese-speaking communities also celebrate another Chinese Valentine's Day -- the Qixi Festival.
This traditional Chinese Valentine's Day falls on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, the one day of the year when Niulang (the cowherd) and Zhinü (the weaver girl) get to reunite over a magpie bridge. According to the folktale, the pair was banished to opposite sides of the Milky Way due to their forbidden love.