Cultural expectations for the Chinese New Year almost demand that Twenty-something singles in China arrive at family gatherings with a date.
That has created a new business in China: renting a date to bring to these gatherings.
Chinese websites provide lists of people a relationship-challenged person might rent for a few hours or days. Offline matchmaking agencies provide the same service. Chinese social media is used to help singles find someone to accompany them to New Years functions.
What is the key demographic information dateless people are looking for in a rent-a-date? At the top of the list is the person's height, academic qualifications, marital status, and their horoscope.
Costs for a date
Prices start at $145-218 per day, and the terms sometimes include additional cover for travel and other costs. Some services charge up to $2000 per date.
"Forced matchmaking and boyfriends-for-rent isn't novel during Spring Festival anymore,” says IlikeDuanYiShan. “Last year, I was asked [by my parents] to marry someone two days before Lunar New Year. I left home immediately. I spent that day crying in the hotel, and I've not come home for a year since. I know my mother misses me. I don't know how I can go home — I really miss family, but I'm really fearful as to what they might do. I hope they understand."