Thousands of Chinese wed to mark Wednesday's special date 09/09/09

Thousands of Chinese wed to mark Wednesday's special date 09/09/09

A couple, among tens of thousands of Chinese couples who got married on Sep 9 '09 show their marriage certificates at a marriage register office in Guangzhou, in south China's Guangdong province. AP

In Mandarin Chinese, the number "9" is pronounced the same as the word "jiu" which means "forever, perpetual or eternal". In Beijing alone, 18,979 couples stood in long queues to register for marriage Wednesday, setting a one-day record in six decades. The figure was many times the daily average and exceeded the previous record of 15,646 seen Aug 8, 2008, a "triple 8 day" when the 29th Olympic Games opened in Beijing.

At the marriage register office in the city's Chaoyang district, clerks began working and issuing marriage certificates after midnight Tuesday to cope with the surge of marriage applications.

Similar scenes were also seen in many other cities as well. In the southern metropolis of Guangzhou, more than 6,000 couples applied to the city's 24 marriage register offices, and the figure was about 3,000 for the eastern city of Nanjing, according to local authorities.

In some cities, many couples and their families had to queue outside the marriage register offices from Tuesday afternoon. Authorities in different cities had to increase staff, work long hours and open more offices to cope.

"What a good day it is! We are very lucky that we got married today. The auspicious number stands for our eternal love," said a young man Zhang Peng with his girlfriend at a register office in Gaoxin district in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

"We came here yesterday (Tuesday) to see the location of the register office, hoping to get the certificate sooner today (Wednesday)," he said.  Huang Shan, a clerk, said at least 140 couples were in a queue within an hour of the opening of the office at 7 a.m.

In the eastern city of Qingdao, a total of 3,086 couples obtained their marriage certificates Wednesday. The figure was 16 times that of the daily average.
China saw a peak of marriage registrations and weddings Aug 8, 2008. Tens of thousands of couples across the nation chose the "triple 8 day," or 08/08/08, to tie the knot, as "8" is also an auspicious number among Chinese that is believed to bring wealth, fortune and luck for people.

The northwestern city of Urumqi that is still recovering from a riot in July also witnessed a surge of marriage registrations Wednesday. "I specially asked for leave to come here for marriage registration," said a 27-year-old woman of the Uygur ethnic group.

As the lucky days of 08/08/08 and 09/09/09 have passed, many young people began to eye 10/10/10, which means perfection in everything, and 11/11/11, which means wholeheartedness. But sociologists have warned young people against blindly following the trend, as "rushed marriages" have led to "rushed divorces" in some cities.

"An auspicious date cannot guarantee an eternal marriage," said Hu Guangwei, deputy director of the Social Studies Institute of the Sichuan Provincial Academy of Social Sciences. "Lucky number day is mainly a psychological comfort, and couples better not simply follow suit to get married in a rush without truly knowing each other," he said.  

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