China’s couples throng to marry on day of three eights

August 9th, 2008 - 9:29 am ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 9 (Xinhua) The joy was written all over the faces of Sun Zhengbiao and Xue Jiaojiao after they tied the knot Friday morning, the day of the auspicious three eights. “We decided to get married on Aug 8 last year,” said Xue, a secondary school teacher. “It is such a lucky number and it’s only once in a lifetime.”

Chinese people are keen to tie the knot on an auspicious date. The number eight symbolises wealth, fortune and luck. Many people choose dates with the number to start a business, get married or give birth. People also pay extra to have it in their phone numbers or car licence plates.

This year, Aug 8 was also the opening date of the Olympic Games in Beijing, giving it an added cachet.

Xue, who is also a volunteer for the Olympic Games, will patrol her neighbourhood Friday night for security.

“I will probably miss some part of the opening ceremony, but it’s okay. I can watch the recast tomorrow.”

Outside the registry office in Chaoyang district, love was in the air. Pink ribbons with balloons decorated the gate. Red banners congratulating newly-weds were put up on the wall for this special occasion. Dozens of couples queued to get their marriage certificates.

The office opened for business at midnight, said He Tieqing, spokesman for the district’s Civil Affairs Bureau. “We were preparing our work and a couple came in, so we registered them,” He said.

Large groups started coming to the office at 6 a.m., two and a half hours earlier than usual.

“We chose this date because it’s the opening of the Olympics. It’s very memorable,” said bride Tang Guinan. “We decided to marry on this day in 2003, when we were still in college. We were so happy when Beijing won the bid to host the Olympics in 2001.”

So many couples were planning to tie the knot on Aug 8 that Beijing’s marriage registries set up an on-line service to file paperwork in advance and speed up the process.

More than 16,400 couples booked their marriage certificates on Aug 8 in Beijing, according to the Beijing Civil Affairs Office. Last year, 3,390 couples were married in Beijing on this date, making it the second most popular date after Dec 18 when 4,400 couples tied the knot.

Around the country, thousands of people were getting married Friday; more than 5,000 couples registered in Shanghai, 3,300 in Guangzhou, 2,300 in Wuhan and 2,300 in Hangzhou, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said.

Jiang Li, Vice Minister of Civil Affairs, said civil affairs bureaus should try to guarantee that all couples who wish to register on Aug 8 get their certificates.

About 300 extra staff were mobilised to help the 18 marriage registration staff at Chaoyang’s civil affairs bureau, where 2,418 booked registration, He Tieqing said.

“It took only three minutes to register,” said Tang Guinan. “The clerk checked our forms, gave us the certificates and congratulated us.”

“We will continue to work after the normal closing time of 6 p.m. if there are still couples to register,” He said. “We will definitely make sure that every couple today will be registered.”

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