Lucky '999' day sees tens of thousands Chinese wed

BEIJING: Tens of thousands of Chinese couples rushed to tie the knot across the nation Wednesday, or 09/09/09, hoping that the "triple 9 day" will bring them good luck and eternal love.

In Mandarin, the number "9" is pronounced the same as the word "jiu" that means "forever, perpetual or eternal."

Major cities have seen a surge of applications to wed Wednesday. In the southern metropolis of Guangzhou alone, more than 6,000 couples have 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 civil affairs authorities.

"The figure 6,106 sets a one-day record for marriages since 1949, when the People's Republic of China was founded," said Li Zhizhen, director of Guangzhou Municipal Civil Affairs Bureau.

"The final figure of the marriage certificates issued today is likely to be more than that," he said.

In some cities, many couples and their families had to queue up outside the marriage register offices from Tuesday afternoon on. Civil affairs authorities in different cities had to increase staff, work longer hours and open more offices to cope.

"What a good day it is! We are very lucky that we get 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 to see about the route and location of the register office, hoping to get the certificate sooner today," he said.

A clerk Huang Shan at the office said at least 140 couples had been waiting in a long queue within an hour of the office opening at 7 am.

"There are too many couples coming here today, and the one-hour figure has exceeded that of the whole day of the 'Olympic opening day' last year," she said.

"But we will ensure all of them can get their marriage certificates today," she added.

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 and surpassed that of 2,973 recorded on the "Olympic opening day" last year, statistics with the Qingdao Municipal Civil Affairs Bureau show.

China saw a peak of marriage registrations and weddings on August 8, 2008 when the 29th Olympic Games opened in Beijing. 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 be able to bring wealth, fortune and luck for people.

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