October 11, 2010

CHINA: Couples count on the power of '10'

SHANGHAI, China / Shanghai Daily / Metro / October 11, 2010

By Lu Feiran

YESTERDAY seemed to be the best day ever for tying the knot.

As "10-10-10" symbolizes "perfection in everything" for Chinese people, the date proved irresistible to those who wanted to start married life in the luckiest possible way.

As a result, 10,150 couples said "I do" at the city's marriage registration offices yesterday, the most on a single day since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, said the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau yesterday.

Couples are married in front of the China Pavilion at the Expo yesterday, 10-10-10, which means "perfect in everything" for Chinese.

That figure was 1,300 more than the number of people who got married on the previous record-setting day, September 9, 2009. Nine, or jiu in Chinese, sounds like the word for "forever."

On August 8, 2008, almost 8,000 couples tied the knot, as eight - ba in Chinese - is pronounced the same as "making a fortune."

"It's awesome!" gasped Zhang Yuan, a passer-by on Changyang Road, Yangpu District, who witnessed new couples lining up all the way up the road for a marriage certificate yesterday morning.

"The first couple came here at 4am," said Wang Haiyan, an official with the Yangpu marriage registration office. "The queue became very long at 6am and we opened the doors at 7am."

Some couples ate breakfast as they waited in line for their certificates.

New couples had their own thoughts on the auspicious day. "I believe 10-10-10 is better than 9-9-9 and 8-8-8," said Jia Li, a bride who managed to get a reservation number in Yangpu. "Nothing is better than 'perfection in everything.'"

Couples who made online or in-person reservations at the offices received certificates within five minutes, but those without a reservation had to wait for two to three hours.

Wang said 680 couples made reservations for yesterday - more than the office usually sees in a month. "But after going through 08-08-08 and 09-09-09, we are experienced on dealing with such situations," she said.

In Xuhui District, the office opened one hour earlier than usual yesterday and arranged for volunteers to assist the couples. "We came to work at 5am," said a volunteer surnamed Cui.

Usually marriage registration offices are closed on Sundays, but opened yesterday as it was a special date, said the civil affairs bureau. Office employees worked overnight to prepare certificates for the new couples.

Staff are expecting another rush next year, on November 11, as people believe that 11-11-11 symbolizes "wholeheartedness."

Besides, as November 11 is also regarded as Singles Day, people would think it significant to say goodbye to bachelor life on that day.

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