IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Beijing couples rush to wed on this lucky day

Zhao Gang and Liu Rui were thrilled upon receiving their marriage certificate on Aug. 8, 2008: China's auspicious triple-eight date. At least 16,400 couples have followed in their footsteps, hoping to tie the knot at 8:08 a.m.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Zhao Gang and Liu Rui shone with happiness Friday upon receiving their marriage certificate on China's auspicious triple-eight date, just hours before the opening of the Olympic Games.

“We cannot think of a better day to celebrate the beginning of a happy new family and the happiest moment for our country — these two things should go hand in hand,” said Zhao, 30, grinning as he hugged his new wife.

Once China was awarded the Olympics, Beijing organizers chose 08-08-08 as the day for the games to begin as many Chinese believe the date is particularly lucky.

Zhao, an accountant, and his 29-year-old bride, Liu, who works at an international trading firm, decided early last year to get married on the special date.

For locals, the number eight, "ba," rhymes with the word "fa," which means prosperity and wealth. Chinese favor the number for marriage dates, giving birth, a home address and telephone numbers. The opening ceremonies begin at 8:08 p.m. on 08-08-08.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Zhao, who had initially planned to tie the knot at 8:08 a.m., but had to settle for an afternoon slot.

State media reported that 16,400 couples registered for marriage certificates in Beijing on Friday, nearly four times as many as on the same date in 2007. Offices provided online forms and began processing wedding certificates at midnight on Thursday to meet the increased demand.

Among the dozens of beaming couples who gathered at the Chaoyang District registry office in eastern Beijing, Liu Xianwu, 35, and his wife Shang Yan, 28, stood out in their matching blue T-shirts with cartoon faces. They gathered with friends outside to take photos in front of a backdrop of red-and-gold banners and balloons.

Chinese couples traditionally obtain marriage certificates at their district registry office prior to holding a lavish wedding ceremony and banquet with family and friends.

"We will always choose a lucky date for important events, such as giving birth in the year of the pig or getting married or starting a new business venture on a prosperous date," said Shang, a Beijing engineer. "If it weren't for today, we would have chosen Valentine's Day to get married."

Some Chinese have noted, however, that No. 8 actually seems to be bringing some seriously bad luck this year.

The worst snow storms in half a century, which blanketed much of southern China and ruined the Chinese New Year's holiday for hundreds of thousands of families, struck on 1-25. The numbers added together: 1 plus 2 plus 5 equals 8.

Riots in Tibet that ended in a violent crackdown and global criticism of Beijing's communist government, broke out on 3-14: 3 plus 1 plus 4 equals 8.

The earthquake that hit Sichuan province and claimed nearly 70,000 lives hit on 5-12: 5 plus 1 plus 2 equals 8. And Friday marked 88 days since the May 12 earthquake.

“Chinese people always believe in the lucky number eight, but there have also been many tragedies in 2008," said Wang Lichun, a shop owner who works near the registry office. "I wish good luck to China for the remainder of 2008 — because fate is something that we cannot escape.”