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Page last updated at 11:07 GMT, Wednesday, 9 September 2009 12:07 UK

China rush on 'lucky' wedding day

Chinese couple in front of Tiananmen Gate, Beijing, taking wedding pictures - 8 September 2009
In Chinese, the words "nine, nine" sound the same as those for longevity

Thousands of people across China are getting married, believing that the date of 9 September 2009 will guarantee a long and happy union.

The date "nine, nine" sounds like the saying "jiu,jiu" in Chinese, which can be translated as "long lasting".

The fact it is also 2009 has made the day even luckier for many Chinese, the state-run China Daily newspaper says.

On 8 August last year there was a rush on weddings in China, as the number eight sounds like the word for wealth.

More than 10,000 couples are set to register their marriages at civil affairs departments in Beijing, Chinese media have reported.

A further 6,000 are expected to tie-the-knot in Shanghai, with the same number again seeking marriage certificates in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou.

Other large cities recorded at least 2,000 couples who have registered an interest in getting married, the report adds.

Record-breaking

Officials were expecting even more couples to crowd marriage offices on Wednesday than those who had already registered.

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Thousands joined queues early in the morning

In Shanghai, officials have placed no maximum on the number of people allowed to get married, opening the possibility for a record number of weddings on one single day.

"We have deployed more staff to ensure smooth operations at registration sites," said Zhou Jixiang, the head of Shanghai's Civil Affairs Bureau.

In Beijing, the marriage reservation system has notched up a gear: "Normally it takes 10 minutes to handle the whole procedure, but we have set-up this reservation system, so now it takes only three minutes.", said marriage official Zhang Weiwei.

On 8 August 2008 - the day the Beijing Olympics began - there was a huge rush on marriages in China.

Traditionally the number eight is considered to be lucky because it also sounds like the world for "wealth" in Chinese.

On that day more than 7,000 couples exchanged vows in Shanghai, with more than 3,000 in Beijing.

Officials say they are braced for more mass weddings during the Chinese New Year on 26 January and 10 October next year - or 10/10/2010 - is also expected to be very popular.



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