Couples are lining up to tie the knot in China today. By some estimates, some 10,000 lovebirds were planning to get married in Beijing. That’s because the Mandarin for “January 4, 2013″ sounds similar to “I will love you all my life.” Well, that’s the story anyway. We hear more from The World’s Beijing correspondent Mary Kay Magistad.
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Marco Werman: It’s a good day for a wedding in China, a white wedding, any kind of wedding. In fact, this Shanghai wedding registrar says business is booming.
Wedding Registrar: [speaking Mandarin Chinese]
Werman: She says 258 couples have already registered today and they’re expecting the number to double. On a normal day they get about 30-40 requests. They’re so busy that some couples have had to double up on their vows.
Wedding Couple: [speaking Mandarin Chinese]
Werman: Those are vows in harmony. So why the big demand? The World’s Beijing correspondent Mary Kay Magistad is here in Boston. So, Mary Kay, tell us what’s going on here.
Mary Kay Magistad: Okay, so you now how when you’re sending text messages on your phone and there are abbreviations, like LOL, L-O-L means laugh out loud. In Chinese, there are abbreviations in numbers, so for instance there’s the one 520-1314, which sounds like a phone number, right? But it actually, if you say it, [speaking Mandarin Chinese], it sounds like [speaking Mandarin Chinese], which means I will love you forever. So if you take the 5 off, which is [speaking Mandarin Chinese], you’re left with 20-13-14, which in the way that the Chinese do dates, is 2013, 1 for January, 4 for the date, so everyone though great, let’s get married today.
Werman: And do they follow our calendar in China?
Magistad: Yeah, they follow our calendar. They also have their own lunar new year celebration, which this year will be in February. But generally, they do follow the international calendar.
Werman: So has this ever happened before?
Magistad: Not quite this, but there are other dates that people like to celebrate. For instance, on Dec. 12, 2012 there was a spike in marriages and the same thing happened on Nov. 11, 2011. On 11-11, that’s considered singles day in China because there are four 1s, right? So one person started this and now it’s become this great day to get together with other singles and spend money on yourself. And it actually helps the economy out because there’s a little spike in spending on that day.
Werman: So why these dates seem to have so much significance in China? I know Chinese love numbers and I remember there were some cellphone numbers that were going for really high value on eBay a while ago. People were spending lots of money on them, so what’s going on there?
Magistad: Yeah, just a real respect for and interest in numerology, so for instance, the number 8 is considered to be lucky because [speaking Chinese] sounds like how you say fortune in Chinese.
Werman: And [speaking Chinese] is 8.
Magistad: [speaking Chinese] is 8. So, of course, the Beijing Olympics started on 8-8-2008. The number 4, [speaking Chinese] in Chinese, can also mean death, so it’s interesting that in this case, even though it was January 4, you’d think that might be unlucky for a marriage, that they just kind of decided to finesse it and say okay, well we’re not really talking about the sound for death, we’re talking about this part of the phrase that means forever, optimists basically.
Werman: Yeah. What about you, Mary Kay? Do you have any good kind of personal numerology stories, like does your birthdate mean anything important or significant in China?
Magistad: Well, I was born in August, so there’s an 8 right there. That’s at least something going for me.
Werman: That’s a great start.
Magistad: I mean I don’t think there’s anything else that I can fall back on really.
Werman: The World’s Mary Kay Magistad, thanks so much.
Magistad: Thank you, Marco.
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