Asia marks lucky 12/12/12 with mass weddings
Hong Kong - Thousands of couples in Asia flocked Wednesday to tie the knot on 12/12/12, seeking good fortune for marriages begun on the century's last repeating date.
Authorities in Hong Kong and Singapore respectively said 696 and 540 couples were scheduled to attend marriage registries, continuing a trend which has seen couples flocking to marry on 11/11/11 and 10/10/10 in both cities.
The figure is a near-fourfold increase compared to the daily average in the self-governing Chinese city of Hong Kong, and about an eightfold spike for non-Muslim weddings in Singapore, which is three-quarters ethnic Chinese.
Couples also queued to marry in many mainland Chinese cities, on the basis that 12/12/12 sounded like "Will love/will love/will love" in Chinese, the official news agency Xinhua reported.
In several Indonesian cities, mothers gave birth early by Caesarian section so their offspring could have a lucky birthdate.
At one of Hong Kong's five marriage registries, hundreds of people crowded the premises to take photos of brides and grooms in full wedding regalia as they congratulated the newlyweds.
"Today's date is very special and we can get married before doomsday as well," joked 34-year-old groom Raymond Ip.
Some doomsayers believe December 21 will be the date the world ends.
"There won't be a 13/13/13," Ip said, adding that he had booked the day half-a-year in advance to secure a spot.
Groom Terance Fung, 29, agreed. "Today is the last day of the century with the same date numbers, so it is quite special," he said.
In Singapore hundreds of couples and family members trooped in batches to the marriage registry despite pouring rain.
One couple in India were able to celebrate an even rarer set of special dates, having got engaged on 10/10/10, held their registered legal marriage on 11/11/11 and finally had a big white wedding in Mumbai on 12/12/12.
The triple twelves, however, was a less popular day to tie the knot than previous sequential dates.
Hong Kong saw 1,002 weddings on November 11, 2011, which signified "Eternal love", and 859 weddings on October 10, 2010 which represented "Perfection".
Singapore had 553 and 724 marriages respectively on the same dates. The all-time high for a single day there was on February 14, 1995, when 1,082 couples were married because the western and Chinese Valentine's Day coincided.
Extra staff were deployed at the marriage registry at Changchun, in China's northeastern province of Jilin, where 2,000 couples were expected.
But the office director Wang Zhe played down the significance of so-called lucky dates.
"Every day is a lucky day to get married and it will be the most unforgettable day of their lives," Wang was quoted as saying.
The Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur saw 289 couples taking part in a mass wedding at the Thean Hou Chinese Temple.
The National Registration Department said another 306 couples were married at two of its offices near the capital, three times the normal number.
At Yogyakarta in Indonesia's Central Java province 12 male sugar cane workers paraded around town in 12 traditional wagons with their brides to mark the day.
Expecting mothers meanwhile headed to hospitals in the country's main cities to undergo Caesarian sections, hoping a 12/12/12 birthdate would bring luck to their offspring.
Twelve women, some of Chinese descent, were booked in for C-sections weeks in advance at the Bunda private hospital in Jakarta, spokesman Samuel Robert told AFP.
"They said they wanted to give birth today because they consider the date unique and special. As long as the women and their babies are healthy, we are happy to accommodate," he said. - Aaron Tam, Agence France-Presse