Tens of thousands of couples flocked to marriage registries across the mainland and in Hong Kong yesterday to marry on what was seen as an auspicious day, offering blessings for lifelong love.
A numerical form of yesterday's date - 2013/1/4 - roughly sounds like "I love you for my whole life" in Putonghua.
Liu Dongmei , a 25-year-old office worker who registered her marriage at the Chaoyang district marriage registry in Beijing, said that when she and her fiancé first went to the office to get acquainted with its location at lunchtime on Thursday, there were already more than 200 couples queuing outside.
They returned there with a friend and took turns to queue from around 10pm on Thursday. The registry opened at midnight and they were issued with their marriage certificates just before 1am.
"It was very cold but it was worth all the effort because we could get married on such an auspicious day," Liu said. They plan to hold their wedding banquet early next year.
The official marriage registration statistics will take days to emerge, but the Beijing Morning Post, citing the Beijing Civil Affairs Bureau, which administers marriage registries in the capital, reported on Thursday that the bureau had received 7,000 online reservations. It had estimated that at least 10,000 couples would get married yesterday.
That would fall short of the Beijing record of 19,000 registrations on September 9, 2009 - a day "for long-lasting love" - and the 15,000 on August 8, 2008, which had three auspicious number eights for prosperity.
Similar rushes were seen across the mainland yesterday. Qiao Xuefeng , a 25-year-old who works for a state-owned enterprise in the Liaoning city of Lingyuan , said that by the time he and his fiancée arrived at the marriage registry at 8am yesterday, there was already a long queue.
"We know it takes more than an auspicious day to have a long-lasting relationship," Qiao said. "But I can't see any downside to having it registered on such an auspicious day."
In Hong Kong, the registrar of marriages said there had been 558 applications for marriages to be registered yesterday but the actual number of registrations could be smaller.
Additional reporting by Stephy Shi