A couple wave on tricycle during their wedding ceremony, to promot the environment-friendly and economical wedding, in Huai'an, east China's Jiangsu Province, Aug. 8, 2008, the opening day of the Beijing Olympic Games. (Xinhua/ Xu Changzheng)
Here's one Olympics competition where China definitely set a record: at least 314,224 couples tied the knot across the nation on Friday, or 08/08/08, the opening day of the 29th Olympic Games, official statistics showed.
As expected, that was a one-day record for marriages since 1949, when the People's Republic of China was founded, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said on Saturday.
Although there's no previous national figure available, so many cities set records that the countrywide tally is considered to be the record. In Beijing alone, the host city of the Olympics, 15,646 couples were married, 23 times the daily average.
The previous one-day record for marriages in the capital was 4,452 on Dec. 18, 2006, which had one eight in it by the Western calendar. Under the lunar calendar, it was Oct. 28, which had two eights.
On Aug. 8 last year, 3,390 couples were married in Beijing, making it the second most popular date after Dec. 18.
Major Chinese cities saw a surge of applications to wed on Friday, either for the triple-eight symbolism or to catch an "Olympic wedding".
The number eight symbolizes wealth, fortune and luck for Chinese. Many choose dates with the number to start a business, marry, deliver babies or undertake some other significant step. People also pay extra to have it in phone numbers or vehicle license plates.
Local civil affairs authorities said that 6,418 couples were married in Shanghai on Friday and 4,841 in Wuhan. Figures for other cities were not immediately available.
The ministry held a special meeting on Tuesday asking local authorities to increase staff, use volunteers, work longer hours and open more offices to cope with the surge.
Some registration offices in Beijing and Tianjin worked around the clock to meet demand.
The Chaoyang District office in eastern Beijing registered a couple shortly after it opened for business at midnight. Source: Xinhua