Valentine's Day proved to be a popular day for Shanghai couples to say "I do."
A young couple walk past a jewelry store yesterday on Nanjing Road. More than 2,600 couples applied for a marriage certificate on Saturday.
A record 2,662 couples got married at the city's 20 marriage registration branches on Saturday, said the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.
The figure was more than three times the daily average of around 800 marriage applications. It was also about 30 percent more than that on last year's Valentine's Day.
"Young people nowadays are more likely to pick fashionable Western festivals, especially Valentine's, to tie the knot," said Zhou Jixiang, director of the bureau's marriage-management division. "That always means a super busy day for us."
At the bureau's Pudong New Area branch, about 60 couples had lined up outside the office before it opened at 8:30am. Officials had to cancel their normal lunch break to handle the extra marriage applications, said Cai Linyuan, the bureau's Pudong branch chief.
Staff at the bureau's Xuhui District branch said they prepared 100 roses as gifts for newly married couples. All the flowers had been given away before 11am.
"The earliest love birds came at 7am, so we felt obliged to open an hour early," said the Xuhui branch chief.
Chinese people often pick days with an auspicious number such as eight or nine - which shares the same pronunciation as "forever" in Chinese - for marriage registration or ceremonies.
The bureau said more than 17,000 couples have been married so far this year.
(Shanghai Daily February 1, 2009)