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Stampede to wed on Olympic opening day? why not!
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Chinese couples who wish to get hitched on the opening day of the Beijing Olympic Games may eventually make it, if they apply in advance, a Beijing civil affairs official said.


Guo Xusheng, spokesman with the Beijing Municipal Civil Affairs Bureau, refuted rumors that marriage registration offices of the bureau would close on August 8.


People have been speculating whether the working population in Beijing, government employees included, will enjoy some days off during the Olympics to watch the games and to ease the burden on Beijing's congested roads.


"Couples are free to tie the knot on any weekday, so why not on August 8?" he said in Beijing on Saturday.


The Chinese traditionally love "eight" (ba) because it sounds like the word for wealth and fortune (fa).


August 8 is a Friday this year.


Many young couples choose this date to tie the knot, hoping some of the auspicious "eighth of the eighth" luck would rub off on them.


Last year, 3,390 couples got hitched on the lucky date, exactly a year before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Some of them had to wait outside the marriage registration office for a whole night.


"We've long been prepared for a stampede of newly-wed couples this year," said Guo. "So we do advise couples to make online reservations in advance."


The civil affairs bureau opened a website last year to accept online reservations for marriage registration. It allows applicants to choose a certain day and a certain time range to wed.


Many Beijing hotels and restaurants are also preparing to share in the festivity: many offered set menus for wedding receptions priced at 2,008 yuan (US$280) for a table of 10.


(Xinhua News Agency January 27, 2008)

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