I assume tomorrow is going to be a crazy wedding news day with lots of rings (wedding) and rings (Olympic) intertwined in some bizarre ways....
Lucky number inspired China to start Olympics at 8:08 p.m., 8/8/08
As the world turns its gaze to Beijing for Friday's opening ceremony of the Olympic Games - set to begin on 8/8/08 at 8:08 p.m. - a record throng of 9,000 Chinese couples also will be lining up to get married. It's no coincidence that the world's athletes will be marching into the Olympic stadium at the same time that history's biggest bridal registry becomes the great wall of wedding china.
It's all about the power of 8.
The number is viewed as so "auspicious" among many Asian cultures, and has become so entwined in native superstitions, that Friday's collision of those figure-8/8/8s is expected to reverberate all the way from Shanghai to Silicon Valley.
A simple twist of fate is what makes eight great: In China, the number is pronounced "ba," which closely resembles the word for prosperity (fa) . Brides like the wedding date because, turned on its side, 8 forms the symbol for infinity. (Grooms just like an anniversary date they can actually remember.)
Las Vegas, the one-stop-shopping mecca for all of life's big gambles, was bracing for a run on both its casinos and its wedding chapels Friday. "We're only guessing what 8/8/08 is going to bring," Shirley Parraguirre, the Vegas county clerk, said nervously this week. She was doubling down on staff to handle the crush, and implementing a system of express lines based on pioneering work by the Zen masters of crowd control at Disneyland.
She was hoping to avoid a repeat of 7/7/07, when a crowd of wedding license applicants stood in line for as long as five hours in 110-degree heat. "It was horrendous, just unbelievable," Parraguirre said. "There was a pregnant lady all decked out in a wedding dress who fainted in line." Friday's forecast high on the Vegas Strip is 105, with temperatures - and overdressed brides - falling by sundown.
There were no unwed mothers swooning at Elegant Lace Bridal in San Jose this week, but wedding dresses were flying out the door at a rate nearly double any other weekend this summer, according to owner Laura Finkelstein.
"The Asian culture definitely is more attuned to astrology, numerology and the good luck thing than Western culture," she said. That didn't stop "the same kind of crazy thing" from happening on 7/7/07 - a number embraced by Westerners for its lucky charms. "I hope this isn't going to become a recurring national craze," Finkelstein grumbled, "and that next year we have to go through this again on 9/9/09."
Among the qualities that made 8/8/08 so attractive to Chinese Olympic officials is the numeral's perfect symmetry: it's the only number that can be sliced in half, horizontally or vertically, with each half mirroring the other.
Chinese numerology is itself a hall of mirrors, in which other numerals do not fare as well as the Great 8.
When an American company designed a small park for a Chinese city recently, the original dimensions had to be changed from .4 square kilometers to .39. In China, four is a bad number.
Everywhere you looked this week, somebody was trying to cash in on the crazy eights. The California Lottery was doing a brisk business in Super 888 scratch-off cards, while River Rock Casino and Cache Creek Casino Resort both have promotional drawings Friday with $8,888 jackpots.
"For Chinese, the lucky number eight represents getting rich, like 7-7-7 in America," said Philip Chau, director of "Asian development" at Cache Creek, which draws heavily on an Asian-American customer base. "Even the license plate on my car has 8-8-8. In Hong Kong, if your house number has 8-8-8 in it, you can sell it for more money."
Realtors in the San Jose area routinely advise clients to price houses so the final three digits are 888. "If they don't feel the chi is right, they won't buy it," said Michael McGuire of Western Property Group. Contractors even take note of the number of stairs they put in a house located in markets with lots of potential Asian buyers.
At Cupertino Properties, based in a city that is about 44 percent Asian descent, owner John Dozier is always on the lookout for houses with an 8 in the address. "If you've got an address with sixes and eights - six also being an auspicious number - they're very likely to embrace the property," said Dozier, whose company Web site has a feng shui page. "A lot of the young people I see are highly educated, and quite successful in technical fields, and yet it seems very important to them."
The city used to allow address changes so that prospective buyers could pick their own numbers, but finally had to crack down on the practice when block after block became a crazy quilt of 8s. "I had people who said if they could get the number changed, they would purchase the property," Dozier said. "And they did."
Eight is the only number that looks huggable, which may explain why so many cultures embrace it. In Judaism, the eighth day of a boy's life is when he enters into a covenant with God and the Jewish people by having his foreskin removed. The bris is a sacred ritual, but it could also be the reason you won't see a lot of Jewish men rushing out to get married Friday.
There's even some question how lucky the number 8 is these days in China. Following the massive earthquake on 5/12, the numerologically inclined added 5+1+2, came up with 8, and declared that the Olympics were headed for disaster.
Well, there's always the Games of 8/8/88.
Really can't wait to see what some of those weddings and photos turn out to be...
Whats your favorite part of this whole thing? For me, it has to be the ease of anniversary memory.