HEFEI: Lovers in China are rushing to get married in the Lunar Year of the Dog because it's considered an auspicious year for weddings.
A community service centre in Luyang District of this capital of Anhui Province has averaged more than 20 couples a day registering for marriage since the calendar year began. A centre official said that number is twice the daily average during the past 10 months.
"They are all preparing for weddings in the Year of the Dog," he said.
And there will be more "dog days" for couples to marry. In the Year of the Dog, which will start from January 29, the lunar cycle will last 385 days until February 17, 2007 a phenomenon that occurs only 12 times between 221 BC and 2100. The last 385-day lunar year was 1944.
According to the lunar calendar, this Year of the Dog has 13 months. The extra month, called an intercalary month, is being inserted between the seventh and eighth lunar months to catch up with the solar calendar since a lunar cycle lasts about 29.5 days.
The year also has two lichun, or beginnings of spring, on February 4 of 2006 and 2007.
"People believe a year with two beginnings of spring and an intercalary month is a golden time to tie the knot," said Fei Guangze, general manager of the Suren Wedding Service Co in Hefei.
"As the Chinese proverb goes, double beginnings of spring and 13 months make a perfect year for weddings."
Fei's company provides services ranging from wedding gowns, fancy photo albums and bridal make-ups to luxuriant wedding fleets and hosts of ceremonies. "We're already fully booked with weddings in February, March, May and October," he said. "Some couples made reservations a year in advance."
Many other cities have also reported soaring marriage registrations.
In fact, many couples have been waiting for the Year of the Rooster to pass before getting married. You might say the couples chickened out.
The past year was also called a "widow year" because it does not have lichun.
"Although the belief is ridiculous, the fact that people try to avoid it reflects a strong desire for a happy marriage," said Zhang Youde, a sociologist at Shanghai University.
A similar marriage rush was reported in January 2005, in the last days of the Year of the Monkey before the Year of the Rooster began on February 9.
About 10 million Chinese couples get married each year.
Source: China Daily