The number eight is considered so lucky that weddings on Friday, Aug. 8 – 8/8/08 – are in high demand. Minutes after the city clerk’s office in San Francisco started taking reservations, the date was booked.
“There were people camping out on our reservation system, waiting for the clock to hit midnight,” said Karen Hong Yee, the director of the office, which takes reservations up to 90 days in advance. “We tripled our current capacity and are doing 128 weddings that day.
“Sometimes New Year’s Eve gets popular, and Valentine’s Day is always big, but we haven’t seen this much of a demand in a while.”
Suzanne Tran and her fiance, Conan Tong, chose the day for a number of reasons.
“It’s a lucky day, and eight is his favorite number,” said Tran, a 31-year-old San Francisco resident. “It is supposed to bring good fortune, and that will be a good way to start our life.”
The number eight is considered lucky by numerologists and is especially auspicious in some Asian cultures. In Chinese, a day is considered lucky if it sounds like a word that is positive. The words for the number eight are ba in Mandarin and paat in Cantonese, which sound similar to the words for prosperity, fa in Mandarin and faat in Cantonese.
Last year, 7/7/07 was an extremely popular wedding date, and planners say they are expecting people to choose 9/9/09 as well, as the word for the number nine in Mandarin sounds like the word for longevity.
Eight is considered the luckiest number. So the triple-eight day just might be the most auspicious day for believers of lucky numbers, at least those who won’t be around for 8/8/2088.
Other traditions include gambling – casinos will host special events, and people are expected to line up for lottery tickets. The Olympics are set to begin in Beijing at 8:08:08 p.m. on 8/8/08.
Jim Grealish of Daly City will celebrate his 88th birthday on Friday with a party thrown by his family. The event will have a Lucky Eight theme and guests will play the card game Crazy Eights, said Kathy Ciardella, his daughter.
“He has always thought of his birthday as a lucky day, but this year is something really rare and special,” Ciardella said. “He plans to buy lotto tickets at 8 a.m. for all of us, and I’m really hoping the luck thing works in our favor.”
Sally Faubion, a professional numerologist in San Francisco, said it is not uncommon for people to “go nuts” over a date.
“People can take these things to the extreme,” Faubion said. “I’m not going to negate that it’s lucky, but it’s in the mind of the beholder.”
Faubion said that in her opinion, it is not the best day to get married because eight plus eight equals 16, and “16 is known as a number that brings loss, tragedy and a lack of communication.”
“But eight is still a number that means money, power and fame,” she said. “It’s considered an equalizer because on its side it resembles the symbol for infinity.”
Normally, about 5,000 weddings take place across the country on a Friday in August, said Rebecca Dolgin, executive editor of TheKnot.com, a site that helps couples plan their wedding day.
“This Friday, we have seen a 400 percent increase and have 22,000 people registered to get married,” Dolgin said.
“It’s a popular date for Chinese couples, and for others it is a great way to have a fun theme. Instead of a color combo, people can personalize using the number eight on decorations, flowers and attendance.”
In San Mateo County, couples began standing in line and calling on the phone as soon as reservations became available, said Theresa Rabe, the deputy assessor, county clerk-recorder. The county is doing 19 ceremonies on Aug. 8 instead of the typical four.
“People have indicated they want that day because it is lucky,” Rabe said. “Others like it because it is easy to remember.”
In China, press reports show that people try to get phone numbers, addresses, license plates and floors in buildings with the number eight in them. The telephone number 8888-8888 sold for $280,000 at an auction in China, according to a report several years ago by the Associated Press.
Yank Sing, a dim sum restaurant in San Francisco, has been getting numerous requests for reservations. Tran, the San Francisco bride, made her reservation nearly two years ago.
“We will have eight line dancers, and we will pass out little red envelopes with $8 to everyone who helped us out,” Tran said. “We want everyone to be lucky.”