Come tomorrow, Thursday, newspapers across the world will splash pictures similar to the top three pictures above. These pictures, courtesy of the Sun newspaper of Malaysia, were taken at various locations in the country today, Wednesday during mass wedding ceremonies.
Throughout Malaysia, there must have been at least a few thousand couples who purposely tied the knot on this auspicious day, the 9th day of the 9th month of the 9th year of the new millennium or more popularly known as 09.09.09. Nine in Chinese also sounds like another word which means long-lasting or longevity.
Thus, what better day to get married for the Chinese than 999 or triple nine? Therefore, if a few thousand Chinese couples got married today in Malaysia, can you imagine China which has not only the most Chinese people but also the largest population in the world? I would imagine that it would run into tens or even hundreds of thousands. In its capital city Beijing alone, about 10,000 newly-weds were registered today!
Bearing in mind that there are Chinese people in every nook and corner of the world, can you imagine the total number of people who got married today? It must be at least a million! However, there is only one catch - in the Chinese or lunar calender, today is the 21st day of the 7th month. This is the month of ghost which is not suitable for marriage. In fact, just a week ago the Chinese especially the Taoists just observed ghost day!
But there is a way to get around it - most of the couples only register their marriages today. They will only hold their wedding feasts after the 'month of ghost' is over! The next month in the lunar calender, the 8th month will be a good date to celebrate. To begin with, the word eight in Chinese has similarity in sound with another word which means prosperity or wealth. In fact, the Chinese are so crazy about 8 that they would pay any amount to have that as their car plate number.
On top of that, the popular Mooncake or mid-autumn festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calender. As it is, the moon is normally full or round (weather-permitting) on the 1st and 15th day of the lunar month. The Chinese believe that the moon on the 15th day of the 8th month is fullest or even rounder! Thus the Chinese saying "when the moon is round, flowers bloom" and thus this is another popular date on which to get married.
In a few hours' time, except for certain parts of the world, 09.09.09 will be no more. Although in ten years' time there will be a 09.09.2109, it's not the same and mankind will have to wait until 09.09.3009 by which time I believe we will no longer be around. By then too, the bloggers will be our next next generation and we can't even imagine the technology then or the gadgets that they will be using!
But 09.09.09 is not just a good day to get married! Even the businesses are cashing in on it, some albeit with a bit of charity thrown in though. The Southern Bakery of Kota Kinabalu in Sabah has even declared a 999 Day! (Please see bottom picture) Not wanting to let this auspicious day gets by just like that, Southern is selling their fresh buns at 90 cents each and is donating to charity through Food for the Hungry International,in which Southern chain (which includes the newly-established and popular Southern Stations/Cafes across Sabah) owner and my friend CK Tan (formerly of Sabah KFC fame) has a role.
Very thoughtful of you, Mr Tan, and what a novel way to raise funds for charity! Keep it up and I hope other business establishments will follow your fine example.
Meanwhile, Welcome and Goodbye, 09.09.09! For those who miss it or not willing to let it go, don't worry, in certain parts of the world (e.g. parts of America), it's still 999 tomorrow!