Russian marriage offices have seen a surge of applications to wed this coming Friday due to the supposedly lucky character of the date: 08.08.08, officials and local media said.
In Moscow, registry offices will stay open late as applications to marry on August 8 are up by more than two thirds compared to a normal Friday in summer, a spokeswoman for the city's registry offices, Yevgenia Smirnova, told AFP.
Normally between 900 and 1,000 marriages take place on a regular Friday or Saturday in summer, she said, but applications had already reached 1,675 by the end of last week.
"The administration is lengthening the working day and cancelling the lunch break," said Smirnova. "We'll do our best to satisfy everyone and will do some extra decorating with balloons."
A similar surge occurred last year with the alignment of the figure seven on July 7. But many couples deem August 8 especially fortuitous as the digit eight resembles the mathematical sign for infinity, newspapers said.
"Newly-weds are calling it the 'day of triple infinity' and believe a wedding on this day will bring luck," the Kommersant newspaper said on Friday, cautioning however: "Statistics show this not to be strictly the case."
In some towns marriage applications for the Friday are three times higher than normal, all available restaurants and limousines have been booked and one city, Tomsk, plans mass wedding celebrations on its central square, Kommersant said.
However it also said that in places up to a quarter of those who married on July 7 last year had already divorced.
The Moscow registry office spokeswoman also sounded sceptical, saying 43 marriages registered in the city on July 7 last year had ended in divorce.
"It's not really right to say responsibility for family happiness and prosperity can be attached to a particular date," said Smirnova.
The superstition is not confined to Russia. China will be opening its Beijing Olympics at 08.08pm on 08.08.08 to benefit from the supposed good luck.