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World marks 11/11/11 with weddings, lotteries and hope

12 november 2011, 14:45
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Married couples celebrate on November 11, 2011 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in New York. ©AFP
Married couples celebrate on November 11, 2011 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in New York. ©AFP
With a crush of marriages, a rush to buy lucky lottery tickets and prayers for peace and harmony, people worldwide marked Friday's once-per-century 11/11/11 lineup with humor, hope and a hint of mischief, AFP reports.

Couples from Shanghai to Jakarta and Helsinki to Las Vegas swamped registry offices and chapels to marry on Friday in the belief that the date is among the most auspicious in a century -- and competition was fierce to lock in a wedding ceremony reservation at the magic hour of 11:11.

Shanghai hotel manager Li Xue, 26, originally planned to marry in February next year, but she brought forward her plans because of the special day.

"We are getting married on the day of 'six ones.' We will no longer be single on the once-in-a-century singles' day," she told AFP, noting China's unofficial "singles day" is celebrated on November 11.

Thousands were trying their luck at married life in Las Vegas, with several chapels in Sin City packed to the rafters as lovebirds sought the chance to marry on such a memorable date -- and no doubt provide an easy way for husbands to remember their anniversaries.

"We started this morning at 6:30 am, and it's at least 150 (weddings) or maybe more by the end of the day," said an employee at the Little Church of the West who identified herself as Candice.

"It's a special day, it's just really cool and he won't forget the date, its a once in a lifetime date," said 46-year-old nurse Michelle after marrying her boyfriend Marcos Garcia, 41.

Most couples actually get their wedding license the day before they marry -- so the peak was on Thursday, when a grand total of 1,476 were issued, Stephanie Joseph of the Clark County Marriage Bureau told AFP.

"Normally we have 200 to 400," she said.

Chapels aren't the only ones doing brisk business. Lottery ticket sales surged, with firms around the world capitalizing on the public's appreciation for a run of ones.

A Spanish charity for the blind named ONCE, which means 11 in Spanish, held a special lottery with 11 one-million-euro prizes and a super jackpot worth 11 million euros. All of its 13.5 million tickets sold out, organizers said.

"Lottery players are superstitious with their lucky numbers, and on a day like today, it's likely that very many will pick 1-1-1-1," said Carole Everett of the Maryland Lottery.

Many see the date as a sign of hope and positivity. In Brazil, a 30-year-old bicyclist chose to end his round-the-globe ride through 59 countries on 11/11/11, after a three-year, three-month, three-day journey that began on another auspicious day, 08/08/08.

"People are the same wherever they are, and the whole world wants the same thing, which is a better world," rider Danilo Perrotti Machado said.

Restaurants dished out themed menus to try and cash in on the date. The Jefferson Hotel in Washington was offering an 11-course tasting menu for $111.11 per person.

Why all the fuss over a set of digits?

Numerologists and others see 11 as a master number, and a triple master number is seen as extra powerful. For decades, 11:11 has resonated with people focusing on the numbers when they see them on digital clocks.

Ellie Crystal, a psychic and metaphysical explorer, said she will "tune into global energies that began on the other side of the world and domino here to New York City."

Crystal sees 11:11 as an "awakening code" that could elevate consciousness.

One group reading between the lines was wearers of corduroy, whose raised ridges encapsulate the fabric's supreme elevenness.

"Corduroy Lovers. The 11/11/11 is upon us, the day that most closely resembles Corduroy. Let's celebrate by wearing as much Cord as possible!" wrote Twitter user CorduroyWines.

The New York-based Corduroy Appreciation Club was to hold its "111111 Grandest Meeting," and the event was sold out.

11:11 fans have taken to social media to promote happenings such as dances, prayer ceremonies and oneness events worldwide.

That may have spooked authorities in Egypt, where the Great Pyramid of Giza was closed to avoid any rituals by a group rumored to have plans to mark the date at the site.

The decision came "after much pressure" from Egyptian Internet users that strange rituals were going to be held "within the walls of the pyramid on November 11, 2011," said Atef Abu Zahab, head of the Department of Pharaonic Archaeology.

The elevens have aligned for Nigel Tufnel, the heavy metal guitarist in "This is Spinal Tap" who in the classic 1984 mockumentary showed how his amplifiers "go to 11."

But while an appreciation society has been petitioning to have 11/11/11 christened Nigel Tufnel Day, as of Friday no government appeared to have granted them their wish.

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