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BEJING / SHANGHAI / GUANGZHOU - Valentine's Day in this auspicious Year of the Dragon has couples across China stepping forward to give each other not only flowers and chocolates, but also the promise of lifelong love.
Civil affairs officials in Beijing estimate that 4,000 couples will marry on Valentine's Day, and their Shanghai counterparts are expecting 2,000.
According to marriage registration website of the Beijing municipal civil affairs bureau, about 1,400 prospective newlyweds have made appointments to register their marriage in the bureau offices of six urban districts in Beijing - almost twice the number of last year.
In Haidian district alone, more than 370 appointments were made for the day, compared with 26 on Feb 15, according to the Beijing municipal marriage and adoption registration services website.
In Shanghai, the civil affairs offices in Pudong, Putuo, Yangpu and other districts and counties were already fully booked as of the weekend.
"The booking surge on Valentine's Day is associated with this being the Year of the Dragon, which is preferred by newlyweds," said Zhou Jixiang, head of marriage registration department in Shanghai municipal civil affairs bureau.
Wang Chao, 27, a software developer in Shanghai, said he and his fiancee made a reservation a week ago and will wait their turn in the afternoon.
"We have no specific thought on when to have a baby, but it will be great if we can have one in the Year of the Dragon," he said.
In recent years, new couples have preferred dates whose number is considered lucky.
More than 16,000 couples in Beijing swore lifelong love on Aug 8, 2008, when the Olympic Games began and the date ended with three eights, a number that sounds like "get rich" in Chinese.