Chinese couples hoping for lucky birth on 08/08/08

In Beijing's main maternity hospital, there is an even more expectant air than usual. All of the 200 beds in the wards are full, and of the scores of soon-to-be mothers, most have scheduled a Caesarean section to ensure that most auspicious and treasured of babies – an Olympic baby.

It's not just babies – more than 16,000 couples will tie the knot today in the Chinese capital to ensure their marriages have the best possible start, on the eighth day of the eighth month of the eighth year of the new millennium. The day the Olympics started. In case you haven't guessed, eight, which sounds like the word for wealth, is a lucky number in China.

Nurses at the city's biggest maternity hospital in Yaojiayuan Street are gearing up for what is set to be one of their busiest days. "There are going to be more than 60 births tomorrow, many of the women have made an appointment for a Caesarean section," said one staff sister. "Ordinarily we'd only have about 10 births."

The one-child policy of population control means that the single birth most women have is a huge community event. In the maternity hospital you see pregnant women with their partners and usually a group of four grandparents fussing around cheerfully.

"We are very happy that we are going to have an Olympic baby," said one mother-to-be, Pang Lan. Her husband, Yang Shi, added: "Tomorrow will be a perfect day. Our baby is very lucky. We all love the Olympics. It means a lot to China. Beijing has changed a lot, its environment and traffic are all turning better and better. I am proud of China."

There are long queues for C-sections in the hospital and some are worried they might not make the grade.

"Expectant mothers staying in the hospital basically all want to give birth to their babies on 8 August," said one mother-to-be, Li Wenqing. "There are too many mothers staying here and waiting. Moreover, on that day there might also be some mothers who have immediate health emergencies. Doctors cannot guarantee that every mother can do the surgery. But I will still try. After all, this date is quite rare and special."

For months, couples have calculated the length of their babies' gestation in the hope of landing a baby on 8 August.

Hou Hongying, a obstetrician at the Sun Yat-sen University hospital in Guangzhou, told local media of a pregnant woman who requested a Caesarean section at 36 weeks to coincide with 8 August. In 2000, there were more than 36 million "millennium babies", nearly twice as many births as in 1999 and a year later in 2001. Then in 2007, the Lunar New Year was the Year of the Pig, and a particularly lucky Pig year it was too as it coincided with gold, which meant millions of couples timing some 20 million births to coincide with the auspicious year. The Chinese obsession with having children at auspicious times can cause some log-jams in the social services. Baby booms put pressure on hospitals, then schools and finally job markets.

"The birth rush will create a series of shortages starting from when babies are born to the time when they look for jobs," Yu Hai, a sociology professor at Shanghai's Fudan University, told the China Daily.

Whatever the sociologists say, luck is a more powerful force than theory in superstitious China. And you can be sure that lots of these babies will be given the most popular name of the moment – "Aoyun", which means Olympics.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
The male menopause: those affected can suffer hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain, low libido, depression and an increase in body fat, among other symptoms
voicesSo the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Anna Smaill’s debut novel, The Chimes, is a fusion of fantasy and romance
booksMan Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Arts and Entertainment
One of the Pyongyang posters, the slogan of which reads: ‘Let the exploits of the northern railway conductors shine!’
art
Life and Style
Linguine with mussels and fresh tomatoes
food + drink
News
Actor Roddy Piper attends the world premiere of 'The Death of 'Superman Lives': What Happened?' at the Egyptian Theatre on April 30, 2015 in Hollywood, California.
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer