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08/08/08 Mania

August 8, 2008 was a day virtually all Chinese people looked forward to. Most famously, it was the date on which the 2008 Summer Olympics, which took place in Beijing, China, kicked off. More specifically, the Beijing Olympics commenced at 8:08 pm on 08/08/08. Elsewhere in the city, Chinese couples had plans to get married that very day.

So what was the reason for the big commotion concerning August 8, 2008? The eighth day of the eighth month of the eighth year of the decade signified a lucky date for the Chinese because, as we know, “8” is a number that is associated with luck and good fortune in Chinese culture. The stars therefore aligned to give hopeful Olympic athletes and smitten lovebirds an auspicious date on which they would be able to make their ultimate dreams come true.

Locals in Beijing scrambled to get in on the 08/08/08 hysteria in other ways, from planning to give birth on that date to picking a cell phone number that contained eights. In Chinese culture, double and triple eights are thought to convey double and triple the amounts, respectively, of one’s good fortune. In that vein, the frenzy over 08/08/08 was a foregone conclusion for Chinese natives.

At one hospital in Beijing, the Maternal and Child Hygiene Hospital of the Haidan District, thirty babies were born between midnight and 1:00 PM on August 8, 2008. The director of the hospital had to turn away some parents who wanted to dictate the date of their newborn’s birth by scheduling caesarean sections on that date.

Those who were focused on obtaining eight-dominated cell phone numbers on or around August 8, 2008 had to pay a relatively hefty price to procure one for themselves. One Beijing local, Zhang Jianyun, was said to have paid $2,788 for the number 2008-0808. In 2007, a cell phone number consisting of six consecutive eights was said to have sold for $6,750 in eastern China.

According to one cell phone store clerk, Jin Ying, the last four digits of a cell phone number are most important. In 2008, the prices of the luckiest cell phone numbers were negotiable with the store, which recorded its hundreds of phone numbers available for sale in catalogs. The pricier ones, such as those ending in 6888 and 1888, cost upwards of $3,000.

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