Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

How to have a happy marriage

Marry on January 7 for wedded bliss - but there could be a monkey in the way.

Chinese couples are racing to book their weddings in six months to "guarantee" a happy marriage.

The crucial date is Saturday, January 7 next year, which in Chinese is abbreviated to 1/7/17.

When spoken in Mandarin it sounds like "yiqi, yiqi" which translates as "together, together".

"We believe the date is special because it is a perfect repeat of the same numbers," says Zoe Li.

"Getting married on that date will mean we will be together forever."

The 29-year-old is targeting that date to marry fiance Reza Razavi, 33.

Li, a video director who moved to New Zealand from Hebei, near Beijing, two years ago, said she had little trouble convincing Iranian-born Razavi to agree to the date.

"I respect how important in Chinese custom it is to choose auspicious dates for special occasions, so I left it to her," said Razavi, a hairdresser.

Massey University China specialist, associate professor Henry Chung, said New Zealand businesses had a massive marketing opportunity.

"Businesses that can benefit from this include wedding planners, tourism, accommodation, transportation, wine, catering to photography," Chung said. "Business owners and policy makers should note this event and its meaning and potential."

New Zealand has already become a favoured wedding photo spot for wealthy Chinese newlyweds.

Chung said the upcoming date was another opportunity -- particularly as January was "cold and miserable" in the Northern Hemisphere.

"In New Zealand it is warm, dry and with blue skies," he said. "We can promote that New Zealand can be a place for securing a long-term commitment, which is the most important meaning of 'yiqi, yiqi'."

Couples from china also rushed to marry on dates such as 8/8/08, 10/10/10 or 12/12/12, because they are viewed as signifying luck and love.

However, feng shui expert Francis Lui warned there could be some setbacks for people hoping to guarantee a happy wedding in January.

Chinese New Year, which follows the lunar calendar, doesn't start until January 28, so January 7 will still be in the Year of the Monkey, symbolised by fire and metal, which was believed to be destructive and could complicate marriage plans for the superstitious.

"Fire conquers metal and so they are on the destructive cycle and have a fighting relationship," Lui said.

- Herald on Sunday

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