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11-11-11 brings lucky babies, bets and brides

11-11-11 drives many to tie knot, place bets; will convergence of digits bring good luck? By The Associated Press

In years to come, babies born Friday should have no trouble remembering the date ' and in some cases, the exact minute ' of their birth.

The day marked the 11th day of the 11th month of 2011. From China to New York, people celebrated the convergence of 11s with a splash by placing bets, tying the knot or making a wish.

Some babies were born right at 11:11 a.m., giving their time of birth 1's across the board. In Mount Holly, N.J., Jacob Anthony Saydeh made Veterans Day even more memorable for parents who are a veteran and current member of the Air Force. To the west, Celine Dianne Dicenzo's birth in Cleveland had been expected to come next week.

But in Colorado, Cayson Childers' birthday wasn't left to chance. His parents ensured his arrival by scheduling a Caesarean section for Friday, and then doctors were able to make the operation work right at 11:11 a.m.

Across Malaysia, some 1,000 ethnic Chinese couples exchanged vows on a date viewed as auspicious and romantic. In China, a special "1111" train started at 11:11 a.m. on the No. 11 line in Shanghai.

"The numbers rhyme with one husband, one wife and one soul in Chinese and signifies a marriage that would last a lifetime," said nurse Pua Kim Giok, 25, who tied the knot with engineer Lee Chin Siong, 27. They were among 460 couples who got married at the popular Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur.

Not everyone was smiling, however.

Egypt's antiquities authority closed the largest of the Great Pyramid of Giza following rumors that groups would try to hold spiritual ceremonies on the site at 11:11.

The authority's head Mustafa Amin said in a statement Friday that the pyramid of Khufu, also known as Cheops, would be closed until Saturday morning for "necessary maintenance." The rest of the complex, which includes two other large pyramids, numerous tombs and the Sphinx, and is one of Egypt's biggest tourist attractions, remained open Friday, though security appeared to be heavier than usual.

In the U.S., the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, N.J., was planning drawings every 11 minutes for up to $1,111.

In Las Vegas, Stephanie Joseph of the Clark County Marriage Bureau says roughly 1,700 licenses have been issued so far for 11-11-11 weddings, second only to the 2,600 licenses issued for weddings on July 7, 2007. That date more than two years ago consisted of three lucky sevens.

Bryan Savage of Oklahoma City was among those tying the knot on 11-11. He said the number 11 is meaningful to him and his fianc e, Tara Melton, because his birthday is in November and they met in November.

"It's just kind of cool and we didn't really want Valentine's Day or a holiday, but we just wanted something memorable," he said.

Plus, he said, it will be easier to remember his anniversary.

The Chinese have always had a fascination with number sequences.

And in a country where ages of first marriages are creeping upward, the 11/11/11 date represents six "bare sticks," a term for bachelors in Chinese.

And there are now more of them, with housing prices, focus on jobs and growing independence of young women meaning people are getting married later.

"It's just difficult for men to afford the housing prices nowadays, and traditionally in China that is the responsibility of the man his family. I feel a lot of pressure from this," said Zheng An, a 26-year-old employee at a solar company in Shanghai.


Associated Press writers Martin Griffith in Reno, Nev.; Thomas J. Sheeran in Cleveland; Michael Crumb in Des Moines, Iowa; Tim Talley in Oklahoma City; Geoff Mulvihill in Haddonfield, N.J.; Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Fu Ting in Shanghai and Ben Hubbard in Cairo contributed to this report.

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