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February 27, 2013

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Demographics, not curse, cuts marriage

CITY civil affairs officials have predicted a decline in marriages this year, but said it is because of a decline in the number of marriage-age people, not due to the Chinese folklore belief that this year is a "widow year."

An ancient Chinese tradition says it is a bad or unlucky year to wed when li-chun, one of the 24 solar terms officially marking the start of spring, falls before the Chinese Lunar New Year.

This year, lichun fell on February 4, and the Chinese Lunar New Year on February 10.

Chinese lore experts said it is not wise to wed or give birth in such a "springless" year, which may bring bad luck because spring meant the start of life. Brides may lose husband or offspring, some said.

Superstition has put off some lovebirds, while some advanced their marriage date.

Amy Wang, a local bank employee, drew her marriage certificate at a marriage registration center in the Pudong New Area on December 12.

"My husband and I decided to advance the date mainly because of the old 'widow year' saying, as I would rather believe it for fear of bad luck," she said. She will host her wedding banquet in September.

However, civil affairs authorities in the city said yesterday that such sayings are nonsense. It is pure superstition without scientific proof, said Lin Kewu, deputy director of marriage administration of Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.

"It is suggested that couples not exchange marriage vows on some popular dates with auspicious meanings, nor postpone their marriage due to superstition," he said.

The foreseen drop in weddings is because the number of people reaching the typical marriage age is on the decline, and the trend should last till 2020, Lin said.

"An annual decrease is foreseen until 2020, because there is a gap of about 84,400 people between those born in the city in the first five years of the 1980s and the second half. Those born between 1986 and 1990 have now reached marriageable age," Lin said.

A marriage and baby boom emerged in Shanghai in the early and mid-1980s, and 906,700 babies were born between 1981 and 1985. However, the number of babies born gradually dropped to 822,300 between 1986 and 1990.


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