11/11/11: Luck, Mysticism and Conspiracy of Rare Perfect Palindrome
By The National Post Staff
Regardless of how you keep the date — year/month/day? month/day/year? — 11/11/11 is a rare day on the Western calendar when six of the same number line up, capturing the fancy of numerologists, conspiracy theorists and textile lovers (more on this later) alike. Below, some of the ways the world is marking November 11, 2011.
The most solemn meaning of November 11? Remembrance, as much of the globe pauses in honour of those who fought — and those who fell — in various conflicts around the world. As most who paid attention during their school’s Remembrance Day ceremony know, the date’s origins come from signing of the armistice ending World War I on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month — November 11, 1918.
In China, couples flocked to registry offices to marry on Friday in the belief that the “11/11/11” date is the most auspicious in a century. November 11 has been celebrated as an unofficial “singles’ day” in China since the 1990s — as the date is composed of the number one — and it is seen as a good day to marry and leave the single life behind. But this year is viewed as particularly special because the year also ends in the number 11. More than 200 couples packed into a marriage registration office in downtown Shanghai Friday morning, some having lined up for hours before its doors opened to ensure they were among the first to marry.
Shanghai alone had more than 3,300 couples who booked to marry on Friday, but the final tally could be higher as it does not include people who walk-in unannounced, a civil affairs bureau spokeswoman told AFP. Other Chinese cities reported a similar mania for marriage. In the eastern city of Nanjing, more than 3,000 couples planned to marry on Friday, ten times the usual daily average, the official Xinhua news agency said. More than 1,300 pairs will tie the knot in eastern Hangzhou city.
Egypt will close the Great Pyramid of Giza on Friday to avoid any rituals by a group rumoured to have plans to mark the date of 11/11/11 at the site, an official said. The decision came “after much pressure” from Egyptian Internet users that strange rituals were going to be held “within the walls of the pyramid on November 11, 2011,” Atef Abu Zahab, head of the Department of Pharaonic Archaeology, told AFP.
The Supreme Council of Antiquities confirmed the closure Friday of the tourist site, in a statement that only referred to the need for maintenance following a busy period during Muslim holidays.
The Pyramid of Cheops is the biggest and most famous of the three Giza pyramids. It houses the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu, and is the only surviving one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Thousands of people plan to meet at the time around the world for ceremonial dances, and several pages devoted to the date have appeared on social networking website Facebook.
Some attribute the number 11 to paranormal powers that provide a channel of communication with the subconscious, others see a mystical connection between the number and disasters, like the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
It’s not just a day for solemnity and subconscious-channeling — what about the fabric that has given so much plush joy to the world? The folks at the Corduroy Appreciation Club havedeclared November 11, 2011 The date which most closely resembles Corduroy, EVER. In honour of this extremely important occasion — the culmination of an 11-day celebration that includes protests against that sinister, smooth rival, velvet and a “mass waling” — members are assembling in New York. They will be required to don at least three (not two!) items of corduroy. Activities will include “Dark Secret Rituals,” “Presentation of Awards for Exemplary Usage of Corduroy,” “Singing, Dancing and Poetry inspired by Corduroy,” and, we suspect most crucially, an open bar.
Much like 9-9-99, 01-01-01 and 09-09-09, 11-11-11 is a great date for marketers. Several companies, including Taco Bell and Energizer had huge promotions based around the easy-to-remember date. Probably the most notable North American promotion was the release of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, a massive role playing video game, which switched its launch date from the traditional Tuesday to Friday to get the 11-11-11 date. The fact that the date is an American holiday, Veteran’s Day, is also fueling ad dollars. From the NYT:
Ads that hinge on a special date are an example of a marketing tactic called borrowed interest, in which advertisers try to involve themselves in big, topical events that the proverbial “everyone” is talking about. It is the hucksters’ equivalent of candidates far down on the ballot attempting to win by riding the coattails of those at the top of the ticket.
Marketers aren’t the only ones looking to cash in — several Des Moines, Iowa women hope to get a refund on their obstetrician’s fee by giving birth on 11/11/11. Reports the Des Moines Register:
Dr. Ross Valone announced last February — nine months ago — that he would put the fee money into a bank account in the baby’s name, with the stipulation that the child could withdraw the money upon turning 21. His fee usually runs from $900 to $2,000, depending on the case and the insurer. Valone said Wednesday that he is scheduled to perform cesarean sections Friday on two women who delivered that way in the past. He also is scheduled that day to deliver a baby for a woman who plans to have an induced birth.
With files from Agence France-Presse