Couples in Bulgarian cities and towns have booked weddings on December 12 2012, the last “triple date” for 100 years, while others – expressing either optimism or fatalism – will tie the knot on December 21, the day punted in prophecy by the Mayans as the date of the end of the world.
With an eye to profits, wedding planners, hotels and restaurants have littered the internet with advertisements of special offers for weddings on 12/12/12. Several, mindful of the likely spending power or lack of it of young Bulgarian couples, offer a range options, downward from “luxurious” ceremonies to “economy” models. Price ranges, predictability, are softened by misty soft-focus illustrations of wedding rings, cakes and adoring couples gazing longingly at each other.
For Bulgarian couples, however, there is a significant complication. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church is currently observing the 40-day lent period of Advent before Christmas, a time during which weddings are not allowed.
Church weddings are ceremonial but not legal, given that Bulgaria’s constitution specifies that marriage is a civil union between a man and a woman – a provision, by the way, that forestalls gay marriages in Bulgaria. December 12 and 21 will see only weddings at state civil marriage offices, on a strictly heterosexual basis.
While cities and towns from Australia to Finland to Russia and several places in Asia are reporting a torrent of bookings of wedding ceremonies on December 12, the figures in Bulgaria are not quite as impressive – a confirmation, perhaps, of a trend reported earlier this year by the National Statistics Institute that Bulgarian couples increasingly are choosing cohabitation instead of marriage.
Sofia is somewhere around the 40 mark, the Black Sea city of Varna 25, Bulgaria’s second city Plovdiv 20.
Still, with wedding halls having limited capacity, demand is not always possible to meet – especially for those couples who want the cherry on the wedding cake by marrying at noon, or for the truly pedantic, at 12.12pm.
“I will do everything possible to get married on December 12. If necessary, I will go to Turkey! We are going around with my father-in-law looking for a church that will perform the ceremony,” Plovdiv’s Irina Petrova was quoted as saying by local media.
Sofia’s wedding halls were full and were considering opening extra hours. Local officials said that there was a waiting list, with hopefuls holding thumbs that at least some of those who had booked their weddings as early as March 2012 would call it off.
Plovdiv also reported couples who had booked weddings on December 21, deliberately choosing the date because according to Mayan prophecy, that is the date that the world will end (a choice that suggests either a determination to avoid the risk of divorce, or the risk of paying the wedding dress, catering and drinks bills).
Bulgarian-language media reports solemnly recorded that according to Nasa, there was nothing in the stars – literally – to suggest the risk of any form of cataclysm on December 21. Not an unusual planetary alignment or even a giant killer asteroid in sight.
Reports also solemnly quoted numerologists as saying that December 12 was not a good choice of date for a wedding, a conclusion reached apparently on the basis of the conjunction of the numbers one and two, linked to Mars and thus (somehow) to disorder and conflict in a marriage. But then again, the numerologists – seemingly hedging their bets – also said that the number 12 “is the embodiment of the unity of the universe”.
Complicating matters further, other reports quoted other numerologists and astrologers as saying that 2012 was a very good year to get married, with the planets in a favourable position to promote harmony in a marriage. This was qualified, however, by saying that the best time to have got married was the first half of 2012.
(Photo: Kai Kuusik-Greenbaum/sxc.hu)