Friday is November 11, 2011. Yes, that's 11-11-11 — a once-in-a-century occurrence. And some people, it seems, will do anything to get a piece of the uniquely symmetrical date. Brides magazine reports 10 times more weddings occurring this Nov. 11 than on your average November Friday. Spinal Tap fans are using the day as a pretext to celebrate Nigel Tufnel, the movie's fictional guitarist who cranked his amp up to the unheard of level of 11. Some expectant parents, too, are going to extremes — desperate to ensure their babies leave the womb with a covetted 11-11-11 birthday. Here, a brief guide to the "crazy" 11-11-11 birth phenomenon:
What's happening exactly?
In South Korea, reports a Seoul newspaper, pregnant women are "flooding" hospitals so they can deliver on 11-11-11 via Caesarian section, with some pushing their delivery up an entire week. In Surat, India, 11 woman are scheduled to give birth at a single In Vitro Fertilization Center on 11-11-11. That's an all-time record for the facility. Doctors are getting an early start — 6 a.m. — to squeeze all the deliveries in. "It is going to be a hectic day for us," says one of the center's doctors.
Is the U.S. seeing strange delivery-related behavior, too?
Yes. Among the reports: An obstetrician in Des Moines, Iowa, says he won't pocket any money for babies delivered on 11-11-11. Instead, he'll put his usual fee ($900 to $2,000) in a bank account that the offspring in question can access when he or she turns 21.
Is this 11-11-11 obsession safe?
Not necessarily. "The dangers to your baby for having an elective c-section aren't anything to sneeze at," says April Peveteaux at The Stir. "Save yourself, and your baby, some pain and let it happen naturally." Mothers-to-be who are simply inducing to give birth on 11-11-11 are provoking less ire. "As your baby has reached 39 weeks, it can't hurt to try to jump-start labor," says Bonnie Rochman at TIME.
Why are people so obsessed with giving birth on 11-11-11?
In South Korea, moms may be trying to secure an extra-special government identity number for their children. The first six digits of the 13-digit numbers correspond to one's date of birth. Also, some spiritualists believe the number has special significance. "When I see the number 1111, I pray for sick children and world peace," psychic Uri Geller tells Britain's Daily Mail. It signifies "the need to find balance in life." Others simply see it as lucky and unique. "I thought it was a very cool due date," Julie Madayag, an expectant mom whose due date just happens to be 11-11-11, tells TIME. "When I go in for an ultrasound, even the technician gets excited about it."
Sources: Associated Press, Daily Mail, New York Daily News, Reuters, The Stir, TIME, Times of India, USA Today