Believers are calling 7/7/07 The Magnificent Seven because it could quite possibly be the luckiest day of the century.
Wedding chapels and casinos are bracing for an onslaught of fortune-seekers. Thousands of couples - twice, even three times the average for a summer Saturday - plan to be married in a state of seventh heaven. And, for what it's worth, you can expect a critical mass of people sending out positive vibes.
But with Mercury in retrograde, astrologers say, the sevens won't be universally lucky.
For gamblers, 777 is the top slot-machine jackpot; the digits add up to 21 for blackjack; and in craps, a roll that adds up to 7 wins.
Plenty of people will be betting on 777 in state lotteries. For only the fourth time in its history, the Pennsylvania Lottery will hold a Millionaire Raffle, with 7,777 prizes.
Environmentalist Al Gore is promoting nine concerts, with at least one to be held in each of the seven continents (including Antarctica), called Live Earth: The Concerts for a Climate in Crisis (www.liveearth.org). And cult fans of the late rapper Tupac Shakur, who died in a 1996 drive-by shooting, believe he will return from his "faked" death on 7/7/07.
The number seven arises so often, in such significant circumstances, that, as the Borg of Star Trek's fictional universe would say, resistance is futile.
There are Seven Dwarfs, seven wonders of the world, seven deadly sins, and seven days of the week - each named for one of the seven Roman gods.
The Bible says that God rested on the seventh day, and, indeed, 7/7/07 falls on a Saturday - the Sabbath for Jews and Seventh Day Adventists.
The earth has seven seas. In the sky, the constellation of the Pleiades is known as the Seven Sisters. The seventh son of a seventh son is said to be psychic.
Jesus said to forgive seventy times seven.
Christians celebrate seven sacraments and seven virtues. Native Americans honor seven directions: north, south, east, west, above, below and within. Hindus recognize seven energy centers in the body called chakras.
In baseball, Mickey Mantle wore the number seven. And in a 1996 Seinfeld episode, George Costanza vowed to name his first son or daughter Seven in Mantle's honor.
Still, seven cannot be all things to all people.
Three times a year (and this is one), the planet Mercury has an apparent backward motion, says astrologer Shelley Ackerman (www.karmicrelief.com). So 7/7/07 is a day to look back, not step forward.
"It's a better day for renewing marriage vows than for making new ones," Ackerman says. "And it's a good time to call someone you haven't spoken with in a while and apologize for past transgressions."
And yet Frank and Julie Gelvins, both 63, of Somerville, N.J., are trading their usual weekend in Atlantic City's casinos for a trip to Vegas on July 7. The flight is $700 round trip (for two); they're taking a room on the seventh floor of the Excalibur Hotel & Casino; and they're budgeting $7,000 for gambling.
Bonnie Rossi, 57, of South Philadelphia, said she wouldn't miss being in Atlantic City on July 7 "for the world."
"If I'm going to strike it rich on some special day on the calendar, it's going to be here in Atlantic City," said Rossi, who is usually a day tripper but booked an overnight stay at Showboat Atlantic City on the 7th.
"I couldn't get a room on the seventh floor," Rossi said, "but I still think it'll be a lucky trip."
Last year, June 6, 2006, was not a popular date for weddings, what with 666 being the Biblical mark of the beast. But this year, the chapels will be crowded with couples who may or may not be doing the right thing.
Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria and San Antonio Spurs basketball star Tony Parker will be married in a castle north of Paris; super chef Wolfgang Puck will wed Gelila Assefa on the island of Capri; and seven lucky couples will have their ceremonies in the lawn-and-garden departments of their closest Wal-Mart.
"If some couples feel that number will give their marriage a better start," says wedding officiant the Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway (www.weddinggoddess.com), "I'm all for it."
But she cautions: "We in the wedding industry tend to seize any opportunity to sell to brides. So it could be that 7/7/07 is not the right date for every bride, but they've been led to believe it is."
In Paoli, Monique Bhalla is marrying Christopher Durso, and the couple, both 29, are giving their lucky guests lottery tickets.
Trang Nghe and Danny Vu, both 29, of Northeast Philadelphia, decided back on 1/1/01 that 7/7/07 would be perfect for their wedding and traditional Vietnamese tea ceremony.
In Las Vegas, the Chapel of Flowers is gearing up for its busiest day ever, says Whitney Lloyd, director of marketing. "Everyone is looking to jump-start their marriage with good luck."
The Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Vegas is charging $1,777 per couple (with two guests) to take part in its 7 p.m. mass wedding. Bigger spenders can fork over $77,777 for a wedding with 77 guests at the Ritz-Carlton New York's Central Park location.
Other hotel promotions don't require marriage licenses.
The Tropicana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City has a $7,777 hotel package, and another for $777.
Brockway suggests a mind-over-matter approach to the date.
"We are capable of creating our own reality," she says, "using the things the universe puts in our path."
Whatever you do, just be careful. Shattering a mirror brings seven years of bad luck. And if 7/7/07 doesn't meet your expectations, remember that next year brings 8/8/08.
In China, where eight is auspicious because its pronunciation in Cantonese sounds the same as the word for "to make money," the Summer Olympics will start at 8:08 a.m. on 8/8/08.
Contact staff writer Dianna Marder at 215-854-4211 or email@example.com.
Read her recent work at http://go.philly.com/
Inquirer staff writer Jacqueline L. Urgo contributed to this article.