Outside the Hamilton County Courthouse, the church bells began to chime at 12 p.m., just as the marriage ceremony of Michael Anderton and Elizabeth Rice, soon-to-be Anderton, began.
"Twelve on 12/12 -- you've got it all," said Mark Sandilands, minister at the Power of Touch Church, who was marrying couples at the courthouse Wednesday. "Now that's something."
Dec. 12, 2012 -- or 12/12/12 -- is the last triple-date in most people's lifetime, and many took advantage of the once-a-century date for a number of reasons.
The newlywed Andertons didn't plan to get married on 12/12/12 at 12 p.m., but a series of coincidences led them to the courthouse Wednesday.
The couple works at St. Barnabas Senior Living Services, where they met, and both had Wednesday off -- something that rarely happens, Michael Anderton said. They knew they wanted to get married before Christmas; they just weren't sure when.
"We were already engaged, and everybody was pressuring us to set a date," Michael Anderton said.
"So we said, 'Let's give them a date,'" Elizabeth Anderton said, with a laugh.
The Andertons aren't the only ones to take advantage. Sandilands already had married two other couples, including Britny Bennett and Josh Bowers, and said another couple was waiting in the courthouse.
An average day may consist of two or three wedding ceremonies for the minister.
The Hamilton County Clerk's Office issued marriage licenses in advance to 19 couples who indicated they would be getting married Wednesday, said Susie Holloway in the clerk's office. Another 11 couples got licenses Wednesday and were married, or planned to get married, the same day.
On Valentine's Day of this year, one of the busiest days of the year for marriage licenses, 23 couples got married.
Holloway said some couples chose the date because it's easy to remember.
"For sure, they will not have a plausible excuse for forgetting to purchase an anniversary card or gift on anniversaries in the future," Hamilton County Clerk Bill Knowles said.
There's no mathematical significance to the number 12, beyond a possible connection to time, said John Graef, head of the mathematics department at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
"It has a lot of nice numbers that divide into it," he said. "It's a nice number, but that's all."
But in Chinese numerology, the number 12 brings harmony between yin (one) and yang (two).
The date also may bode well for anything new, including businesses and children, according to a psychic reader at Psychic Center of Chattanooga who goes by the name Ms. Sandra. Fresh starts, unity and government perfection are some of the things that may be associated with the day.
"I feel it's just a lucky day for new beginnings," she said.
For Hixson residents Brian and Corrie Ceraolo, the day might be luckier than they initially thought. Their son Tyler was born at 12:12 p.m. on 12/12/12.
Brian Ceraolo, a paramedic with the LifeForce crew at Erlanger, helped with the birth -- the 12 baby he has delivered, Ceraolo said.
"We're not really superstitious, but maybe 12 will be a lucky number," he said.
Rachel Bunn is originally from Ellijay, Ga., and graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in magazines and history. While at UGA, she wrote for the student magazine UGAzine, served as news editor for the student newspaper, The Red & Black, and spent a semester studying British history at Oxford University in Oxford, England. She has previously worked at The Rockdale Citizen in Conyers, Ga., and The Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the ...