We are approaching one interesting, bright and beautiful topic. It is a wedding an official confirmation of love between couples, in front of friend , family and heaven. But this time we are going to review Chinese traditional wedding.
It always played an important role for Chinese people and society. According to Confucians it had meaning of establishing strong social bond and making relationship official by which family is established. In that way marriage symbolized building of family in which women respects men and children respect parents and thus it was ideal family according to Confucius. In Taoist tradition it is affirmation of love and strengthening bond in front of heaven and call for harmonious relations and happiness. In Taoism men and women were considered as equals and two sides of yin yang.
China is so diverse and big so different culture practices different wedding customs. Especially diverse was in past when even polygamy was common. Custom was that when first wife got a bit older a man could marry another younger one so she could support household. In some remote parts of Yunnan province polyandry still exists. It is in a village of one ethnic minority where matriarchate dominates and women could have more husbands.
We will review some common practices of majority population. In todays China some customs dominate from Taoist tradition and some social principles from Confucian tradition.
There are some premarital customs such as choosing partner. In past most of weddings were prearranged by parents. Parents were considered responsible for choosing future partner for their children. It was even by law in imperial China prohibited for children to choose partner on their own since it was considered as offense to parents, elders and ancestors and social harmony. Today young Chinese couples choose wedding partner on their own. Often they spend some time with partner in a relationship before wedding itself. In past parents were going to matchmaker who according to zodiac sign, birthdate, our of birth and other criteria was matching who will suit the most as a couple and be happy and prosperous. Today couples usually go to astrologist in order to hear about how prosperous and happy their marriage will be and some advices how to avoid bad luck or how to overcome crises in future. Some young Chinese and their parents still go to matchmaker to according to zodiac and other indicators find future partner who applied for matchmaking service of searching perfect boyfriend or girlfriend. This is still often practiced in rural areas but in modern towns because of lack of time for socializing as there is too much work. Parents or children go to matchmaker to search for perfect match. Today except zodiac matching matchmaker looks for preferences, interests, education, profession and similar criteria when matching future couple. Prior to arranging marriage date father and son go to future brides house to ask her father for official proposal. They usually bring nice gifts or money in red envelopes. On day of proposal family of future bride offers some meal to future groom and his father. Today this is just customarily practiced and already pre agreed between future bride and groom. Couples usually visit astrologist in order to arrange date of marriage like in past times. In past it was of crucial importance today it is more customary to visit astrologist in order to determine which day will be perfect for guaranteeing happy and fortunate marriage. When day of marriage is already determined wedding ceremony starts on that happy and fortunate day.
Groom with his parents, relatives and wider family and his friends in early morning come to brides house. They are welcomed there by bride, her parents, wider family and friends. They are hosted with some food and drinks and they together go to grooms home. Before going to grooms home in tradition bride had to cry as a symbol of sorrow for leaving her home. Today it is more rarely practiced. When they reach grooms home official establishment of marriage occurs. Before going to special chamber bride and groom have to bow 3 times. First they bow for Heaven and Earth to get blessing for their marriage, second bow is for parents and ancestors and third bow is to each other. Today couples usually bow for times as second bow to home shrine. There they bow to deities respected by Chinese families such as Guanyin, Jade Emperor, Three Pure Ones and Maitreya Buddha. Before going to chamber or another room for uncovering veil they serve the tea to their parents as sign of respect and thankfulness. In past they used to enter special chamber and there groom had to uncover the veil which stretched over brides face. Today they do it in a empty room of the home usually but some families still prepare chamber. After uncovering face from veil they officially become married.
After bowing and veil uncovering couple is married under Chinese tradition. Then next step is that new couple receives gifts from family or friends. They receive usually money in red envelopes. On envelopes there are often in golden color depicted dragon and phoenix a symbol of love, balanced and fortunate marriage and endless bond between couples. Dragon and phoenix and symbol of double fortune are also put on banners for good luck and on walls of the grooms home.
\In past usually banquet was held in grooms home now it is usually in reserved restaurant. Then all people go to restaurant to have large lunch. Banquet consists usually of many meals but really many meals and a lot of drinks. Usually celebration lasts until late hours of the night or early morning. Today some pop band is invited to play to entertain people while they sing or dance. Custom is that groom must drink a shot of baijiu with all of his friends and family members and usually it looks like this: he has to visit every table where guests sit and he must as sign of respect drink on every table a glass of baijiu. It isn’t an easy task usually. People chat, socialize, make jokes, speak cheerful topics, sign and dance. Lilies are decorating tables not only because of beauty but because of symbolic meaning. Lily in Chinese is said Baihe and sounds similar to idiom Bainian haohe what means happy union for hundred years. Orchids are also used as they symbolize happy love, wealth and fortune.
After banquet all company escorts couple to grooms home. They are supposed to escort them in front of sleeping room where they have to spend night. But before they leave them alone they try to make fun on them as much as possible and make them tired as it is part of custom and game to play tricks on new couple. Only when guests had enough of making fun on married couple they leave them alone to spend night.
ENjoy China 😉