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Wedding

In Chinese culture, a marriage is not simply a love match between two people, but an establishing of a relationship between two families as well. If the parents are not happy with the lineage and status of the other family, a wedding will not occur. If both families are satisfied with each other, they will discuss the amount of the dowry and the number of tables allocated to the bride’s family at the wedding banquet. The groom's family will ask the bride's name and date of birth in order to determine a suitable date for the wedding by reference to a fortune teller.

A typical Chinese traditional wedding always includes a complete set of ceremonies and there are more than a dozen traditional rules.

 

Sending plates

Several days before the wedding, the groom's family must send pork, lamb, herring, chicken, goose, Dingsheng cake and zongzi (made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves). In the 1930s and 1940s the tradition was to send a 3.5-kilogram salted pig's leg, 4-kilogram fresh pig's leg and 4.5-kilogram herring. The groom's family would put all the food on a wooden plate or in baskets and send two men to deliver it to the bride's home.

 

Settling tables

Families of the bride and groom should do a lot of decoration and preparation work for the banquet one day before the wedding. It's called "settling tables." It mainly includes hanging lanterns and colorful ribbons, butchering pigs and sheep, setting up tea stoves, borrowing tables and chairs and establishing a round wooden hall (a kind of temporary house for banquets).

 

Transporting the dowry

The groom's family will send people to transport dowry from the bride's home before the wedding. In old times, people usually used long poles to carry the dowry items, sometimes by ship if the trip was too long.

The bride's family will put the dowry in the living room. Brothers of the bride should carry the footbath and closestool, which is also called "offspring barrel" (symbolizing more children), out of the room first, then the groom's men could move the rest of the dowry. The "offspring barrel" shall be carried in the first line of the team, lifted by two boys. After it there should be bedclothes, articles for daily use, boxes and wardrobe. When the dowry reaches the groom's home, it should be put in the living room to show off, and then moved into the bedroom.

 

Fetch the bride

At traditional Chinese weddings, the Tea Ceremony is the important part of the wedding ceremony. This ritual is still practiced widely among Chinese. As a form of expressing gratitude, the bride and the groom kneel in front of bride's parents and offer them tea. In response to this, parents drink a small portion of tea and gift the pair a red envelope. Those who receive the tea usually give the bride gifts such as jewelry or Li Shi money wrapped in red envelope.

When the bride leaves her home with the groom to his house, a "Good Luck Woman" will hold a red umbrella over her head, meaning "raise the bark, spread the leaves." This "good luck woman" should be someone who is blessed with a good marriage, healthy children and husband and living parents. The red umbrella protects the bride from evil spirit.

This refers to the groom going to the bride's home to take her to the wedding. Usually the groom's team will be led by a band, followed by the groom, a boy who holds the "offspring bag" with eggs and a quilt, sedan chair, relatives and friends of the bride and groom. When the team with the bride reaches the groom's home, firecrackers shall be let off. The groom's mother will come out, accept the "offspring bag" and take it to the bridal chamber. Then, the sedan chair will be lowered, and the bride will get off with the support of the emcee and enter the house. The last but not the least important thing for the groom is to go back to the gate and welcome the bride's uncle to the hall.

 

Gift at the first meeting

Before the banquet, there is a ceremony for the groom's parents and senior relatives to meet the bride. The ceremony will be hosted by the emcee, and the ground will be covered by the red carpet. First, the new couple should kowtow to the elder relatives of the groom in order. Meanwhile, the parents and other senior relatives of the groom will give the bride hongbao (money in red envelopes), and the new couple shall return gifts with sweets, peanuts and fruits covered by a towel.

 

Holding the banquet

The banquet held by the groom's family is usually in the evening, and there will be at least five baxian tables (an old-fashioned square table for eight people). The two tables on the north are the main tables. The groom and uncle of the bride will be seated to the right and the bride and her maid-of-honor to the left. The other tables are for relatives. The chefs and tea makers are required to serve carefully. Hot towels will be served at least three times during the banquet for the groom, the bride and her uncle. After using the first hot towel, the uncle shall also give chefs and tea makers hongbao as a reward.

 

Wedding ceremony

It's the core of a wedding and should be held in the main hall. In the hall center there are two baxian tables put together with varied dim sum, fruit and a pair of red candles on the top. Over the tables on the wall there are auspicious pictures with pretty boys and girls. The ceremony is hosted by the emcee.The new couple should bow to the god, the parents and each other. A red cloth covers the bride's head. When the bowing is done, a boy and a girl will hold the fancy candles and lead the couple around the table three times. Then, the couple will enter the bridal chamber.

 

Making bed

Before the newly wedded couple enters the bridal chamber there is a "making bed" ceremony. The bed should be made by a married couple whose parents are still alive, have offspring and are senior to the new couple. This task is usually handled by the groom's parents. If both of the groom's parents are not alive, the ceremony will be conducted by other seniors.

 

Eating harmony dumplings

When the bride and groom enter the bridal chamber and sit on the bed, the groom's mother will serve the couple "harmony dumpling" to express her wish that the new couple would live harmoniously in the future. It is a kind of little dumpling made of glutinous rice in brown sugar soup. It symbolizes a sweet and happy life.

 

Closestool opening

A healthy and clever boy with good looks will urinate into the ciosestool ("offspring barrel"). The ceremony shall be done in public, with a hope that the couple will have a baby just like this healthy boy.Since the closestool is used at the first time, the ceremony is called "closestool opening."

 

Disturbinglhe bridal chamber

Generally there are three days around the wedding when people shall not get angry. Therefore, when the newly wedded couple enters the bridal chamber, relatives and friends often like to play some tricks on them. And in this case, if thef say or do something that crosses the line, the couple shall not be angry.

 

Return visit

On the third day of the wedding, parents of the bride will send her brother to the groom's home, expressing greetings and inviting the newly wedded couple for a return visit. The couple shall prepare some gifts for the visit, while the bride's parents will offer a feast to the visitors. It's called "return visit banquet."

In the Chinese society the wife lives with the husband’s family and is deemed as no longer part of her own family. If a relative of either the bride or groom dies before the wedding day, the wedding will be postponed for a period, traditionally a year but now usually reduced to a hundred days, as it is considered inappropriate to hold a wedding during a period of mourning.