While China is a fast changing country, both economically and culturally, it remains a country steeped in tradition, so anyone considering marriage to someone born and raised in China should be aware of the traditional Chinese customs surrounding marriage. Even for the most liberal Chinese families, they will play some part in marrying a Chinese woman or man.
Chinese wedding customs trace centuries of rich history and tradition. In China, wedding is a momentous event not only for the bride and groom but their families as well. Families of both parties are highly involved all throughout the process of the wedding preparations, from the engagement up to wedding day ceremony. Here, marriage is considered not only a union of two individuals but also the unification of two families.
Preparing for the Wedding Day
Preparations for the wedding begin with the betrothal, when the man and woman officially announce their decision to tie the knot. Before the proposal and acceptance, a person acts as a go-between or negotiator for the two families. During the proposal, both families select an auspicious date when they will formally meet. During the day of the proposal, the groom’s family presents the bride’s kin with proposal gifts that symbolize wealth and fertility, while at the same time indicating the groom’s ability to provide security and comfort for his future wife. It is during this grand gift-giving that the two are considered to be officially engaged.
After the meeting, both clans are expected to make announcements among their loved ones and friends by sending them invitations along with “Double Happiness Cakes”. Chinese marriage customs also dictate that the groom endow the bride’s family with the appropriate dowry.
Both sides help each other in making preparations, from decorating the bride’s home to preparing household accessories and other dining necessities.
The Big Day
On the day of the wedding, the two families work hand in hand in performing the hairdressing and capping rites for the man and woman. In a procession led by the groom, the party proceeds to the bride’s house where the groom picks up the woman and they proceed afterwards to the groom’s home for a tea ceremony. What follows is a lavish festivity for relatives and friends over sumptuous feasts. Generally, the parents of the man and woman throw separate banquets for their respective visitors. Even during the feasts, men and women sit at separate tables.
Even on their wedding night, the newly-weds are required to perform a series of rituals before they proceed to their wedding bed. The bridal room is lit with dragon and phoenix candles to drive away negative spirits and the newlyweds drink, with hands tied, from the same cup. Afterwards, the man presents his wife with half-raw dumplings to attract a wealthy family life.
The next day, the bride is expected to prepare a meal for her husband’s family. They go to the woman’s family as husband and wife three days later.
Selecting an Auspicious Date
An auspicious day is very important for many Chinese families as they believe this is a good indicator of fortune. Lucky dates are determined by fortune tellers, whom families consult for such matters.
Marrying into the Chinese Culture
With such elaborate planning and long history of Chinese wedding customs, those who marry men or women from China may be quite overwhelmed by such traditions.
The Chinese value their customs, most especially when it has something to do with marriage and starting a new family, so it is advisable for foreigners who marry a Chinese to be informed about such practices and be willing to take part in what Chinese families deem as important rituals.
As more and more singles from China marry into other cultures, we can expect these traditions to also change and transform over the years. Of all the intercultural marriages in China, the most prevalent are Chinese women dating or marrying Western men. It is thus important for a Western man to be conscious of these traditions, especially because the woman’s family expects quite a lot from her husband-to-be.
CLM eMagazine recently posted a video, “Chinese Woman, Chinese Wedding, Western Guy” and the accompanying article “Nice Day for a Red Wedding”, that give you a great taste of how Chinese traditions can play into a wedding, even where a western man is the groom, and where the bride is relatively modern in her thinking.
A great way for Western males to get to know Chinese girls and their culture is through high quality online dating sites such as China Love Match.
Category: Chinese Wedding