04 Oct 2015
Chinese Wedding Traditions: Preparing for the Wedding Day
Chinese Wedding Traditions
Selecting an Auspicious Wedding Date
It is customary for the parents to consult a fortune-teller to select an auspicious wedding date. Using the Chinese calendar, the date best suited for the couple is based on their birth dates, time and Chinese zodiac signs. It’s considered good luck to marry on an even day and month of the year. After the selection of the wedding day, wedding details such as the types and quantities of betrothal gifts, bride’s price, tailor a wedding dress, number of tables at the wedding banquet even the time and date of parturition are provided by the groom’s parents for the bride’s parents guests are agreed.
Delivery of the bride’s dowry
The bride’s parents may include the bride’s dowry with the return gifts on the day of betrothal or deliver the dowry before the wedding. The Chinese dowry typically include; the red shantung(silk fabric) dress smock with Chinese character embroider ‘pai-nie-hai-lao’(living together for 100 years). Five kinds of seed grain(ngao-jeng-jii) such as paddy rice, polished rice, red glutinous rice, green gram, red gram will be put in the red paper bag with a pair of Chinese chives (xung-chao). The Chinese dowries typically include: golden necklaces 4 Baht weight (60.976 grams) are given by bride’s parents (you can use the artificial gold), number 4 (si) is considered a lucky number in Chinese and the five kinds of seed grain symbolized a progressive family. Beddings such as pillows, blankets, bed sheets, etc., all tied with red ribbons, new clothes, tea set for the wedding tea ceremony, a pair of red potty, face washbasin, tumblers, toothpaste and toothbrushes, mirror, 4 combs(si-si-oo-hor-xiu), chopstick, sewing basket with thread, needles, scissors, and a red hand fan for the bride use in the wedding ceremony.
One of the customary things that the bride receives from her parents in-law is cash and a set of gold jewellery called “Si Dian Jin” or 4 touches of gold, usually comprised of a necklace, pendant, a bracelet, and earrings. The other gifts are fruit; sweet orange and a bunch of bananas. Food; pig’s head, feet, and tail. And five kinds of wedding cakes; Chinese wedding cookies, egg cake with sesame sprinkled on top, peanut candies, Khao Pong Tub or rice crunch and Kanom-Ko or snow cake. All with auspicious words “Double Happiness” (shuangxi) on it.
The wedding day
A bride and a groom will be dress in traditional Chinese wedding dress, under the golden Chinese weddingsymbol “double happiness”. The groom will gives his bride-to-be’s parents the betrothal gifts. The bride will keep half of the wedding cake and give it to her relatives to show her status “married” and the other half she will send it back to the groom with sweet orange and golden pin. All with auspicious words “Double Happiness” (shuangxi) on it. At the auspicious time, the groom will give the engagement ring for his bride. The parents will offer their best wishes to the newlyweds and then begin wedding dinner.
Day of the Wedding Fetching the bride
For a Chinese bride, the wedding dress is generally a long, form-fitting, one-piece gown called a Qi Pao, red is the traditional color. The bride will pin her hair with the golden hair pin and pomegranate’s leaves, these symbolized for love and virginity. Then the bride and groom will first pray to heaven and earth and having dinner with the bride’s parents. At dinner party, the bride’s father will use chopsticks pick up traditional Chinese banquet (a 10 course meal where each dish symbolizes good fortune, happiness, etc) for the bride. When the groom arrive, he will be blocked at the bride’s door, and her friends will try to stop him from entering by asking for Ang Pao (money inserted into little red packets) before the groom is allow to give his bride-to-be a bouquet. Before the newly wed leave the bride’s house, they have to eat Pink Rice Balls in Coconut Milk or Kanom Ee and the bride’s parent may give the couple banquet again, when the bride finally goes out to ascend the car(with the number 4), her parents will offer their best wishes to the bride and sprinkle of the sacred water by pomegranate’s leaves for the good luck. After biding farewell to her relatives, the bride’s brother or a senior male relativewill carry her directly to the sedan while carrying the gas lamp in one hand. It is said that by doing so, the bride will soon have a baby son.
Wedding Tea Ceremony
The bride is formally introduced to the groom’s family through the Chinese wedding tea ceremony. It will usually take place on the wedding day. When arriving at the groom’s home, the groom has to place the gas lamp in the bedroom. And the bride and groom will first pray to heaven and earth, then to the groom parents or family elders and lastly bow to each other. The young couple is required to serve tea while kneeling down, the bride will stand to the right of the groom. The male elder being served will sit facing the bride. The female elder will sit facing the groom. The bride and groom will bow to the elders and greet them by their formal title in the family while serving them tea(Chinese tea cups are small and no handle, unlike the huge teacupsof the West). They will also serve the tea to ancestral altars. After drinking the tea, the tea ceremony gifts for the bride and groom will be presented on the serving plate. Day after the wedding Three days after the wedding, the newlyweds would pay a visit to the bride’s family at home. At this time, the bride would no longer be considered a part of her family, but rather a guest in her parents’ house.
Contributed By: Khun Jitra Kornanthakeat