Chinese Wedding Traditions: Unique Marriage Celebrations
Despite the growing modernization of the wedding traditions of China, it can easily be seen that they haven’t left behind their ancient practices and rituals. However, the advent of contemporary wedding styles has narrowed down the celebrations to a few key ones. Irrespective of the society’s inclination towards urbanization, these traditions are highly esteemed amongst the population.
Chinese are famous all over the world for prioritizing their culture and traditions. The wedding industry has reached a whopping $80 billion, as every year on average, 10 million couples get married. We give a few details regarding the orthodox as well as the modern Chinese wedding traditions:
The Colorful Wedding Traditions of the Chinese
In a Chinese wedding, color plays a vital role, especially red. Unlike the western women, the Chinese brides do not adorn white color because it is associated with funerals. It is preferable to wear bright colors and keep the aura of the wedding rather vibrant. Nonetheless, the modern Chinese are also choosing to wear a white wedding dress just like the westerners are going for black and other dark colors.
There are more than 55 ethnicities living in China, all of whom have distinct Chinese traditions. A wedding is a different affair for each one of them but there are a few basic wedding customs which are followed throughout the country.
Choosing the Wedding Date
It is customary to consult a Chinese monk or a fortune teller before deciding on the wedding date. This helps the couple in ensuring that the wedding falls on an auspicious date according to the Chinese calendar. Details such as the birthdays of the bride and groom are considered before deciding the day of the marriage. It is believed that the right wedding date will bring prosperity and happiness to the couple.
The Traditional Chinese Wedding Invitation
If we talk about a typical Chinese wedding invitation, then it is red in color with golden writing on it. Marked with the ‘double happiness’ symbol, this invitation has details of the groom listed before those of the bride. The invitation card lets the guests know about the date of the wedding banquet as per the Chinese calendar, time for cocktails, along with venue and time for the dinner. The names of the parents of the couple are also listed on the card as they are the most important family members.
A night before the wedding, this ceremony is performed at both the houses. It starts off with the bride and the groom bathing in water which is filled with pomegranate or pomelo leaves to bring good luck. It is one of the most ancient wedding traditions in China that celebrates the couple’s coming of age and entering into adulthood. A woman of good fortune is supposed to perform this ceremony.
Picking the Bride
The actual Chinese wedding traditions start with collecting the bride on the day of the wedding when the groom leads a boisterous procession to the bride’s home. People in this procession bring along various musical instruments to show how happy they are for the groom’s family and the groom himself. A child is walking at the front to indicate the groom’s wish to have children in this marriage.
The Games Played by Bridesmaids
As soon as the groom arrives at the bride’s residence, he needs to haggle with her friends. They make the groom perform stunts and do not let him pass unless he hands them over red envelopes full of money. The wedding traditions in China require the soon-to-be-married couple to bow down to the bride’s parents before returning to the groom’s house.
Arriving at the Groom’s Residence
As soon as the couple reaches their new home, firecrackers are set off to welcome them. The bride treads on a long red-colored mat: the main idea is for her not to touch the ground as she makes her way to the house. The bride must step over a saddle or lit stove as it is believed that the fire will cast out the evil spirits and influences. This is an ancient Chinese wedding tradition and still holds a lot of significance across different parts of the country.
The Tea Ceremony
The festivities we have talked about so far are similar to many other cultures too but it is the tea ceremony which is actually unique to the Chinese traditions. This is the time when both the families are formally introduced to each other. Sometimes, the tea ceremony takes place the same day but it can also be done the following day.
The newly-weds serve the tea to the groom’s family starting from the oldest to the youngest. The tea which is being served should either have two lotus seeds or two red dates as this is integral to the ancient Chinese culture. After taking a sip from their cup of tea, each of the family members offers a red packet in return which has money, jewelry, or any other precious item as a gift for the couple.
The Grand Banquet
Each of the two families usually organizes their own feast. This implies that in China, wedding traditions and festivities could span for a number of days. The modern Chinese wedding traditions have changed with both the sides hosting a joint wedding banquet. It is a huge affair with bright, colorful decorations and between five to ten courses being served for the guests. Between the third and the sixth course, the bride and the groom dress up again.
The Chinese people call fish ‘Yu’ and it is an integral part of the feast. Either it is served whole symbolizing abundance or garnished on the soup that depicts fertility. Lotus seeds are a traditional dessert which is also considered as a symbol of fertility. The current trend is to incorporate the western style but in any wedding in China, traditions are always given importance out of respect for the elders and the family.
The Next Day After Wedding
The day after the wedding, the bride is supposed to get up early and greet all the relatives in the groom’s family. This is the day when she is officially introduced to all the family. She prepares breakfast for all and in return, receives cash or gifts from all of them. According to the seniority of her husband in the family, her parents-in-law give her a title. This title tends to become her identity amongst all the relatives and the extended family.
Third Day Celebrations
It is after three days of the wedding that the couple visits the bride’s family. Now, the girl is not considered as a part of the household rather, she and her husband are treated as guests. they are supposed to enjoy a meal with the family and spend some quality time together as per the wedding traditions in China.