China is one of those countries with lots and lots of traditional rituals, old beliefs, and obligatory customs. And because the wedding is such an important event in a person’s life, there are certain wedding traditions that are still maintained by Chinese people. So, if you’re thinking of getting married into a Chinese family or doing a traditional Chinese wedding, you need to know these things about the Chinese wedding etiquette. It can be wrap up in the phrase “three letters & six etiquettes”.
Three letters & six etiquettes. These are the necessary steps people follow in traditional Chinese weddings.
1. The proposal
Back in the day, when a boy or girl is at the proper age to get married, his or her family will go through a match-maker to negotiate. The groom sands the match-maker to the bride's home with gifts. There are usually around 30 different items that signify different things. One of the more unique gifts is a pair of live swan geese – because they pair monogamously, so they have one partner in their entire life; even when one partner dies, the surviving bird often will not mate again.
2. Birth date matching
If both families agree, they will move to the next etiquette which is birth date matching. They will take the boy and girl’s exact birth date and time to a fortune-teller and calculate to see if their heavens match. So basically, they're getting the heavens approval.
3. Betrothal gifts
If they do match, the third etiquette is betrothal gifts. The groom will confirm the marriage by giving the bride's family the first letter called “the betrothal letter”, with the birth dates written on it.
He'll also give her betrothal gifts.
4. Presenting the wedding gifts
The next etiquette is presenting the wedding gifts. In this step, the groom's family will send all the gifts to the bride's home, with everything listed in the second letter “the gift letter”. There's an elaborate array of gifts and each thing signifies something auspicious. if you want me to explain
This step is very important in Chinese marriages because it signifies the promise of the groom's family to the bride's family.
The bride's family doesn't have to return the gift. But to thank the groom's family, they might return half of the gifts back to them and they will also give them some other items. Some brides will personally sew clothing or shoes for the groom as gifts.
5. Arranging the marriage
The next etiquette is arranging the marriage. The two families will arrange a wedding date according to Tung Shing (traditional calendar based on the Chinese lunar year) for an auspicious date.
6. The wedding ceremony
And finally, the last etiquette – the wedding ceremony. The groom will come to the bride's home to give them the last letter called “the wedding letter”. The groom picks up the bride and then goes to the wedding customs at the groom's house. They will have a wedding ceremony and dinner.
In modern times, people have more or less simplified these steps. There are, actually, a lot more rituals before and during the wedding ceremony.
We’ll talk about them in our next articles.