Lifestyle

The Chinese Wedding Traditions



On the night of the wedding, dragon and phoenix candles were often lit in the bridal room to drive away the evil spirit, the newly wedded couple drank wine from two cups with arms crossed from each other. This is the formal wedding vow in traditional Chinese culture.

Marriage customs differed by region, but the above were the most common. As times goes by, the Chinese today have tended to discard some of the details and advocate simplified marriage procedures and wedding ceremonies.

Three Letters and Six Etiquettes

Ever since old times, marriage has been regarded by the Chinese as one of the most delightful moments in one's life. In past feudal society, wedding decisions were made solely by the parents. Essential to the marriage process were the commonly recognized ‘Three Letters and Six Etiquettes’.

The Three Letters are:


A Betrothal Letter: The formal document of the engagement.

A Gift Letter: This letter would be given to the proposed girl’s family. It contained a list of gifts and items designated for the wedding once both families accepted the marriage.

A Wedding Letter: It was prepared and presented to the bride’s family on the wedding day and was the letter that confirmed and honored the formal acceptance of the bride into the bridegroom’s family.



The Six Etiquettes include:

Proposing: The marriage procedures would only proceed after a matchmaker's introduction and after parents from both side agreed that the match was amicable based on family background and conditions. Conditions that would be taken into consideration included wealth and social status. If the proposal was successful, the matchmaker would be rewarded with generous gifts and feasts to show the two families' gratitude. Usually, many unmarried couple could not see and were unfamiliar with each other until their wedding day.

Birthday Matching: If the potential bride’s family did not object to the marriage, the matchmaker would then ask for the girl’s birth date and full name to predict the compatibility of the potential bride and bridegroom. The Chinese zodiac would be surely taken into consideration. If there was any sign of astrological conflict, which meant the marriage would be an unhappy one or would even bring misfortune upon both families, the proposed marriage would immediately cease.

Presenting Betrothal Gifts: If the match was predicted to be auspicious, the bridegroom’s family would then arrange for the matchmaker to present betrothal gifts and the betrothal letter to the bride’s family, and inform them that the marriage process could continue.

Presenting Wedding Gifts: After the betrothal gifts and letter were accepted, the bridegroom’s family would then formally send wedding gifts to the bride’s family. The gifts were generally money, expensive items and food, symbolizing respect and gratitude towards the bride's family as well as showing the capability of providing a good life for the bride.

Selecting the Wedding Date: An astrologer/ feng shui master would be consulted by the bridegroom’s family to help select an auspicious date for wedding ceremony.

Wedding Ceremony: On the selected wedding day, the bridegroom departed with his party and musicians, playing cheerful music all the way to the bride’s home. The bride, whose face was covered with a red cloth, would be carried by a sedan taken by eight people to the bridegroom’s family. On the arrival of the sedan at the wedding place, there would be music and firecrackers. Then the couple would go to their bridal chamber and serve tea to the bridegroom’s parents and other family elders while kneeling in front of them, a symbolic gesture of asking for permission. Then the bride and bridegroom bowed to each other and this completed the marriage ceremony.

On the night of the wedding, dragon and phoenix candles were often lit in the bridal room to drive away the evil spirit, the newly wedded couple drank wine from two cups with arms crossed from each other. This is the formal wedding vow in traditional Chinese culture.

Marriage customs differed by region, but the above were the most common. As times goes by, the Chinese today have tended to discard some of the details and advocate simplified marriage procedures and wedding ceremonies.

Legend of Yue Lao, Old Man under the Moon: In Chinese legend, Yue Lao (月老) is a Chinese deity who is in charge of marriage between and woman. Yue Lao ties a red string between a couple to make them husband and wife Thus, no matter how far apart they are, they will eventually meet each other and fall in love with each other.

Red as the Color of Weddings: Red is used in a variety of ways in Chinese wedding traditions. It signifies love, happiness, good fortune and prosperity and is essential to the wedding theme. The bride's wedding gown is often red, as are the wedding card invitations, gift boxes and red pockets for cash gifts. Even the bride and bridegroom's homes, and wedding ceremony venues are decorated in red on the wedding day. 

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