The Ancient Marriage Customs English Literature Essay

Systemization of seemingly preexistent elements of traditional Chinese nuptials ceremonial is by and large credited to bookmans of the Warring States period, 402-221 B.C.Three venerable texts, The Book of Rites, The Book of Etiquette and Ceremonial, and the Baihu Tong outline the Three Covenants and the Six Rites, that were considered necessary elements of a matrimony. However, the full rite was so complicated that even within the span of the Warring States period, the etiquette underwent alterations and simplification.

What remained changeless were the main aims: connection and heightening the two households and guaranting sequence with legion posterities. Fear to parents and ascendants, portents to promote birthrate and wealth, fiscal and societal duties contracted by both households at the engagement, extended gift giving etiquette, and the bride ‘s incorporation into her hubby ‘s household are repeating elements.


The Proposal

The procedure began with an luxuriant matrimony proposal and credence. This procedure was placed in the custodies of a go-between, who acted as a buffer between the two parties – a function similar to that of a existent estate agent today. The of import parties in proposal and betrothal dialogues were the parents of the prospective bride and groom, instead than the bride and groom themselves.

“ Marriage was for go oning the hereditary line and making confederations between households – ; excessively of import a responsibility to be left in the roseola custodies of the immature, ” Costa explains. ”

When the male child ‘s parents identified a likely fiancee, they would direct the go-between to show gifts to the miss ‘s parents and to sound out their feelings about the lucifer. If the proposal was well-received, the go-between would obtain the day of the month and hr of the miss ‘s birth recorded on a formal papers.

The groom ‘s household would put this papers on the hereditary communion table for three yearss. If no unfortunate portents, e.g. wrangles between the parents or a loss of belongings, took topographic point within that clip, the parents would give the information to a astrological expert to corroborate that the immature adult female and their boy would do a good lucifer. If the male child ‘s household found the horoscope to be favourable, they gave the male child ‘s birth day of the month and hr to the go-between to convey to the miss ‘s household, who would travel through the same procedure.

Merely after both results were favourable, would the two households arrange to run into. Finally face-to-face, each household evaluated the other in footings of visual aspect, instruction, character, and societal place. If both were satisfied they would continue to the engagement.

The Betrothal

First both sets of parents exchanged household certificates as items of purpose. Then, after extended bargaining, the two households would get at the sum of money and goods that would do up the gift to the miss ‘s household. After showing battle items, the go-between would inquire the bride ‘s household to take among severalauspicious marrying day of the months suggested by the male child ‘s household and besides set a day of the month for showing betrothal gifts.

The male child ‘s household presented betrothal gifts of money and important points such as tea, “ Dragon ( male ) and Phoenix ( female ) ” espousal bars, braces of male and female domestic fowl, sweetmeats and sugar, vino and baccy, accompanied by an itemized statement of these gifts. Tea was such a primary portion of these gifts in some countries that they were known jointly as cha-li, that is, “ tea nowadayss. ” The miss ‘s household reciprocated with gifts of nutrient and vesture.

It was customary for the miss ‘s household to administer the espousal cakes they received from the male child ‘s household to friends and relations as a signifier of proclamation and invitation to the nuptials banquet. The figure of bars given to each was established harmonizing to a stiff etiquette, on the footing of senior status and grade of familiarity. Those who received the espousal bars, were expected to show congratulatory gifts to the miss ‘s parents.

The male child ‘s household ‘s gifts acknowledged the parents ‘ attempts in raising the miss, and by accepting the gifts, the miss ‘s household pledged her to the male child ‘s. It is interesting to observe that the bride was given to the household instead than the groom entirely. Although the bride and groom likely had non met yet, engagement was considered binding unless both households agreed to invalidate the contract.

Several yearss after the presentation of the betrothal gifts, the miss ‘s household sent porters with an inventoried dowery to the male child ‘s house. The dowery consisted of practical points, including a chamber pot, filled for the juncture with fruit and strings of coins. This emanation gave the miss ‘s household the chance to expose both their societal position and their love for their girl, and affluent parents frequently included functioning misss to go to their girl in her new place.

Betrothals by and large lasted for a twelvemonth or two, although child engagements would last until the kids had grown to nubile age.

Fixing for the Wedding Day

Withdrawing to the Cock Loft

In readying for her at hand going, the bride-to-be retreated from the ordinary modus operandi and lived in privacy in a separate portion of the house with her closest friends. During this period, the immature adult females sang plaints, mourning the bride ‘s separation from her household and cussing the go-between – ; every bit good as the groom ‘s household and even the miss ‘s ain parents. Since this drawn-out ‘sleep over ‘ frequently took topographic point in the prick loft, the bride ‘s outgrowth on her nuptials twenty-four hours was sometimes referred to as “ coming out of the prick loft. ”

Installing the Bridal Bed

Preparation on the portion of the groom involved the installing of the espousal bedon the twenty-four hours before the nuptials. A propitious hr and a ‘good fortune adult female ‘ or ‘good luck adult male ‘ , that is a adult male or adult females with many kids and life couples, were selected to put in a freshly purchased bed. ( The installing ceremonial consisted of simply traveling the bed somewhat ; the existent work was done by retainers or friends. )

After the bed was in topographic point, kids were invited onto the bed as an portent of birthrate – ; the more, the merrier. For the same ground, the bed was scattered with ruddy day of the months, oranges, Nelumbo nucifera seeds, peanuts, Punica granatums and other fruits. Part of the merriment was watching the kids scramble for the fruit.

Day of the Wedding

The “ Hair Dressing ” Ritual of the bride and the “ Capping ” Ritual of the groom symbolized their induction into maturity and were of import parts of the nuptials readyings. Red, symbolic of joy, featured conspicuously in the vesture and other ritual objects refering to the nuptials.

The “ Hair Dressing ” Ritual

At morning on her nuptials twenty-four hours ( or the dark before ) , the bride bathed in H2O infused with pumelo, a assortment of Citrus paradisi, to cleanse her of evil influences – ; and one suspects as a decorative to soften her tegument in the mode of modern-day alphahydroxls. She put on new underwears and sat before illuminated dragon-and-phoenix tapers.

A ‘good fortune adult female ‘ attended the nuptial readyings. She spoke auspicious words while dressing the bride ‘s hair in the manner of a married adult female.

After her hair was styled, the bride emerged from her retreat. She was carried to the chief hall on the dorsum of the ‘good fortune ‘ adult female or her most senior sister-in-law. There she donned a jacket and skirt and stepped into a brace of ruddy places, placed in the centre of a screen. The bride ‘s face was covered with either a ruddy silk head covering or a ‘curtain ‘ of tassels or beads that hung from the espousal Phoenix Crown. ( The exposure below was taken at the mock nuptials at a anterior twelvemonth ‘s Chinese Summer Festival.

After finishing her nuptials readyings, the bride bowed to her parents and to the hereditary tablets and awaited the reaching of the nuptial emanation from the groom ‘s house.

The “ Capping ” Ritual

Dressed in a long gown, ruddy places and a ruddy silk sash with a silk ball on his shoulder, the groom knelt at the household communion table while his male parent placed a cap decorated with cypress foliages on his caput.

The groom bowed first before the tablets of Heaven and Earth and his ascendants, so to his parents and the assembled household members. His male parent removed the silk ball from the sash and placed it on top of the nuptial saloon chair.

The Emanation from the Groom ‘s House to Obtain the Bride

The dim of bangers, loud tam-tams and membranophones marked the start of the emanation from the groom ‘s place. The groom led the emanation accompanied by a kid as an portent of his hereafter boies, and the nuptial saloon chair was proceeded by attenders with lanterns and streamers, instrumentalists, and a ‘dancing ‘ king of beasts or unicorn. Harmonizing to Hsiang, “ Several decennaries ago, when there was a nuptials in Fukien, the groom would to the bride ‘s house to bring her, taking with him the espousal chair, which was wholly covered with ruddy satin and fresh flowers. He himself made the journey there and back in a blue and xanthous teak saloon chair. “

On geting at the bride ‘s house, the groom ‘s party was met by the bride ‘s friends, who would non ‘surrender ‘the bride until they were satisfied by ruddy packages of money, ang pau from the groom ‘s representative. This was the juncture of much good-natured haggle before the two parties could make an understanding.

In some instances, the groom would take dinner with the bride ‘s household, and have a brace of chopsticks and two wine goblets wrapped in ruddy paper, symbolic of his having the joy of the household in the individual of their girl. In some parts, he would be offered sweet longan tea, two hard-bitten eggs in sirup and crystalline noodles. Another fluctuation was the groom ‘s partaking of soup with a softhearted egg, the yolk of which he was expected to interrupt, arguably symbolic of interrupting the bride ‘s ties with her household.

The Bride ‘s Journey to the Groom ‘s House

The ‘good fortune adult female ‘ or a dajin, employed by the bride ‘s household to look after the bride, carried the bride on her dorsum to the saloon chair. Another attender might screen the bride with a sunshade while a 3rd tossed rice at the saloon chair. Sometimes the bride was borne out in a wooden ‘cage ‘ with her pess padlocked – ; presumptively a leftover from rougher times with highly loath brides.

A screen, shai-tse, which would strive out immorality, and a metallic mirror, male monarch, which would reflect visible radiation, were suspended at the rear of the bride ‘s saloon to protect her from evil influence. The bride might besides attach a particular mirror to her garment, which she would non take until she was safely seated upon the matrimony bed.

Firecrackers were set off to scare away evil liquors as the bride departed in the saloon chair. The physical motion symbolized the transportation of the bride from her parent ‘s household to her hubby ‘s.

Great attention was taken to guarantee that no unfortunate influence would impact the matrimony. The female attenders who escorted the bride to her new place were chosen with peculiar attention that the horoscope animate beings of their birth old ages were compatible with that of the bridegroom. The saloon chair itself was to a great extent curtained to forestall the bride from unwittingly glimpsing an luckless sight, e.g. a widow, a well, or even a cat. Attendants scattered grain or beans, symbols of birthrate, before her.

Arriving at the Groom ‘s House

Once once more, bangers were set off merely before the emanation arrived. A ruddy mat was placed before the saloon chair for the bride lest her pess touch the au naturel Earth as she dismounted. All the family would be waiting to have her.

The bride was required to step over a saddle or a illuminated range to traverse the threshold, since the words for “ saddle ” and “ tranquility ” sound the same, ngan, and the fire would project out of evil influences. An attendant might instantly put a pile of rice in a screen over or near the bride. If the bride did non have on a lucky mirror, one might be used at this clip to blink light upon the bride. In some parts, a grain step and a twine of of Cu coins were laid out as amulets of prosperity.

After these rites took topographic point, the groom could eventually raise the ruddy scarf and position the bride ‘s face.

The Wedding

In contrast to the luxuriant readyings, the nuptials ceremonial itself was simple. The bride and groom were conducted to the household communion table, where they paid court to Heaven and Earth, the household ascendants and the Kitchen God, Tsao-Chun. Tea, by and large with two Nelumbo nucifera seeds or two ruddy day of the months in the cup, was offered to the groom ‘s parents.

Then the bride and groom bowed to each other. This completed the matrimony ceremonial, except in some parts, where both besides drank vino from the same goblet, Ate sugar molded in the signifier of a cock, and partook of the nuptials dinner together.

( See Besides: Contemporary Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony. )

The Nuptial Chamber

Immediately after the ceremonial, the twosome were led to the nuptial chamber, where both sat on the bed. In some countries, honey and vino were poured into two goblets linked by a ruddy yarn. The bride and groom took a few sips and so exchanged cups and imbibe it down. On the twenty-four hours of the nuptials ( and sometimes for the following three yearss ) , the bed chamber was unfastened to visitants, who were given to badgering the immature twosome with ribald comments.

The Wedding Banquets

By and large, separate nuptials banquets were given by the parents of the bride and the groom for their several friends and households. Even at the banquet, work forces and adult females sat individually. There could be a individual banquet for each or a series of banquets over several yearss. However, the most of import banquet was that given the groom ‘s household on the twenty-four hours of the nuptials. It was by and large considered as public acknowledgment of the brotherhood.

( See Besides: Contemporary Chinese Wedding Banquet. )


Day After the Wedding

On the twenty-four hours after the nuptials, the bride awoke early to go to honor the ascendants at morning. It was merely so that she was so officially introduced to the groom ‘s relations and friends. As she knelt before each of the older relations, she received a little gift. The bride ‘s parents-in-law gave her a rubric harmonizing to her hubby ‘s senior status in the household hierarchy.

Three Dayss After the Wedding

In general, three yearss after the nuptials, the twosome paid a visit to the bride ‘s household place, where the bride is now received as a invitee.

Contributed By: I. Rutledge


The application of antediluvian imposts in modern-day Chinese nuptialss is of great involvement of many of our visitants. The followers may be helpful in using Chinese traditions to modern-day nuptialss.

Choosing an Auspicious Wedding Date:

Auspicious yearss are capable to reading by luck Tellers that perform the analysis based on one ‘s birth day of the month ( twenty-four hours and hr ) after audience with the Chinese farmer’s calendar. Almanacs incorporating anticipations for the full twelvemonth are sold at the beginning of the Lunar New Year by street sellers and in book shops. These paper-back book books are about two inches thick with a wealth of information about Chinese beliefs. It is said to be the oldest uninterrupted publication known. Different versions are published in Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China, but unluckily an English version is non available.

In the Chinese community it is considered bad signifier if an person consults the farmer’s calendar and performs a self analysis. That is why a luck Teller or Fung Suey [ Feng Shui ] expert is consulted. They normally can besides supply horoscope information in progress of the publication of the farmer’s calendar.

The 15 twenty-four hours period from the center to the terminal of the 7th lunar month is considered unfortunate because that is clip of the Hungry Ghost Festival when the Gatess of Hell are opened and the lost liquors are allowed to inquire the Earth. They should non be invited to your nuptials!

July 28, 2017