China is indeed home to one of the most colourful and intricate cultures in the world. Wedding traditions in themselves are already very beautiful to behold. But did you know that Chinese weddings are not just the wedding ceremony itself? Chinese weddings actually have 6 parts to it including the ceremony itself. And 5 of these parts are in preparation for the grand finale which is the wedding proper. Without further ado, here are the 5 traditional pre-wedding customs of a Chinese wedding.
The Chinese believe in the importance of auspicious dates. These are days said to determine the optimum time for an event to be conducted and have all the forces in the universe come together most auspiciously for any event planned for that day. And weddings, being life changing events in the lives of the couple should be selected with care to help bless the couple in their new life together. Things taken into consideration are the couple’s birthdates and times, and from there a date will be selected favouring the elements of the couple.
Once a date is selected, the betrothal will then be carried out. A betrothal in the strictest sense is the agreement between two families to marry their children as an act of uniting the families. In western cultures, this can be an approximate equivalent of the engagement party. During this time, the families exchange gifts of symbols that will further bless the couple on their wedding day. Traditionally, this is the time the bride’s family receives the “bride price” or a sum of money seemingly in exchange for the bride.
The bride’s dowry, are a set of gifts bestowed by her parents upon her to start her off in her new life as a married woman. Most of the gifts she receives are household items like beddings and the like. Although, along with these, she also receives symbolic gifts blessing her with fertility, children and prosperity.
The Bridal Bed
The bed where the couple is to spend their first night as man and wife is installed or prepared by a woman of good fortune. Mind you, this also has to occur on an auspicious date. She will then adorn the bed with red sheets for good fortune and love, and will place several plates of symbolic fruits and a few other trinkets which is to imbue the bridal bed with good fortune so the bride may conceive quickly.
The Hair Combing Ceremony
The last of the pre-wedding traditions or rites is the hair combing ceremony. This takes place the eve of the wedding where both the bride and groom will bathe in water infused with pomegranate leaves. They will then change into new clothes and shoes and will be seated by an open window with a visible moon. The females of the family will then gently comb their hair whilst being blessed aloud. They are to be blessed with eternal love, harmonious marriage, multitude of children and longevity.