In China, the traditional wedding ceremony is a long process which is called ‘three letters and six etiquettes’. The three letters are ‘the bethrotal letter, the gift letter, and a wedding letter.’ The bethrotal letter can be defined as the letter that tells the engagement. There must be a bethrothal letter in the marriage. The second letter, the gift letter, is the list of gifts for the bride’s family if the marriage is accepted. The wedding letter is the letter that is given to the bride’s family on the wedding day to show the acceptance of the bride to the groom’s family.
The six etiquettes is part of the process in the final wedding ceremony.
The Wedding Day
In China, color red dominates the wedding on the contrary to the white weddings of Western. Red represents joy and it’s the color of luck. On the wedding day, the bride wears a red dress, a pair of red shoes and a red silk veil. When she awaits for her future-husband to arrive and take her his home, she listens to the advice of an elderly woman for a good marriage.
The groom wears a long red gown, a pair of red shoes, too. He is escorted by his family and close friends to the bride’s house. When they arrive to the house, the bride’s family would be waiting for them at the door. They don’t allow the groom enter until he overcomes the challenges they prepared for him. He has to negotiate and convince them to let him enter the house.
When the bride is ready to leave, she cries with her mother to show her that she doesn’t want to leave. The bride is escorted out by her sisters and/or brothers. While they are walking out to the sedan that will carry her to her new home, rice is thrown. It’s very important to protect the bride from evil. That’s why they take precautions such as having curtains on the sedan so that the bride can’t see something unpleasant, or they set firecrackers to frighten away the evil spirits.When the bride arrives to her new home, the firecrackers are set, again, before she comes out of the sedan and a red carpet is put on her way.
Once the bride and the groom are inside, they bow three times at the altar to worship the Earth and the Heaven, and show their respect to their ancestors and families. Then they bow to each other and the ceremony begins in the bridal chamber.
Generally they would have grand feast for their guests and the people who helped them during the wedding process to show their respect and thank them. The newly weds are supposed to drink wedding wine while their arms crossed together. They toast for the guests and the guests wish them the best and present their gifts for the newly weds. The gifts are normally cash presented in red envelopes. On the third day of marriage, the couple go back to the bride’s house and they have tea ceremony. The bride and groom kneels down in front of their parents and the bride serves tea to her parents to show her respect.
Despite the western influences in the recent years, the traditional wedding ceremonies continue to be held in some parts of China. Traditions die hard. Isn’t it true?