Written by John Wang, revised by Janet Behnke
Have you ever attended a Chinese wedding? When I talk about Chinese weddings, so many things come to my mind. I have probably attended over 20 Chinese weddings.
Chinese people love the color red. Is it because of the revolution? No. We have loved red for a very long time. You can find lots of red colors in the Forbidden City. We think red can bring us luck and riches. At a Chinese wedding you will find almost everything red! I know westerners do not wear red wedding dress, but in China, red wedding dress is traditional. The bride will wear a red dress, red shoes, and a red veil or headpiece. Try to think why Coca Cola sales are better than Pepsi in China. It is because of the red color!
In Northern China, the wedding starts in the morning, and the bride has to get up very early, around 4:00 a.m. She puts on her wedding dress and waits in her parents’ home. The groom comes to pick up her at 9:18, 10:18 or 11:18. Why 18? It is because all Chinese people love the number 18 very much. It means you are going to be rich! Most grooms arrive at 9:18 a.m. or 10:18 a.m. It is not easy to enter the door, because bridesmaids and other friends will make it very difficult to see the bride. They do this so that the groom will remember how hard it was to get his wife and that he should treat her well in the future.
If you are invited to a Chinese wedding, don’t forget to bring the Hongbao, which is the traditional red envelope to put in money. How much will you put in? It depends on how close you are. Usually it will be from 200 -1000 Yuan. But remember, it must be a red envelope, not a white one. If you bring a white envelope, your envelope will be very bright among all the red ones.
“Xinren” means the new Chinese couple feeds each other dumplings with red chopsticks. Sometimes, the red chopsticks are tied together by a red rope which means to be together. Then the groom will take his bride to their new house which is usually from the groom’s parents. There will be four different kinds of things placed on the bed which include dates, peanuts, longans and lotus seeds. Are these for eating? No! They have special meanings. We call these four things dazao, huasheng, guiyuan and lianzi, which becomes the word “Zaoshengguizi. It means you will have a baby soon.
The bride sits in the bed for a while, then it is time to go to the restaurant. Most of the friends will be waiting for the Xinren there. In the restaurant, all the tables are round, which means united with people working together and helping each other. There will be eight or ten people in one table, never nine. Chinese do not like odd numbers, because they are not lucky. Remember this!
After a 40 – 60 minute wedding ceremony, the Xinren start to toast everybody at the wedding, which could be 100 people, and even as many as 200. Can the groom really drink that much? No, he will toast you with water in the bottle of white wine which we called Baijiu. I got in trouble when I was a best man for my best friend because I served him white wine instead of water by mistake. I still remember his strange face when he said to me: ”It was white wine, John!” I’d like to forgive myself, because there are so many people to toast, I felt sorry for the guests who drank water for the wedding toast after paying 200 Yuan!
Click http://www.thechineseclassroom.com to learn Chinese via Skype with our teachers.