Monday, November 1, 2010

Actual Day / Tea Ceremony (迎亲/ 出门)

Gate crashing, tea ceremony and eating glutinous rice balls are common rituals to be performed on the actual day of a customary Chinese wedding. Do you know the significance behind these meaningful practices?

Gate Crashing

On the actual day of a customary Chinese wedding, it is common to have the bride's female relatives or friends blocking the entrance to the bride's home. These friends, known as "sisters" or "jie-meis", pose challenges to prevent the bridegroom from seeing the bride. In the ancient days, the bride and the groom were not allowed to meet each other before their wedding day. Hence, gate crashing was actually a test of sincerity and commitment of the groom towards the marriage.

In order to impress his parents-in-laws and win the approval of the bride's jie-meis, the groom will need to complete the difficult tasks set out by the jie-meis. Usually, he will have to give the jie-meis "ang baos", or red packets containing money, as bribery. After much joy, fun and laughter, parents of the brides will then give instructions to allow the groom into the house to pick up his bride.

Some bridal couple exchange ring and vows when the groom meet the bride for the first time on that morning. Their friends and relatives will witness the small ceremony.
After all the difficult challenges, the brides parents will welcome all the groom's group by serving glutinous rice balls ('Tang Yuan') to everyone, and giving angpow to the grooms group ('Heng Tai'). The bride and groom will feed each other the glutinous rice balls using their special set of bridal bowl which has been blessed during the Bed Setting Day ('An Chuang'). Some families serves Long Life Noodle (Mee Suah) with two eggs instead of glutinous rice balls to the bridal couple.

During the pick up, father of the bride will have to escort his daughter to the wedding car using a red umbrella. And the bride and groom shall arrive to the groom's house before the auspicious time ends.

Tea ceremony

The tea ceremony is a one of the most important parts of a traditional Chinese wedding. During the ceremony, the bride and the groom will pay respect to their parents and elder relatives by serving them tea on the knees. It is also a gesture to express their appreciation and gratitude to the elders. In return, the elders will give ang baos (red packets) as a blessing to the newly-wed.

The tea served is usually brewed with longans and red dates. The sweetness of the tea symbolizes sweetness in the marriage and harmony between the bride and her new family. In addition, longans is known as "gui yuan" in Chinese. The Chinese word "yuan" means round, complete and full. Hence, adding longans to the tea signifies a complete and blissful marriage. On the other hand, red dates is called "hong zao" in Chinese. "Zao", the Chinese word for dates, has the same pronunciation as the Chinese word for "early". As a Chinese idiom goes "zao sheng gui zi" (to have a baby early), red dates in the tea represent the elders' wishes for the newly-wed couple to conceive soon.

Eating Glutinous Rice Balls

Glutinous rice balls, or "tang yuan" (remember that the Chinese word "yuan" means round, complete and full), represents a happy and fulfilling marriage. It is also a common belief among the Chinese that the newly-wed couple will be blessed with abundance and good luck after eating "tang yuan" during their wedding ceremony. In addition, it is hoped that sweetness of the glutinous rice balls will bring sweetness and bliss to the marriage.

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