One Chinese Wedding

13 09 2005

When I picture my wedding day, I see a calm reverent scene full of soft colors, soothing music and elegance. The wedding I attended on Sunday couldn’t have been shattered my image of what a wedding is more if they had been deliberately trying. The wedding I went to was loud, hectic at times, joyful and very bright. Everything was bright red! There were things that seemed similar to American wedding customs: white wedding dress, cutting the cake, exchanging rings, etc. but they were either done in such a way, or were juxtaposed next to something, that was so different that they didn’t really seem connected to the American version. It’s not that I think all American weddings are the same (for goodness sake! red, white, and blue wedding dresses are increasingly popular) but when seen next to the Chinese wedding I saw, American wedding seem cast from the same mold. One distinct difference was the complete (as far as I could tell) absence of any religious symbolism or reference. They did honor their parents and this was an integral part of the wedding on two occasions. Another significant difference was the portion before the actual ceremony. In this wedding, the groom preformed an elaborate process of picking up his bride: forcefully gaining entry to her home, singing and throwing red envelops of money into a window above her door, to be allowed into her bedroom (her and his friends also participated in this process, egging him on, and helping him get in), offering her the wedding bouquet, and then searching for her shoe before carrying her to the head car on his back. I don’t think anything like that ever happens in common U.S. weddings. I was struck by the joyfulness of the whole process. It felt like a journey really. The one moment that I truly felt like I was at a wedding was when the bride began to weep during the “ceremony” It’s so interesting how seeing a familiar custom performed in an unfamiliar culture can make you realize just how much culture affects our lives and our thoughts.




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