Introducing the Traditional Chinese Wedding
With wild acrobatic displays, magicians catching fish from thin air and performances of the popular cross-talk, you could be forgiven for thinking that you have been caught up in a wild circus. But the Chinese traditional wedding, as with all weddings, is filled with tradition and interesting customs that have been passed down through generations and developed over the centuries.
At a traditional Chinese wedding, the bride is often seen with a red veil covering her head and face. The Chinese red veil is made of a square piece of silk. This practice dates back to the Qi Period (479-502) of the Northern and Southern Dynasties. The veil was used by farmer women to protect their heads against cold wind or hot sunshine while working in the fields. It could be a cloth of any color and was big enough to over the top of the head. For its practical use and ornamental function, the veil was widely used. By the beginning of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the cover had become a long veil down to the shoulder. And it was no longer a mark of working women. Later, Emperor Li Jilong made a decision. He demanded that all maids-in-waiting in the palace add a piece of gauze to the veils to cover their faces. It soon became a fashion among the commoners but they made a difference to the cover's function. In those days, women's faces were thought of as a lure to men. A husband did not want his beautiful wife to attract other men. He wanted her to behave bashfully and appear shy. The wife readily accepted to wear the veil to show her loyalty to her husband. Gradually the veils became more popular among both married and unmarried women who were eager to demonstrate their virtues. Veils are not unique in China. Even today veils can still be seen in some other parts of the world. This custom lasted about a thousand years. During the later part of the Jin Dynasty (936-946), a veil became a must for a bride at her wedding. But the color of the bride's veil is always red as it is the symbolic color of happiness.
Wedding Sedan Chair
The traditional wedding usually begins with the 'jiaozi'. The chair-like sedan enclosed with red-colored silk was one of the main vehicles in the main vehicles in the ancient China. Of course, it was mainly used by the rich. The poor had to rely on donkeys or their own feet to travel, so the sedan chair was a symbol of affluence. On special occasions, such as a wedding ceremony, a sedan chair was used to take the bride to the groom's house, even for the poor.
In ancient Tang Dynasty, there was a student who was on his way to the capital to attend the national final examination, in which the top learners would be selected as the ministers in the court. Unfortunately, he fell ill half way when he passed through a mountain village. Thanks to a herbalist doctor and his daughter, he was taken to their house and treated well. He recovered quickly due to the father and the daughter's good care. When he had to leave, he found it hard to say good-bye to the pretty girl and so did she, for they had fallen in love. So the girl wrote down the right hand part of a couplet for the student to match. Unable to answer it right then, he agreed that they would wait until his exams finished and he could return before he could match the other half of the couplet. In the examination the young man won first place and was highly commended by the emperor. All the winners were interviewed and tested by the emperor. The young man was asked by the emperor to finish a couplet, which would need the right-hand part as the answer. As luck would have it, the young man realized immediately the right part of the couplet by the girl was the perfect fit to the emperor's couplet, so he took the girl's part as the answer without hesitation, The emperor was delighted to see the matching half of his couplet was so harmonious that he authorized the young man's appointment to Minister in the court and allowed him to pay a visit to his hometown first before holding the post. The young man met the girl happily at home and told her the emperor's couplet and soon after, they got married. For the wedding, the couple Doubled the Chinese character, HAPPY, written together on a red piece of paper and put it on the wall to express the happiness for the two events. And from then on, it has been taken on and become a social custom.