Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Chinese Wedding

This past weekend one of my co-workers and I were invited by a student to attend her cousin's wedding. Here are the grand events throughout this day.

First we were picked up by the student's parents who didn't know English, but she wrote us a note explaining the day to us. We then arrive at the wedding shop a little after 10 am which is where the couple takes pictures before the wedding, and the bride gets her wedding dress, hair and make-up done on the wedding day. All of her family and friends that are female are sitting and watching her get ready. She is then finished and we go to her parent's apartment where we leave to go eat lunch at this incredibly fancy restaurant. The food was good, and we were able to talk a little with the bride's brother who knew a little English.
Then the bride leaves by 12 to go get ready for the groom. She hides her shoes which he must later find.

Then we go back to the apartment and we had to eat this good luck dish that was the consistancy of steamed play dough with a red bean flavoring in the middle. It was in kinda a vinegar caramel sauce. I choked on the first one because I ate it in bites and not whole, the next one I stomached ok, and the third one I was like forget it, this is entirely disgusting. There were four dough balls, but I couldn't eat the last one without gagging... so much for good luck :)

The groom then comes to the bride's home with the bride's boquet and calls out to the bride's family on the balcony may I come up? and they call down what do you have for us? or something to that affect and he gives money gifts in a basket that has been let down by a string, the money envelopes are dispersed and he asks to come up again and they say no, and he comes and bangs on the door, he goes back down and gives more money, and then the people on the balcony say... how much do you love her, etc... do a dance to show your happiness, etc... so he does everything and they say so that he can come up. After wards he bangs on the front door with all of his relatives they finally let him in, but the bride is in a bedroom with the door locked, then he bangs on the bedroom door, where 3 questions are asked by the bride "Who will wash the dishes? Who will clean the house? Who will bear the children?" to which the groom replies I will... so then after a while and more words of love they let him in and he has to find her shoes which she has hidden... he gives them to her, then they have a ceremony of honor to the parents, and the parents give them money and then the couple bows and offers them a ceremonial tea. Then the groom carries (piggy backs) her down the stairs and the courtyard to the car caravan, which all the cars in the procession are decorated with bows and flowers and we drive in the city to let people know of their wedding. We then stop at the new apartment and have the same ceremony for the groom's parents.
Then we stopped at a park and took a lot of pictures. Jeana and I were in them as well--- the more people in the pictures the better the luck. After driving around all of Kunming and stopping at 2 parks to get pictures we then arrive at the hotel where we are told that dinner will be (4 pm) at 6 we tell our student that we need to leave, but she acts offended and asks us to please stay for dinner which should start soon, which we find out later starts at 7pm. So then we are at this incredibly fancy hotel waiting for dinner for 3 hours just sitting talking and laughing trying to stay awake while the family and wedding party scatter til the ceremony. Finally at 7 the dinner and wedding ceremony start. The bride and groom come forward and then a ceremony is said, honoring of parents, etc... They then take a bottle of wine and with a pyramid of wine glasses begin to pour wine in the top glass and the wine spills into the other glasses beneath it- this is symbolizing their eternal love. Then a few more words are said and the ceremony is finished. All the time the guests are eating (which despite the fanciness of the hotel, the dishes served were the worst I have had here.) We finally convince our student that we must leave by 8. Hooray we are driving back to the apartment- home never looked so good.

It was really cool to see all the traditions and how they have been passed down for so long here, and the reasoning behind all of it.


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