China is an ancient land and it is one of the world’s four ancient civilizations. Its history dates back to 5,000 years. During the ancient times marriages were arranged in China between teen agers. The girls were usually as young as 11 or 12. Mostly the parents were too poor to feed the child and so she was married off early. The girl was sold to the parents of the bridegroom. She was supposed to spend her life as a slave.
Criteria for Marriage
In ancient Chinese customs, the criteria set for marriage was not love or affection between couples. The parents used to choose a girl which they deemed suitable for their son and used to select her. The girl would be of the same status as that of the boy’s family.
The Three Letters
There was the process of three letters before the marriage ceremony took place. The three letters included:
- The betrothal letter
- The gift letter
- The wedding letter
The Six Etiquettes
There was a process through which the marriage process was initiated. It used to include the following:
When the parents of a boy were interested in a girl they used to ask a professional matchmaker to go to the house of the girl with them. They would go along with the matchmaker to propose the parents of the girl. The custom demands that the matchmaker should not have tea at the house of the girl on his first visit.
Matching the Birthdays
Next the information about the girl is acquired; her date of birth is matched to that of the boy. Then the fortune teller predicts whether their marriage would be successful. The Chinese Zodiac is also given importance during the six etiquettes.
Presenting Betrothal Gifts
When the match is fixed between the girl and the boy, gifts are given to the girl’s family.
Presenting Wedding Gifts
Gifts are given by the bridegroom’s family to the bride’s family. These gifts are a symbol of respect and love for the girl. They also symbolize the promise of a good life for the girl.
Selecting the Date for the Wedding
The fortune teller decides the date which would be suitable for the marriage to be held. The fortune teller has a very important role to play in the Chinese wedding customs.
The last step in the process of the Chinese wedding before the wedding finally commences is the sending of the dowry to the boy’s house. The dowry is a symbol of wealth and status. It is put up for display at the boy’s house.
The Wedding Ceremony
On the day of the wedding the Bride is dressed in a beautiful red dress. An old woman helps her tie up her hair with colorful threads. The boy and his wedding party arrive at the house of the girl. The Chinese marriage customs are very similar to the customs that are applicable to many other Asian countries.