Chinese Wedding Traditions and Toast

The color red is used in a Chinese wedding signifying prosperity, love and joy. Similar to the color purple that is used at a Japanese wedding this is a central theme for the celebration. The red theme is displayed in so much as the gift wrapping for the gifts that offered to the bride prior to the wedding.

Red is displayed repeatedly in attire and gift wrapping. It is traditional for the Chinese bride to spend time in seclusion solely with her friends and family prior to the wedding. This enables the bride time adjust to the transition and mourn the metaphorical loss of her family and her friends.During the couples engagement the bride is showered with gifts in red paper, red baskets and red bags. These gifts are taken the grooms house where the bride and her closest friends will sort through the gifts and ensure the bride has possessions at the groom's house for after the wedding. The date of the wedding ceremony is carefully determines based on lucky astrological signs. As well as the date, the time is also crucial. Couples are married on the half-hour so the hands of the clock are to swing up instead of down thereby beginning their life with time swinging - up!

This is chosen carefully and is based upon the day and the hour of birth. On the wedding day more gifts are given to the friends and family of the bride in red tissue. These gifts are special and are from the groom to entice the family and friends to 'let the bride go'. The groom may play games with the female attendants and persuade them to let him in the door to retrieve the bride. The groom is dressed in the morning by his parents as the bride prepares with her friends and family. When it is time to leave for the ceremony, the bride and groom leave together. After the bride is prepared for the ceremony she traditionally bows to her parents and bids her 'good luck women' goodbye. Often the wedding ceremony is only attended by immediate family and close friends. There is usually a simplistic wedding ceremony with the bride and the groom paying homage to the earth and the heavens. The bride and the groom than bow towards each other and complete the wedding ceremony. The traditional tea ceremony may occur after the ceremony. During the tea ceremony the bride will serve tea to her new in-laws as this is a customary gesture in a Chinese wedding.

The tea serving is a symbol of respect as serving tea is seen as a respectful gesture. The bride serves the tea, holding the teacup with both hands alone, without the assistance of the groom. The reception is unique in the way that it is a stand-only event, often at more elaborate ceremonies there will a nine to ten course dinner served. The cutting of the cake begins like western tradition with the bride and groom cutting the cake and feeding each other but in accordance with Chinese tradition they also feed a piece of cake to each other parents and grandparents. At the end of the evening and guests are expected to shake hands again, before leaving the reception. This is the Chinese alternative to the receiving line.

A room for the bride and the groom is lit with a dragon and phoenix candle to ward off any evil spirits. The bride and the groom than perform the vow of drinking wine from two cups strung together with red string and their arms crossed from each other. This is the formal Chinese wedding vow - and binds the couple together. The day after the wedding the bride is expected to cook a meal for the groom and his family to show her ability to nurture. As the bride kneels before each relative she is given a gift.

The final session of the ceremony occurs three days after the wedding with the bride visiting the house of her family where she is now seen upon as a guest and treated as such.

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