I have to admit, since I have spent time living in rural China in a small village with my Chinese parents-in-law I have got very indifferent towards weddings there.
If you would live there, you might understand why.
Every single day at least some one gets married there. Sometime I ask myself where all those people come from? Are there all from that village or do they come here to get married? Because, honestly, there should be a time where everyone in the right age is married… Apparently not. Not in Niuji village, where there is a wedding everyday.
In the beginning I always got excited when Jin told me, we will be eating at a wedding. I say eating on purpose, because that’s the only think we and everyone else does there.
A typical wedding in Niuji lasts for about two days. On the first day the groom and the whole male side of the family goes to worship the grandfather (no not the grandmother, she doesn’t need to know her grandson is getting married). The whole day you hear firecrackers exploding, and see people eating. If there’s a wedding, the food is for the whole village. That’s why many times we end up eating at a wedding not even knowing who the bride and groom actually are. But no one cares, there is free food… On the second day you have the actual wedding. No big ceremony, just some firecrackers, and a bride dressed in a white borrowed wedding gown for about ten minutes (then she always changes into her street clothes), followed by food.
Maybe you already noticed but I am not very impressed by those weddings in Niuji. They have lost all meaning. The few traditions that are left, most people couldn’t even explain what they are for anymore. Weddings in Niuji are more like a business arrangement. So far I have not met a single person who deeply fell in love with the future husband/wife to be, and married out of this love, and not out of obligation towards the parents. They don’t call them arranged marriages anymore. No, they are more sophisticated than that now. It’s an arranged meeting of two similar people, where both families agree they are a match made in heaven. In theory, both girl and boy, have the choice to decline the other person. But if you are of a certain age (like 22 for girls and 24 for boys), the pressure to get married is overwhelming in Niuji village. Many people actually leave the village to escape the pressure. But whoever is stuck, gets married off very quickly, often believing it was out of free will…
So, yes I am not really into the weddings there. They are all the same, and no one dares to do anything different out of fear to lose face in front of neighbors and family. My wedding was very similar, and I still haven’t gotten over it (that’s why I don’t feel like writing about it, yet).
However, last time I was back at my parents-in-laws house, something new (or old, depending on the view point) happened. I just stayed for a week, and had already eaten at five different weddings, but one morning my father-in-law came running up the stairs to our room screaming we have to get outside the girl from the hair salon is getting married. I thought he was drunk, how else could he get so excited about a wedding in Niuji village.
When I came out, and pushed my way through the crowds of people, I saw it. A wooden rectangular box on two thin log poles, the top and four sides of the box were enclosed with curtains, with a chair blind that could be rolled open in the front and a small window on each side: A bridal sedan chair.
The only sedan chairs I have seen so far in China were tourist attractions to reenact the ancient Chinese wedding ceremony or to be used as a photo prop. This was the first time I have seen an actual very old Chinese bridal sedan chair in use. And it was beautiful.
Interestingly I wasn’t the only one fascinated. A huge crowd, bigger than the usual one (not bigger than the one at my wedding though) had gathered; taking pictures and videos. It seemed, for them it was as special as it was for me. Maybe the last sign of the old traditional times. And maybe the only traditional item left.
The bride was wearing a white western wedding gown…
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