Traditional Chinese Wedding Culture
Chinese pre-wedding customs are traditional Chinese rituals prescribed by the Book of Rites, the Book of Etiquette and Ceremonial (儀禮) and the Bai Hu Tong (白虎通) condensed into a series of rituals now known as the Three Letters and Six Rites (三書六禮). Traditionally speaking, a wedding that incorporates all 6 rites is considered a complete wedding 大娶. In this page, we summarize the top 4 dialects wedding customs in Singapore.
In the Hokkien dialect, the betrothal rite is known as sang jit-thau (送日頭) or its abbreviated form sang jit. Betrothal gifts unique to the Hokkien include pig trotters and rice candies.Household items are also given to the bride, symbolic of the duties she will assume as wife.
Among the most important return gifts for the Hokkien is a set of silver coins called (緣錢) or (大緣) and (小緣), given by the bride to the groom’s siblings. A Hokkien tradition is for the bride’s family to offer a spittoon replete with red dates, dried longans and lotus seeds, along with other sweets, sealed with red paper, as part of the dowry.
On the day of the wedding, the bride’s mother is presented with an uncooked pork leg, to show gratitude for her caretaking. The Hokkien traditionally incorporate sugarcane as a motif during wedding celebrations for protection; it is tied to the doorpost of the doorpost of the couple’s home and to the bridal carriage.This practice stems from a traditional legend in which Hokkiens were spared from a massacre by a Song dynasty emperor by hiding in sugarcane fields. Sugarcane also features a prominent role during the ninth day of Chinese New Year celebrations (marking the Jade Emperor’s birthday).
During the eve of the wedding ceremony, Hokkien families pay respects to the Jade Emperor, called in Thian-kong Hokkien (天公, lit. Lord of Heaven), to seek his protection. Six food dishes and five kinds of fruit are offered as well.
The foremost Teochew betrothal gift is the (四點金), four pieces of jewelry including a gold necklace, a pendant, a pair of earrings and a bangle selected by a groom’s mother and presented to the bride during the tea ceremony. Since 四點金 is also the name of a traditional Chinese architectural style, a four-pointed curved roof found in traditional homes, the jewelry symbolizes a blissful union in a secure home.
The Teochew also give flaky pastries similar to hopia, as well as peanut candies. If the bride’s grandmother is still alive, pastries called laoma gao (老嬷糕) are offered to her.
During the wedding rituals, Cantonese brides invariably don a 裙褂 , a highly embroidered red silk dress, which consists of a petticoat, adorned with the images of a 龍 (dragon) and a 鳳 (phoenix), and a long skirt.
In addition, the groom is expected to give a pair of matching 龍鳳鈪 (dragon and phoenix bracelets), which are most commonly made of gold, to the bride, and are to be worn during the wedding festivities. The dragon and phoenix motif symbolize a blissful union, as described by the Chinese phrase 龍鳳配 (a union of the dragon and phoenix).
On the third day following the wedding, the newlywed bride’s first return visit to her family home after marriage is called 歸寧. A 燒豬 (whole suckling pig) is presented to the bride’s family, who customarily will keep the pig’s body and return the pig’s head and legs, along with other gifts. Traditionally, a perfect suckling pig was offered as a sign of the bride’s virginity.
According to Hainanese Wedding Tradition, the Bride had to stay at her home for at least Three Days before married to the Groom. She will also had to remain at the Groom house for another three days before she return to her parent house.
As part of dowry, the Bride’s Parent will also provide home appliances for the newly-wed’s love nest building.