I love weddings! Beautifully dressed people, flowers, tears of joy, and overall good food and lots to drink. I have been to numerous Chinese weddings (including my own) to know the importance of throwing a big show for all the family and friends to see. The performing artists are, of course, the bride and groom.
If you attend a wedding in Shanghai you will usually be invited to a large dinner banquet, and, as Western style weddings are most popular nowadays, enjoy the following ‘performances’ while eating a multitude of dishes: exchanging wedding rings, a champagne glass tower, lighting of candles, cutting the wedding cake, and of course, several speeches by the groom’s dad and the groom’s boss. In between, the bride changes her dress, hair-do and make-up at least two to four times.
While I always found that most of the adopted Western wedding traditions lack certain knowledge of their background on the Chinese part, and that the guests usually keep on munching, drinking and talking without paying great attention to them anyways, I had the opportunity to experience a set of Chinese wedding traditions I hadn’t seen before.
Last weekend I attended a wedding banquet in a small village in Anhui province. First of all, it was a lunchtime banquet and was held in the groom’s parents’ house. After finishing lunch, a visit to the bridal suite was encouraged to inspect the new furniture there and the wedding picture album. I was surprised to find red colored peanut shells strewn onto the bed. Supposedly the couple is to present the peanuts in the morning (to whom I have no idea), which then are supposed to be crushed.
All walls of the room were plastered with posters of fat half-naked baby boys. No problem imagining what this should point to.
But what does a live chicken do in the bedroom of two newlyweds?!
I asked my husband and MIL, but being from another part of China, they had no idea about this custom. In any case, my son enjoyed the sight of a live chicken immensely and did not want to leave the room.
The most hilarious part of the more or less dull wedding ceremony was when the chicken escaped from its box, jumped onto the bed and was pursued by the groom’s screaming mother.
Weddings are fun!