Lady in Red: A Chinese wedding!

Last weekend, I had the exciting opportunity to attend my first Chinese wedding.  It’s something I’ve been excited about doing since I arrived here a year ago. Our neighbor (who is also our invaluable colleague and helper) got married. We were so happy to celebrate with her!

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Some interesting Chinese wedding traditions & observations:

  • Traditionally, the women’s parents do not attend the wedding because the woman is leaving her family and joining the groom’s family. Today, more and more brides (especially in the cities) have their parents at the wedding. The bride’s parents did attend this wedding and her father walked her in and presented her to the groom–similar to what we are accustomed to at Western weddings.
  • In another influence from Western culture, more brides wear white wedding dresses as opposed to the traditionally-styled red dress. In spite of this, the bride will often change into a red dress.
  • Wedding pictures are often taken at various locations before the wedding, similar to what we do for engagement photos, only the bride and groom wear various formal attire (wedding dresses, colorful formals, etc. I think the outfits are often rented.)
  • The wedding itself might seem a little bit more like a reception, centered around a meal and taking place in a hotel ballroom. There is an announcer who MCs the event (quite loud and energetic–think of the guy who introduces the basketball players at the beginning of the game).  I’ve heard vows are not always said (perhaps a simple question of “will you marry this person?”), but our wedding did have something similar to Western wedding vows. (Or so I was told. I basically understood the part where the bride said I love you.)
  • The day of the wedding is strategically chosen by a variety of factors according to the Chinese zodiac calendar. I’m not sure exactly how this works, but I do know it takes into account the bride and groom’s birth years, as well as days that are considered lucky. Apparently all of 2015 is both a bad year to get married and a bad year to have children. That’s unfortunate. (Pun intended.)
  • As part of the ceremony, the bride and groom have to call their new in-laws mama and baba (mother and father), until they do so satisfactorily. Then they receive a gift from the parents.
  • After the ceremony, the bride and groom walk around to each table and toasts all of their guests.
  • The event is quite colorful. Some even have fireworks indoors. We didn’t have fireworks, but a screensaver that gave a simulated look of them at times.  Not quite as exciting, but I’m sure I’ll have plenty of other opportunities to see and hear fireworks living in China 🙂

**Yes, I do remember I have a blog. I’m planning on weekly updates this year, so if I don’t do it you can keep me accountable.**

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Beijing bellies and bunny ears

 

I look at the window at the crowded streets and sidewalks.  I can spot men with shirts rolled up to expose their bellies to cool them off in the sweltering sun. They call it the “Beijing belly.”  Apparently during the Olympics, they tried to discourage the Beijing belly as a form of impolite behavior, but alas, the tradition continues on.  And it hits me, once again.  I live here.  I live in China.  I’m not here on vacation (even though my current residence is a hotel) or for a semester abroad.  I’m here for two years…and perhaps much longer.

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There are moments when the sights and sounds of China seem overwhelming.  I know those moments will come and go, with some days being far more overwhelming than others.  I’m sure there will be times when I think, “did I really move to China?”  Okay, let’s be honest, there are times when I’ve already thought that. 

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But then yesterday, we had some English students take us around the city.  As we talked with these two students, my heart overflowed with joy.  And I was reminded of why I’m here.  To see their faces.  To hear their stories. To be a part of their lives. And of course, to stealthily capture some photos of the Beijing belly. 

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And yes, I’m wearing bunny ears.  They are pretty cool.