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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Chinese wedding

Saturday morning my host family and I wake up at 6 in the morning, and drive to the home of the bride and groom. Basically I have no idea what was happening during this entire morning adventure. Since my host family was apart of the wedding party they were doing a lot to help prepare for the wedding itself. So my host dad rented a nice car to take the bride and groom to the wedding. So we picked up the car and driver and had it taken to get flowers put on it at the flower shop. Then we had balloons put on all the cars that would be behind the bride and groom’s car, which included my host family’s car. Next we did a lot of waiting. The tradition in China is that the groom is to go and collect the bride from her house. I found out later that we were just waiting for her to prepare: get dressed, put on make-up, and get her hair done by her friend. So then the bride, groom, and the best man and bride’s maid (not quite the same as in America) pile into the rental car. They are mainly there to assist the bride and groom on whatever, namely holding things, opening doors, etc.). The best man was my host brother. Okay, so then we all drive to a nice hotel. This is where the wedding is to take place. Oh I forgot that at one point while we were all waiting for the bride to ready herself, we stopped and had noodles for breakfast at a nearby restaurant.

So then all of the guests while waiting for other guests to arrive go down to a tea room to drink tea and play mah jong or cards. At one point, my host brother’s cousin who is staying with me during the day so I don’t get lost or confused, invites me to go to the main floor. She doesn’t speak hardly any English, so I just followed along the entire day not really sure what was going on. Anyways, we arrive on the main floor and I see that the bride and groom are greeting the guests as they walk in. The song that we play at the end of the wedding ceremony is playing in the background. Lewis, my host brother, is holding a tray of cigarettes and red matches. The bride’s maid is holding what looks like miniscule gift boxes. So when a guest comes in the groom shakes his hand, Lewis gives the man two cigarettes, the bride lights one of them, and the bride’s maid gives the woman two gift boxes (which I found out contained candy). Giving two items is to indicate that the couple is now two, and it is a sign of good favor in a marriage.

After several hours of mah jong, we all go into the restaurant part of the hotel. There is a sign that says wedding, a cake, and some champagne glasses. It basically looks like the set-up for a reception. We are all sitting around and drinking juice, and the bride, groom, Lewis, and bride’s maid process in together. The bride and groom go to the stage at the front. There is a young man on the side that is announcing something so that everyone hears. I believe he is announcing some wedding vow or something because at one point the bride and groom take a microphone and say one sentence. Then they exchange rings. After this the bride and groom are given some glasses and we all toast to them and drink. Next the bride and groom present some flowers to the groom’s parents. Then the groom’s father gives a speech. Then we all start eating. The room fills up with the smell of cigarettes and bai jiu (a strong liquor in China). The bride and groom, and the mother and father each go around to all of the tables and toast everyone. After everyone has eaten more than we could ever eat, we all leave and go across the street to a place to play mah jong and cards and drink tea. We stay here until about 6 or 630 and then go back to the hotel to eat dinner, which most people just pick at. My host family and I left around 7 or so, congratulated the bride and groom, and then went to say hello to my host mom’s college classmates who were having a reunion. Then we went home. WOW. That was the longest wedding celebration I have ever been to. It was really interesting and fun, but the fumes from the cigarettes were really starting to make me sick after so long. I took some pictures of the wedding day, and are posting them to the Windows Live account. Oh and we didn’t even eat the cake, which I found to be a little disappointing. The cake is one of my favorite parts of a wedding. Lol. The children enjoyed putting their faces and fingers into it, though, which was really funny and adorable.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Katie! I printed out all of your postings and read over them this past weekend. It's so interesting to see the similarities and differences between China and Japan. Japan has become much more westernized over the years, but they still have those hole in the floor toilets, but not very many. They also use beans and bean paste for desserts, and their desserts are not nearly as sweet as many of ours are. No handshaking, though - maybe in big cities when they meet with westerners, but not normally. In fact, one day when we were driving down the road, there was a field trip and one of the kids came running up to our car, held out his hand, and said "handshake", shook my hand and ran off. Okinawa follows a lot of Chinese traditions because of the trade routes way back in the day, and because they were ostracized by mainland Japan for years. They are also really into cartoons - even older adults used hello kitty pads and pencils and whatnot. And, the girls wore very short uniforms!

    Glad that you are enjoying yourself and are so open to a very different culture. You are perfect for the job! Your host family looks so nice. Loved all the pictures! How big, exactly, was that buddha? Wow!!

    I gave Cash a kiss for you yesterday -he came running over at 100 m.p.h.!

    Take care! Laura from next door.

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  2. I would have been looking forward to the cake too! Even though it was a very long day, it sounds like you had a blast!

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