The Chinese Tradition of Marriage

By P Chong                                                                               Sat. 4 September 2010

The Chinese Character for Double Happiness

There are three events in life that the Chinese really celebrate:

  • marriage celebration
  • the birth of a child (full moon celebration)
  • Spring Festival (Chinese New Year)
  • Birthday celebrations are not a norm, except the landmark ages of 60, 70, 80 & all that . . . Celebration on the negative side will be in the event of “untimely” demise of the dear departed including Qingming Festival (All Souls’Day).

Red is Auspicious

Without order chaos exists. Even mechanical things work on a system, from a simple clock to the planetary system of the universe. If any part of the system should break down, the whole mechanism stops to function.

By the same token, it is true to say of the human society. It can only function properly with a system or order, otherwise chaos will prevail. This is a verified truism as exemplified by the way Chinese society is structured & conducted with particular reference to the question of marriage, which reflects the great importance attached to the concept of the family unit. The way the Chinese address their nation as their “national family” bespeaks the significance of the basic family as its core. Thus the way the individuals conduct themselves can make or break the hierarchy.

There is much to be said about arranged marriages in those days. Whatever your modern misgivings with ideals of love & romance, these marriages did come with problematic packages. The go-in-between and both the in-laws first investigated all details of the young man and lady in respect of compatibility with particular reference to their “animals” of birth, as whether it’s the year of the rat, cow, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat monkey, chicken dog and pig. It’s astrology of an unique kind. The West would refer it as consulting the stars. There is much truth in that the characteristics of the personality do spell out clearly by the animal year of birth. Taking such precautionary steps avoid the pitfalls of marriage.

Talking of surprised or problematic packages in marriages, brings me to mind of a fictional story. It could well be true beyond your wildest imagination . . . it’s so funny, ridiculous & amazingly laughable.

This is seriously Funny . . .

Two men met at a bus stop and struck up a conversation. One of them kept complaining of family problems. Finally, the other man said: “You think you have family problems? Listen to my situation.”

“A few years ago I met a young widow with a grown-up daughter. We got married and got myself a stepdaughter. Later, my father married my stepdaughter. That made my stepdaughter, my stepmother. And my father became my stepson. Also, my wife became mother-in-law of her father-in-law.”

Much later the daughter of my wife, my stepmother, had a son. This boy was my half-brother because he was my father’s son. But he was also the son of my wife’s daughter which made him my wife’s grand-son. That made me the grand-father of my half-brother.”

This was nothing until my wife and I had a son. Now the half-sister of my son, my stepmother, is also the Grandmother. This makes my father, the brother-in-law of my child, whose stepsister is my father’s wife, I am my stepmother’s brother-in-law, my wife is her own child’s aunt, my son is my father’s nephew, and I AM MY OWN GRANDFATHER!”

And you think you have FAMILY PROBLEMS!!!”

Moral: Order prevails, otherwise chaos assails.

One thought on “The Chinese Tradition of Marriage

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