Friday, December 23, 2011

Chinese Weddings

The premise of this trip to China was to attend a cousin's wedding, the first since when we lived in China.  In the two years we lived in Shanghai, we attended a total of four weddings.  

Chinese weddings have always been about the wedding banquet. John had always joked about weddings being a bad deal for us vegetarians, since it is customary to shell out enough cash as wedding presents to cover the cost of the meal.  This means for $100+ we get some beer or wine that's barely drinkable, scraps of vegetable cooked along with meat or seafood, some noodles or rice if we are lucky so we do not go home hungry, all in a loud and smoke-filled room.

To be serious, these were all young people (relatives and colleagues) we cared about and wished well for.  Why would we gripe about the food and expense?  What really disturbs me is the lack of meaning and tradition for wedding rituals.  Weddings are run by an MC who may be a friend or hired.  The MC directs the couple through a series of acts lifted from the west, such as lighting of candles, cutting of the cake, punctuated by speeches by a witness, a parent.... It is a poorly produced pageant show.

Four years of absence later, Chinese weddings have gone from pageant shows to game shows.  The pageant part has been significantly shortened.  Instead, there was much audience participation in Name That Tune, Price Is Right, and Lottery.  Between the heavy cigarette smoke and the love-to-hear-myself-holler MC, John was compelled to take a brief retreat outside, leaving me to contemplate the decline of Chinese civilization, wondering why China is supposed to take over the world?!


Crash Eddy said...

Bummer! Trying to emulate the USA is not the right path for China, eh?

Anonymous said...

1 bow to heaven and earth;
2 bow to ancestors;
3 bow to parents;
and husband and wife bow to each other.

i learned about these traditions in local plays when i was a kid. i think the new culture movement abolished them a hundred years ago.


Sun-Ling said...

I don't disagree that traditions can evolve, but going to games shows is too far.