Wedding customs: in China, the bride must cry

I’ve witnessed and heard about strange wedding customs but this one is, by far, the strangest of all. Or, maybe not.

In west Sichuan Province, the custom is called “Zuo Tang (Sitting in the Hall)”. Usually, the bride begins to cry a month before the wedding day. As the night falls, the bride walks inside the hall and weeps for about an hour. Ten days later, her mother joins her, crying together with her.; Another ten days later, the grandmother joins the daughter and mother, to cry together with them. The sisters and aunts of the bride, if she has any, also have to join the crying.

The bride may cry in different ways with diversified words, which was also called “Crying Marriage Song”; the somewhat exaggerated singing helps to enhance the wedding atmosphere. In a word, crying at wedding is a way by custom to set off the happiness of the wedding via falsely sorrowful words… [China Daily]

A bride who did not cry was looked down on and there have been cases when mothers beat their daughters for not crying at their wedding. Weird, huh? Well, every culture has its share of weird wedding customs.

In Sudan, a man must give the woman’s parents sheep or cattle to make up for the lost labor. In Sandakan, Sabah, bowel movement and urinating by newlyweds are believed to cause broken marriage, infertility, or death of their children at a young age. In some places in Africa, the honeymoon is often interrupted by virginity checks.

Then, there was Auee’s entry about a documentary about bride kidnapping in Krygyztan. It shocked many people — me, included — until I read that in Anglo-Saxon, Welsh and Arab cultures, the bride has no way of showing her chastity and modesty unless there is a “capture” to which she can resist.

Well, I bet that the brides of west Sichuan Province will find just as strange Filipino customs like pinning bills on the bride’s and groom’s clothes while they danced. Or even the practice of throwing rice as a symbol of prosperity. Just a few generations ago, there was the paninilbihan which, according to a wedding site, is still subconsciously being practiced today even in urban areas.

Paninilbihan is said to be a long forgotten tradition where the marrying man attends to some daunting chores for the family of the bride to show his worth, fortitude and responsibility. The fact is, it is still sub-conciously practiced by the modern Filipino society in a much simpler scale (thank goodness!). Since Filipinos parents prefer to see their daughter’s boyfriend pay a visit in the house than date elsewhere, he is more-or-less considered a part of the household than a guest. So it comes as no surprise when the family members ask simple favors from him such as driving the mom to the supermarket or fixing busted lights in the kitchen. Come to think of it, future sons-or-daughters-in-law are expected to run some simple errands for their would-be-in-laws if he/she seeks some approval. These little favors forms part of the paninilbihan process still deeply imbibed in the Filipino psyche. [Wedding Guru]

And let’s not forget the superstitions.

Brides shouldn’t try on her wedding dress before the wedding day or the wedding will not push through.

Knives and other sharp and pointed objects are said to be a bad choice for wedding gifts for this will lead to a broken marriage.

Giving arinola (chamberpot) as wedding gift is believed to bring good luck to newlyweds.

Altar-bound couples are accident-prone and therefore must avoid long drives or traveling before their wedding day for safety.

The groom who sits ahead of his bride during the wedding ceremony will be a henpecked husband.

If it rains during the wedding, it means prosperity and happiness for the newlyweds.

A flame extinguished on one of the wedding candles means the one on which side has the unlit candle, will die ahead of the other.

Throwing rice confetti at the newlyweds will bring them prosperity all their life.

The groom must arrive before the bride at the church to avoid bad luck.

It is considered bad luck for two siblings to marry on the same year.

Breaking something during the reception brings good luck to the newlyweds.

The bride should step on the groom’s foot while walking towards the altar if she wants him to agree to her every whim.

A bride who wears pearls on her wedding will be an unhappy wife experiencing many heartaches and tears.

An unmarried woman who follows the footsteps (literally) of the newlyweds will marry soon.

Dropping the wedding ring, the veil or the arrhae during the ceremony spells unhappiness for the couple. [Asia Recipe]

Ummm, okay… I tried on my wedding dress several times before the wedding and the wedding took place as scheduled. I wore pearls too — three strands of rice pearls — and I can’t say I’m an unhappy wife. Well, I guess that’s why they’re called superstitions.