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									Ia. Three Letters
In the old days, all communication was through formal letters. Therefore, the letters play an
important role in the events.

        Request Letter
        This letter confirms the formal arrangement of a marriage. It is sent by the groom's family
        to the bride's family. This letter is normally presented with the initial gifts for the bride's
        Gift Letter
        This letter accompanies the formal gifts for the Bride's family. It is actually a gift list that
        records the description and quantity of the gifts.
        Wedding Letter
        This letter is presented to the bride's family on th day of the wedding. It confirms the act
        of bringing the bride into the groom's family.
Ib. Six Etiquette
The Chinese word for etiquette can mean both customs and gifts. The following customs are
known as the Six Etiquette

        Request for Marrying the Bride
        After the groom's family has spotted a young girl whom the groom wants to
        marry, the family will hire a spokeswoman who will communicate their wish to
        the potential bride's family. (In the old days, it is popular to hire elderly ladies as
        midwives or spokeswoman for the groom.) This lady will persuade the potential
        bride's family to accept the offer from the groom's family. Both sides will
        negotiate certain terms. If successful, both families will proceed to the next step.
        Request for Bride and Groom's Birth Dates
        This is the second step in arranging a marriage. Upon successfuly completion of the
        previous step, the groom's family will request for the bride's 'Eight Letters' through the
        spokeswoman. In Chinese calendar, there are 22 'letters' that we use to represent date.
        Ten are known as 'Tian Gan' and twelve are 'Di Zhi'. Two letters are used to represent
        each of teh following: year, month, day and time. Altogether, eight letters will accurately
        represent the bride's birthdate.

        After obtaining the 'Eight Letters' of the groom and potential bride, a fortune telling master
        will be hired to determine whether the two match each other. If there is nothing wrong
        with the bride's birthdate, the groom's family will proceed to the next step. Otherwise,
        there will be no further contact between the families and the groom's family may look for
        another suitable bride.

        Initial Gifts for the Bride's Family
        If the potential bride's birthdate is acceptable, the groom's family will request the
        spokeswoman to send some initial gifts accompanied by the gift letter.
        Formal Gifts for the Bride's Family
        The groom's family will pick a 'good day' and send the bride's family the following bridal
        gifts: gifts, cash, cakes and food and sacrifices for worshiping the ancestors. This act
        confirms the marriage agreement between the two families.
        Select the Wedding Date
        The fortune telling master will select a 'good day' according the the bride and groom's
        and their family's birthdates.
        Wedding Day
        On the big day, both the bride and the groom's house will be decorated in red. The
        groom's family will send out a procession of servants, musicians and a carriage which is
        carried by four servants to the bride's family to bring the bride back. The bride will then be
        brought back to the groom's house and the two will perform the marriage cermony
        witnessed by all the relatives and friends.

        The bride and groom will worship the heavens and the earth, the groom's ancestors and
        they will also serve tea to all of their superiors in the family. After that, the superiors will
        give them red packages (lai see) with monetary gifts and wish them well. The groom's
        family will then throw a huge feast (if they can afford it) for the friends and relatives to
        celebrate the wedding. All along, the spokeswoman will oversee the whole process and
        keep toasting the couple.

        After the meal, the newly wed couple will return to the bridal room and some naughty
        friends may tag-along and play tricks on the groom. When all is done, the couple will
        drink and toast and the spokeswoman will offer sweets and fruits to the couple to wish
        them long life and lots of kids (!). Then, the couple will finaly be left with themselves and
        the groom can take off the red cloth that covers the bride's face.

Wedding Day: picking up the Bride
On the day of the wedding, the groom will send a carriage over to the bride's family to bring the
bride home. The carriage is decorated in red and is carried by four servants. Musicians will
accompany the procession and they will play wedding music all the way. A lot of gifts are also
brought to the bride's family at the same time.

At the bride's home, the bride will put on her bright red wedding gown and the bride's parents will
give her jewelry to wear.

Bride Leaving Home
As the groom's procession arrives, the groom's spokeswoman will enter the bride's house and will
carry the bride on her back. The bride cannot touch the ground with her feet until she arrives at
the groom's house. In some regions, the bride's relatives will throw rice into the air, hoping that
the chickens around will eat the rice instead of pecking at the bride. Sometimes, a red umbrella is
used to shield the bride as the opening of the umbrella will symbolize her bringing many
descendants to the groom's family. As the bride leaves the house, her parents and her relatives
will bid her farewell as she rides the carriage and leaves home. Wealthy brides often have
servant girls who will follow her to the groom's family and continue to serve her. These maids are
known as ones who 'accompany the marriage'.

Bride Arriving at the Groom's Home
After the bride arrive at the groom's house, the couple will again worship the ancestors and
worship the heavens and earth. Then they will serve tea to the groom's family according the their
seniority and the relatives will give them red packets or bridal jewelry in return.

The Wedding Banquet
To celebrate the marriage, the groom's family will throw a wedding feast as large as they can
afford. In the old days, some villagers may use up to seven continuous days to entertain the
relatives during a wedding. Every night, delicious food is being served to all the guests.

Post Wedding Activities

The Bride Returning Home after 3 Days
Three days after the wedding, the bride is expected to return to her family. The bride will bring
along roasted pig and gifts for the family. Some regions require that the groom accompany her
while some didn't. Nonetheless, this is probably the last chance the bride gets to see her parents.
Therefore, she will bring along a lot of gifts for the family and she may even stay for a couple of
days or even more.

As a tradition, the bride's family will also return part of the gifts to the groom's family as a
courtesy. Some regional custom requires that the family should return the head and tail of the
roasted pig to the groom's family symbolizing the good beginning and end of the wedding.


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