Chinese weddings in the Philippines are marked by special rituals. The Chinese traditions are often combined with Philippine wedding traditions as well. For instance, although red is considered the lucky color among Chinese, there is no longer a stigma against wearing a white wedding gown, Western style.
Chinese families usually prefer to have their children wed Chinese. The compatibility of the bride and groom are determined by their horoscopes. Their version of the Philippine pamamanhikan is called kiu hun. Here, the future groom and his parents visit the house of his intended bride to formally ask for her hand in marriage with a gift basket of round fruits for good luck.
Auspicious dates for the engagement ritual and the wedding are chosen based on the bride’s and groom’s birth signs. In addition, there are other considerations. The 7th month in the Chinese calendar (tsit ghe or approximately August to September in our ordinary calendar) is generally considered unlucky since it is the “Ghost Month.” Should an immediate family member of the bride or the groom pass away during the engagement period, the scheduled wedding should be reset within 100 days from the time of death or until the mourning period of the family is over.
The engagement ritual, called tin hun, is usually held between 9 and 10 o’clock in the morning. There must be 6, 10, or 12 people to represent the groom, with an equal number representing the bride’s side. These are the only people whom the groom can invite, but the bride can invite as many guests as she wants. The groom may bring gifts such as ang-pao (envelopes with money), jewelry, flowers, cookies, fruit cocktail, canned pork leg, tea, Dragon and Phoenix cakes, poultry, sugar, wine, tobacco and other items that are considered auspicious. In return, the bride’s family may give gifts of food and clothing and may even offer furniture and appliances to the groom.
The bride walks backwards towards the groom, assisted by a happily married older aunt or friend. Once the bride is seated, red or orange juice is served.
A tea ceremony takes place, in which the man carries the tray while the woman serves the man’s entourage. Then they switch roles and serve the woman’s side. Aside from tea, the guests are served misua, sweet tea soup with two eggs, two tang kwe (sugared cantaloupe strips), and two ang cho (red dates).
The man and one of his representatives drive around the block of the woman’s house twice, bringing two cakes with the names of the couple on them.
Tsinoy couples usually avoid getting entourage members whose animal birth sign clashes (chong) with their own. A person is "chong" with another if their Chinese birth signs are six years apart (i.e. pigs are "chong" with snakes).
The role of the groom’s family
The groom’s family is expected to provide the following:
- The matrimonial bed and a dresser for the bride
- Red silk cloth for the mirror that the bride’s family will provide
- An even number of sets of clothing or fabric to be made into dresses for the bride. The number four is avoided as in Chinese the word sounds like the word for death. The groom is responsible for picking up the bride’s gown and accessories from the designer and delivering them to his bride.
- The ang-pao to be given to the groom’s entourage on the wedding day
The role of the bride’s family
The bride’s family give her ke-cheng (dowry)--household items or other things that her parents want to give her. They must also provide the following:
- 6 to 12 pairs of shoes with matching bags for the bride
- A mirror to be covered with red cloth provided by the groom
- Two red lanterns that will be placed on the ceiling above the bed and coins to be attached to the back of the bed frame
- Two flower vases with artificial flower arrangements, and two lamps for the bedside tables
- Tea leaves with silver coins inside two red envelopes to be given to the groom’s side when they transport the ke-cheng, which will be arranged by the bride on the matrimonial bed
- The ang-pao to be given to the bride’s entourage on the wedding day
Before the ceremony
Before the ceremony, which will depend on the family’s religious beliefs, takes place, the following rituals are observed.
- A combing ritual performed by the bride’s father on his daughter to remove the bad luck she might bring to her new family
- Old Chinese coins with red thread are sewn by the bride’s mother on the hem of the wedding gown. A coin sewn onto red silk cloth is also taped to the soles of the bride’s shoes to ward off evil spirits
- The bride should not put on any real jewelry for the wedding ceremony, as it might weigh her down and affect the couple’s life together. She can wear real jewelry to the reception, except for pearls, which signify tears
- The bride should also avoid carrying a handkerchief, because that would mean that she will cry for the rest of her married life.
After the ceremony
A tea ceremony is also performed after the wedding rites. The groom’s side prepares the same things that the bride’s side prepared during the engagement. Guests throw tea leaves and coins for luck and prosperity.
The following practices are done to ensure the couple’s fertility.
- Pregnant women not allowed near the matrimonial bed or the couple.
- To ward off evil spirits and to ensure they have a son right away, a young boy born in the year of the dragon rolls on the couple’s bed three times
- Married couples give advice on how to have a baby boy right away
After the reception
For three days after the wedding, the bride must stay with the groom’s family and cannot go home to visit her family. On the third day, the groom brings her to the home of her parents, who will treat the couple and the immediate family of the bride to a lauriat lunch. Also, for the first three days of her married life the bride should wear all red throughout the day to attract luck and drive away bad spirits. In addition, the red cloth on the mirror must remain there until the couple has returned from their honeymoon. The two red lanterns must remain lit until the woman gets pregnant.
- http://www.eyp.ph/complete.jsp?page=680&content=2007/0226_tsinoy.html Going to the chapel Tsinoy-style