CHINESE TEA CEREMONY TRADITIONS EXPLAINED

QI PAO 旗袍 / CHEONG SAM 長衫

Dating back to the 1920/1930s, this traditional dress was once a distinctive attire worn by the Chinese upper class or socialites at the time.This single piece garment has been modernised over the years and highly accentuates  the silhouette of one’s figure whilst staying traditional.

QUN KWA 群褂

The Qun Kwa is a two piece garment more popular within the Guangdong province of China. It comprises of a loose jacket and a skirt that are usually heavily embroidered and embellished in gold threads, pearls and sequences. They are commonly made in the colour red and gold which are both colours symbolising luck and happiness for the auspicious occasion and usually embroidered in patterns of the Dragon and Phoenix. The Dragon and Phoenix when placed side by side symbolises the ideal balance of yin and yang of the groom (dragon) and bride (phoenix). Sometimes there maybe other symbols such as lotus flowers or peonies symbolising beauty, fertility and prosperity or other animals such as  goldfishes, birds or butterflies representing good pairing, luck and wealth. Traditionally, the bride would also don a red cloth over head and covering her face from the groom until after marriage, however nowadays, brides would instead wear beautiful gold head or hair pieces.

CHINESE WEDDING DECORATIONS 大喜裝飾

Usually the characters “囍” ( 雙喜 - sèung héi -meaning double happiness) are decorated on the doors, walls and other furniture throughout the house of both the bride and groom. Betrothal gifts, dowries, toiletries and cosmetics of the couple will often also exhibit red decorations with these words.

On the front doors of the two household, red banners with sayings such as "The perfect marriage with bountiful love” or "A harmonious family with an abundance of fortune and luck" are also placed to announce this joyous event.

 

RED PACKETS 红包

During the tea ceremony and wedding day, red packets are usually given as gifts to the married couple along with gold jewellery and other valuable ornaments. We have a range of beautiful red packets available for purchase.

CHINESE BETROTHAL CEREMONY / GUO DA LI 过大礼

The Chinese betrothal ceremony or Guo Da Li (过大礼) is the important formal tradition that unites the bride and groom's side of the family. It is an assurance from the groom's side of the family in taking the bride's hand in marriage and that she will be well looked after and taken cared of. The process itself usually occurs a couple weeks before the actual tea ceremony or wedding (usually 2-4 weeks prior) and chosen on auspicious dates. Depending on which dialect group you are from, the variety of gifts presented may differ but generally includes gifts such as suckling pig, oranges, red packets, dried or canned seafoods, oranges and various other fruits , dried fruits and seeds to the brides side of the family. In return the Hui Li (回礼) from the brides side to the groom includes gifts such as watches, cufflinks, pants, suits cakes etc.  To find more information on the Guo Da Li, click here.

EVENTS OF THE CHINESE WEDDING

On the eve of the wedding ....

HAIR COMBING CEREMONY

On the eve of the wedding, a hair combing ceremony is usually conducted after the bride has showered and changed into a new set of clothing (usually red pyjamas). The bride  will usually sit in front of a mirror or open window facing the moon as female relatives bless them with the following sayings:

  • 一梳、梳到尾 : with the first combing, be blessed to be together to the end

  • 二梳、百年好合 : with the second combing, be blessed with a hundred years of harmony in marriage

  • 三梳、子孫滿堂 : with the third combing, be blessed with a house full of children and grandchildren

  • 四梳、白發齊眉 : with the fourth combing, be blessed with longevity

Following this ceremony, the bride must then drink a sweet dessert soup made from pink glutinous rice dumplings also known as 湯圓 tòng yùhn to wish the couple a complete and sweet marriage.

On the day of the ceremony...

 

PICKING UP THE BRIDE​​

When the groom and groomsmens arrive at the bride’s house, they will typically be prevented from entering the house by the bridesmaids. In order to proceed, the groomsmen and groom must partake in a series of ‘door games’ devised by the bridesmaids usually involving creative, rowdy and sometimes messy obstacles or tasks they must complete . The groomsmen and groom must also provide ‘door opening’ red packets to the bridesmaids as part of the process. Once complete or when the bridesmaids are satisfied with the tasks, the door  is opened for the groom to meet his bride. The bride and groom then worship the Heavens, Earth and Ancestors before partaking in the tea ceremony process with the bride’s side of the family according to their seniority.

BRIDE AND GROOM LEAVING THE HOUSE

Once the tea ceremony is complete on the bride’s side, the bride is expected to leave the house without saying goodbye to her family nor look back at them as she steps out the door. A matchmaker, auntie or unmarried bridesmaid usually holds an red umbrella to shield the bride until they reach the groom’s house. As they are leaving, the bride’s relatives may throw rice, red/green beans onto the umbrella as a symbol of good luck and protection from evil spirits.

Items required

  • Red Umbrella 

  • Rice, red beans or Green beans

ARRIVING AT THE GROOM'S HOUSE

When the bride and groom arrive at the groom’s house, they will also have to worship the Heavens, Earth and Ancestors prior to meeting the groom’s side of the family.  The tea ceremony will then be conducted to the groom’s side of the family according to seniority.