Chinese wedding door games

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A groom drinking from a translucent red water bottle.
A groom is made to drink an unpleasant concoction by his bride's aunt, just before receiving his bride at her family home, in a public housing apartment in Singapore.

In Chinese communities, especially in China,[1] Hong Kong,[2] Malaysia[3] and Singapore,[4] wedding door games are challenges set up by the bridesmaids for the groom as a ceremonial demonstration of the groom's love for the bride.[5] These games typically take place in the morning of the wedding at the bride's family home, before the groom is allowed to receive the bride in the bride's room.[6] The groom typically receives the help of his groomsmen in completing the tasks.

Common games include the consumption of unpleasant foods,[7][8] answering of questions pertaining to the bride and the bride and groom's relationship, and performance of song and dance.[7] Negotiations are commonly made regarding the bridesmaids' demands, accompanied almost always by bargaining concerning the red envelope offerings to the bridesmaids.[5][6][7] These games originated in ancient Chinese folk customs,[9] and have been elaborated on in modern times.[4]

These games are distinct from the practice of nàohūn (; "creating turbulence") in China, sometimes confusingly also known as wedding games, in which the couple, particularly the bride, is teased by their guests during or after the wedding.[10]

Naming

Door games are known in Chinese in mainland China as "games with which to receive the groom" jiēqīn yóuxì (游戏) or "games with which to block the door" dǔmén yóuxì (游戏).[1] In Hong Kong, the process is known in Cantonese as "playing with the groom" (新郎; wan4 san1 long4).[11]

In Malaysia, these games are called heng dai games, after the Cantonese word referring to the groomsmen (兄弟; hing1 dai6; "brothers"),[3] while in Singapore, the process is known as the wedding gatecrash.[4][5]

Typical components

Before the games start, the groom and groomsmen must first pay a fee in order for the bridesmaids to open the door. It is common for the groom and groomsmen to prepare red envelopes filled with cash that they use to negotiate with the bridesmaids who guard the door. These amounts are usually in multiples of auspicious numbers, such as the number 8 that signifies wealth, or 9, that signifies a long-lasting union. Groomsmen often will carry ample amounts of red envelopes and try to negotiate with the bridesmaids as to the amount of red envelopes that is required before they agree to open to the door. [12]

Door games usually include the consumption of unpleasant or strange food or drink.[1][4][7] In particular, grooms are made to consume foods that are sour, sweet, bitter and spicy (酸甜苦辣; suāntiánkǔlà; "joys and sorrows") in succession, to signify his resolve to weather the joys and sorrows of marriage with his partner.[1] Bitter foods used for this purpose include bitter tea[13] and bitter gourd,[14] while spicy foods include wasabi and chilli padi.[13] In addition, declarations of love through words, songs and poems from the groom may also be requested.[1][15] It is not uncommon for door games to also include physical tests, such as push-ups,[8] and cross-dressing, especially in Malaysia and Singapore.[13][16]

Contemporary opinions

Singapore

Wedding door games are an opportunity for grooms to demonstrate their resolve and commitment, which some brides appreciate.[5] The practice is also seen by some as a valued tradition and a rite of passage.[13] Wedding games may also add to the fun and excitement of the wedding.[13]

However, the prospect of these challenges may induce anxiety in grooms before the wedding.[13] In addition, many couples are becoming disillusioned about the meaning provided by such games, noting that the games are humiliating and labour-intensive to prepare.[8][17] Some couples set boundaries on the games, such as excluding sexual elements.[13] One wedding photographer estimated in 2016 that roughly 20% of Singaporean Chinese couples do away with such wedding door games, even while retaining the other elements of a traditional Chinese wedding.[8]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e Zhao, Biqing (2016-02-14), "整蛊新郎 婚礼堵门游戏和接亲问题" [Tease the groom: Wedding door games and questions], Sina Fashion (in Chinese), China: Xinhuanet Co, archived from the original on 2017-09-14, retrieved 2017-09-14 
  2. ^ Hong Kong Weddings, Hong Kong, October 2011, archived from the original on 2017-02-24, retrieved 2017-09-14 
  3. ^ a b Teh, Kai (2017-01-08), Malaysian Chinese Wedding Game Tradition Have Grooms-men Gulping Worms, Malaysia: World of Buzz, archived from the original on 2017-01-13, retrieved 2017-09-14 
  4. ^ a b c d Lim, Kimberly (2016-11-06), "Wedding gatecrashers: Putting love to the test by eating Nutella from a diaper", The New Paper, Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings, archived from the original on 2016-11-13, retrieved 2017-09-14 
  5. ^ a b c d Leong, Huan Chie (2011), Understanding Marriage: Chinese Weddings in Singapore (PDF), Singapore, retrieved 2017-09-14 
  6. ^ a b Zhao, Lucy (2015), "Rituals and the Life Cycle", in Zang, Xiaowei, Understanding Chinese Society, Routledge, p. 31, ISBN 9781317422969 
  7. ^ a b c d Xia, Yan R; Zhou, Zhi G (2003), "The Transition of Courtship, Mate Selection, and Marriage in China", in Hamon, Raeann R; Ingoldsby, Bron B, Mate Selection Across Cultures, SAGE, p. 245, ISBN 9781452237695 
  8. ^ a b c d Lam, Lydia (2016-03-09), "More Chinese couples say 'I do' to intimate weddings", My Paper, Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings, retrieved 2017-09-14 
  9. ^ Tillman, Margaret M; Tillman, Hoyt C (2015), "Modernizing Tradition or Restoring Antiquity as Confucian Alternatives: A View from Reading Wedding Rituals in Contemporary China", in Alitto, Guy, Contemporary Confucianism in Thought and Action, Springer, p. 83, ISBN 978-3-662-47750-2, doi:10.1007/978-3-662-47750-2_6 
  10. ^ Guo, Diandian; Koetse, Manya (2016-04-15), China's 'Naohun' Tradition: Are Wedding Games Going Too Far?, What's on Weibo, archived from the original on 2017-09-05, retrieved 2017-09-14 
  11. ^ 如何玩新郎而不失面子 [How to tease the groom without losing face] (in Chinese), Hong Kong: BigCouple.hk, 2016-05-23, retrieved 2017-09-14 
  12. ^ http://www.chinese-wedding-guide.com/fetch-the-bride.html
  13. ^ a b c d e f g "Bridal games that Singapore grooms play", The Straits Times, Singapore, 2013-05-12, archived from the original on 2017-01-16, retrieved 2017-09-14 
  14. ^ "5 Gatecrashing Ideas For Your Wedding". Perfect Weddings. Singapore. Retrieved 2017-09-15. 
  15. ^ Viknesh, Tashya (2016-09-28), Hilarious Games For Groomsmen At Chinese Weddings, Kaodim, retrieved 2017-09-14 
  16. ^ Hew, Lee Yee (2015-02-10), 8 Heng Dai Games That Are Popular For All The Wrong Reasons, Malaysia: SAYS.com, archived from the original on 2017-01-24, retrieved 2017-09-14 
  17. ^ Joanne, Poh (2017-01-04), "4 Things to Cut Out of Your Wedding if You Want to Save a Significant Amount of Cash", MoneySmart.sg, Singapore: Catapult Ventures Pte Ltd, archived from the original on 2017-01-15, retrieved 2017-09-14 

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