Monday, September 28, 2015

Yessi & Brad Marry...Again!

Married in America, April 20, 2014!  To be married in China, October 30. 2015!  Brad and Yessi's  Chinese wedding day draws near.  As our departure approaches, I'm busily researching Chinese weddings.  Yessi continues to assure me the rules don't apply, exactly, to us.  Hum…  Given that Yessi's mom has been selecting the right people and activity dates by the Chinese calendar, together with birthdates and other means I'm not familiar with, I'm pretty sure she could feel slighted by us or embarrased by us if we get it too wrong.  And then there are the uncles, six of them.  I'd hate to displease them.

Before I even get on the plane, I'm fretting about being out-of-step with what I've chosen to wear at the wedding.  Although I have the required red dress (well, actually, a tunic) it will have an under-dress that is black, plus my shoes are black.   Yessi has given me her seal of approval, but as mother of the groom, I fuss.  I do, fortunately, believe that my advanced age and foreign roots will shield me.

Yessi's cousin (the bride) and aunt delivering candy boxes

Yessi's cousin is getting married a month before Yessi, so they are well into the swing of wedding festivities. In this photograph they are dressed and ready to deliver the invitations, personally, to every guest in Xiamen.  The wedding party and relatives will help, but still, that's a lot of deliveries and all after a very large lunch gathering and wearing very high heels.  These deliveries consist of little bags or boxes of candy, along with the invitations. 



Yessi and Brad depart for China this Friday, October 2.  On October 10 they will be delivering their Candy Boxes, well before we arrive in China.  Darn, I would have loved to participate in this sweet ritual.  Although, I guess it would have meant another red dress purchase.

Chinese gift-giving is very interesting, overlaid with strong traditions and superstitions.  In reading about the do's and don'ts I realize how really weird Ed and my gift of a Klepper to the wedding couple must have seemed to Yessi.  I can just hear her silently saying, "R E A L L Y ?"  But she graciously said, "Thank You!".

Traditionally, in lieu of wedding gifts, guests give red envelopes holding money equivalent to a nice gift.   The rule, according to my reading, is the gift, at the very least, is enough money to cover the guest's expense at the wedding.  Also, the amount of the gift is relative to the guest's relationship with the bride or groom -- the closer the relationship the bigger the gift.  How much is enough and how much is too much I have not yet discovered.

I found lists of gifts not to give as well.  My research shows variations in these lists from source-to-source, but always with a great deal of overlap.  Here are ten gifts to avoid:  
  1. Clocks -  the sound of a clock sounds like the funeral ritual.  They also symbolize time is running out; therefore, the end of the relationship or of life.
  2. Handkerchiefs - the Chinese word for handkerchief sounds like a farewell greeting.
  3. Towels - towels are given out at funerals.  Gifts should not bring out sad memories of funerals or death.
  4. Umbrella - offering an umbrella means you want to end your friendship.
  5. Knives or scissors - sharp objects symbolize that you want to sever a friendship.
  6. Cut Flowers -  yellow Chrysanthemums or any white flowers are given at funerals so are a reminder of death.
  7. Gifts in sets of four -  the Chinese word for "four" is too close to the sound of the Chinese word "death".  
  8. Shoes -  the word shoe sounds similar to break up. Also giving two shoes says you want them to  leave, thus, ending your friendship.
  9. Green Hats - a green hat refers to the phrase in Chinese implying a man’s wife is unfaithful. 
  10. Anything black or white - has a funeral connection. 

I find this all very interesting, but I can also see pitfalls at every turn.  I will keep reading, hoping to  reduce my blunders.   Despite, the potential snags, seeing and experiencing such a monumental occasion in an unfamiliar culture is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I'm swirling in anticipation, excitement and pleasure.

And, in the meantime, I'm having fun thinking about Brad and Yessi looking like this…

Yessi & Brad

We have a good-sized group going to the wedding:  In addition to Ed and I, also attending are Greg & Deb, Steph & Paul, Joe & Nancy, and Lisa & Aaliyah -- good friends all!   I am almost beside myself thinking about the wonder and honor of having all of these dear people at Yessi and Brad's Chinese wedding and visiting China with our family.  I feel deep gratitude.

We're sad Brad's dad, Barry, and his wife, Susan, cannot make it.  Susan's health does not allow for long distance travel and having Barry that far from home is of too much concern.  We will miss them both but will keep them showered with photographs.

Another fun activity underway is I've been busy gathering together gifts to distribute to Yessi's family.  Made in America, or at least not Made in China, is proving to be a challenge.   Keeping the weight down, and the cost modest, are challenges as well.  My package of gifts so far is about a foot square and weighs 10 pounds, at least.  Our island thrift stores have been  fabulous sources for little trinkets to tuck into the gift bags I've created.  Jams, honey, lotions and coffee, made on Whidbey Island, have been another wellspring.


"Life has taught us that love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction."

~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

1 comment:

  1. Hint: Chinese people revere, respect, and honor age. My gray hair got me to head tables and sitting positions next to highest ranking individuals. They give gifts back also. Your suit case will be full on your return flight also.

    Wish we could be there.