Saturday, October 26, 2013

Traditional Chinese Marriage

Traditional Chinese marriage is a ceremonial ritual within Chinese societies that involves a marriage established by pre-arrangement between families. Chinese culture allowed for romantic love but monogamy was the norm for most ordinary citizens.

In traditional Chinese thinking, people in "primitive" societies did not marry, but rather, had sexual relationships with one another indiscriminately. Such people were thought to live like animals, and they did not have the precise concept of motherhood, fatherhood, siblings, husband and wife, and gender; not to mention, match-making and marriage ceremony. Part of the *Confucian "caviling mission" was to define what it meant to be a Father or a Husband, and to teach people to respect the proper relationship between family members and regulate sexual behavior. They also believe that a good wife makes a good husband. There is also a rule that arranging a match relies on the parent's order and on the matchmaker's word. A male who was not married by age 20 and a female who was not married by age 15 was considered disobedient to parents; and their parents would most likely be laughed at by the neighbors.

Cicero said, "Custom will never conquer nature, for it is always she who remains unconquered."   In traditional society, the rich were usually not monogamous.  The number of concubines was sometimes regulated, which differed according to the man's rank. Emperors almost always had multiple royal concubines. Female concubines were treated as inferior and expected to be subservient to the wife  (if there was one). Women who were not married in a large, formal ceremony had less right in the relationship and could be divorced arbitrarily. They generally had a lower social status or were bought as slaves. Women who had eloped may have also become concubines since a formal wedding required her parents' participation.

In Chinese tradition, a Ghost Marriage is also a marriage in which one or both parties are deceased. Other forms of ghost marriage are practiced worldwide, from Sudan to India to France even since 1959.  The origins of Chinese ghost marriage are largely unknown, and reports of it being practiced today can still be found.  Chinese ghost marriages were usually set up by the family of the deceased and performed for a number of reasons, including: the marriage of a couple previously engaged before one of them died; to integrate an unmarried daughter into a patriarchal-lineage; to ensure the family line continued; or to maintain that no younger brother was married before an elder brother.

There are still some mysterious marriage traditions in China. However, now marriage traditions are changing a lot and there are laws to regulate behavior that contribute to the stability of the country.

*Confucius lived approximately 600 BC.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

DRAWING LOTS on Baby's First Birthday

Drawing lots is a traditional Chinese birth celebration. It is held on a baby's 1st birthday to predict the baby's future, career and interests. It is also a way to express good wishes for a baby's prosperity. As a kind of family game, drawing lots is a way to exam if infants are well educated by their mothers.

On that day, parents put some goodies in a row or in a circle in front of a baby. Goodies usually include  a pen, a dictionary, a ruler, money a seal, a counting frame, a soccer ball, among other things. Each object has different meanings. A pen is believed to be related to a writing career. A ruler represents a lawyer. Money represents wealth. A seal is the symbol of an official or civil servant. A counting frame (abacas) represents a businessman.

It is generally believed that the items the baby grasps indicate his interest. For example, what Qian Zhongshu, the great Chinese scholar and writer of Fortress Besieged, grasped on his first birthday was a book. So his father named him Zhongshu, which means love for books. And coincidentally he read countless books all his life. In a book called Guanzhuibian he quoted more than 10,000 books, 2,000 of which were written in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Latin. 

While drawing lots, attention must be given to some things. First, items for the baby to grasp must be of similar size and color so that the baby will not be disturbed. Second, parents must not guide the baby. In other words, what the baby grasps should be of his own free will. Third, the baby can only grasp twice and the items should all be new to the baby. They can't be familiar things. Fourth, the celebration should begin before lunch; and usually consist of noodles, which means living a long life in China.

In ancient times, people regarded this tradition as a prediction of the baby's future; perhaps because people believed that one's interests lead to what one will be. Nowadays, people just do it for fun to celebrate baby's first birthday. It has gradually become a tradition for Chinese people.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

National Day of China

The Chinese are presently taking a week-long vacation in celebration of their national holiday. The People's Republic of China (PRC) was declared and established on October 1, 1949. Unlike our one-day Fourth of July, the Chinese government permits 7 days off for celebrating its birthday.

During the national holiday last year we took a wonderful trip along the Silk Road beginning at Urumqi and ending in Xi'an. We're excited this year because we sent Lily on her very first airplane trip to Urumqi with a large tour group to enjoy her first trip along the northern Chinese Silk Road. We're looking forward to talking to her about her experiences and seeing her photos.

Got a letter from one of our students who is "celebrating" just like most college students do:

How’s it going? It has been a long time since you left China and we miss you often.
As you possibly know that October first is the National Day of China, which we have looked forward to from the beginning of this semester. Do you know why? Because we usually have seven days off for celebrating our National Day!
In fact, we don’t do special things on the day except that the government arranges a series of performance such as the military review, the raising of the national flag and so on. However, it is an absolutely good chance to get relax from study or work during the long holiday. Some people like taking a trip, some people prefer to visit relatives, and others would like to stay at home relaxed. As for me, I prefer to stay some undisturbed places watching movies on the computer, learning a new song or just skimming through a book.
Again, this time I did not go home, for my hometown lies far away from here and I will go back home in winter vacation. Sometimes I miss my parents very much, so I call home frequently. And I have got accustomed to staying at school during all kinds of small vacations. Moreover I have a good time here. Yesterday, some of my friends, who come from the same senior middle school as mine but different campuses of Shandong University, came to visit me. We had lunch together, and we talked a lot .It was very pleasant. We had great fun that day!
That is what I am doing—enjoying my holiday! O(_)O ~~ We miss you a lot!

PS: I’m sorry if I have made grammatical mistakes in this letter. And would you mind helping me point it out? I cannot thank you anymore.