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.

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