29 July 2007

Setting the nuptial bed before getting married

In addition to the Scottish church one, we had our Taiwanese wedding on the 19th of July and then on the 21st the mega reception for 250 guests at the World Trade Centre Club, a venue on the 33rd floor of a building near Taipei 101, the so-far tallest building in the world.

Fanne and I have been back in Taipei since early July. It took us quite some time to put everything in the correct place before the wedding and reception in order to make sure our parents would be delighted. Among many marriage rituals and customs which we were desired to observe was bridal bed setting.

While there are a range of variants of bed setting ritual in different Chinese communities around the globe, one requirement common to all the variants should be choosing an auspicious date and hour by consulting the Chinese almanac or by engaging a Chinese astrologist to perform certain calculations. At the specified hour of the auspicious date (7.00 am, 16 July in our case), the bed, which has actually been purchased and laid in the nuptial room since a couple of days ago, will be moved into position, again, according to the result of astrological calculations.

In some regions the custom demands that a boy jumps on the newly-set bed to bless the bed with fertility, whereas in others people place additionally a red tray of dried food such as lotus seeds, lichees and longans. We did neither.

In our case, after setting the bed, my mum fitting the bed with sheets, blanket and pillows for me and my dad accompanied me for three consecutive nights. According to the custom in my family, there should have been a boy accompanying me so that this bed would always sleep two and Fanne and I would be an everlasting couple. It is customarily believed that if the groom-to-be sleeps alone in the newly set bed, either himself or his wife will die through misfortune. As we didn't, and couldn't bother to, find a suitable young boy, we just modified the tradition a bit.

Although Fanne would followed any our my parents' and other relatives' instructions, she firmly believed that a couple shouldn't even get married in the first place if they would attribute to disobedience of these rituals any potential marriage problems or failure in the future.

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