Marriage custom in Hanchuan in ancient times is basically the same as the whole Han nationality, but also has unique local customs, with procedures from engagement to pick up the bride roughly as follows:
Engagement is to make two families be on intimate terms, but there is the saying that “Just as that it does not rain without clouds in the sky, it is impossible to get married without a matchmaker”, therefore, it is a must to “bring two parties together through matchmakers”; inviting a matchmaker is also known as acting as a matchmaker, matchmaking of a matchmaker is also known as bringing together, and matchmaker is also known as maiden matchmaker or the god who unites persons in marriage.
There is no age limit for engagement, so some children become engaged soon after birth, which is known as “horoscope test”. Engagement stresses perfect match, i.e., the man and woman shall have basically the same economic, political and social status, the man may be one percent elder than the woman, who shall not be one year old than the man, and those with the same ancestry shall not get married. During engagement, the man shall present jewelries, clothes, and cakes and sweetmeats to the woman as memory to get engaged, and the woman shall fill in the “age card” of birth date to present to the man.
When the man and woman grow to manhood and are about to get married, the man shall present fruit tea for the Spring Festival holidays and other holidays to the woman two years before, and the “three teas” refer to teas presented in Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, and Spring Festival.
Select a good time. The date for the man and woman to get married is generally a even-numbered day, there is the saying that “Making a fortune can not do without eight”, so the good time is mostly selected to be the 8th, 18th or 28th day; the date to get married is known as wedding date, and after the wedding date is determined, the man begins to present gifts to and notify the woman, feed pig for the wedding, and make furniture, and the woman begins to prepare hoops, boxes, blankets, and bed-curtains, etc, relatives will pick up the woman to have the “meal for stopping being a child”, before the woman getting married, neighbors of the village will present gifts, and the woman will present wedding cakes and rock candies to every household when returning to her mother’s home for the first time.
Pick up the bride. The whole process of picking up the bride lasts for three days; in the first day, the butcher is invited to kill the pig for wedding, after killing, the matchmaker is invited to drink the blood, and discuss the quantity of meat, fish, wine and food to be presented to the woman. In the second day, the man sets up the hall for wedding, decorates with lanterns and streamers, and the antithetical couplet for wedding is taken from the Book of Changes – Copulative (the First Volume), comparing combination of the man and woman to combination of heaven and earth, which is real just right. During the day, mean, fish, wine, cakes and sweetmeats, and clothes are presented to the woman. Boxes and wine jars are sealed with red papers, indicating the word of “XX Ujiie”. Formal dinner begins in the morning, and the matchmaker among guests is the most distinguished guest for the man. The man will worship forefathers at night, during which the master reads and two misters hold, accompanied by side drum, cymbal and bamboo flute, which push the warm atmosphere of wedding to a new high. The man holds a banquet to accompany ten brothers or friends, and the woman holds a banquet to accompany ten sisters, with the custom of bride crying overnight. The third day is to fetch the bride; after have a simple meal in the morning, the bridal sedan chair is lifted, to the accompaniment of gongs and drums, and firecrackers, to the bride’s family to “take the bride”, and the bride’s family has the custom of closing the door tightly. The bride says goodbye to relatives and mounts the sedan, and brothers of the bride help to carry the sedan to walk out of the village to show politeness. After arriving at the man’s house, the bride’s sedan goes round for three circles, gives a salute, the bridegroom opens the sedan and gives a salute, the couple perform the formal wedding ceremony, an old woman guides the bride to the bridal chamber after the fancy candles go out, they give a salute, drink cross-cupped tea, and the relatives accompany ten wives of brothers at night after drinking the wine. Late at night, boxes are opened held by the bridegroom’s father and mother, chopsticks and Shengzi (measuring vessel in the past) are placed inside boxes, which means to have a baby quickly. To early morning of next day, there is the custom of the bride serving the relatives with a cup of tea.
Nine days (or three days) after wedding, the bride returns to her mother’s home for the first time, which is known as “first mothering”. Thus the wedding comes to an end.
Above customs have been eliminated, it now focuses on thrifty wedding, and many outmoded conventions and former customs of waste and extravagance are being abolished.