Every culture has their own set of traditions and rituals to follow when it comes to weddings. In Singapore, there are few common rituals and beliefs that Chinese couples have to go through, on top of selecting their wedding gown or bridal gowns for their wedding day. Read on to find out more!
Singapore Wedding Tradition 1: It Is Customary To Give Red Packets For Any Wedding Banquet
Unlike western cultures, where there is gift registry for people to buy and give the wedded couple, it is customary to give red packets to the wedded couple in Singapore. It is supposed to represent a form of blessing from the guest to the couple, but of course, there is an unwritten rule on how much you should put inside the red packet.
Usually, the ‘required’ amount of money is calculated at least 10% of the cost of a wedding table. The average ranges starts from $188 to $288 and of course, a restaurant from a higher tier will reflect a higher amount of money. In reality, it is almost like a way to pay for the seat you are occupying for the wedding but hey, the couple invited you for a good reason and definitely not because you are able to afford to cover the cost;)
Singapore Wedding Tradition 2: There Is A Betrothal Ceremony To Follow (For The Groom And Bride)
Most Chinese couples in Singapore go through this ceremony called the Betrothal Ceremony, also known as Guo Da Li. It is a formal occasion that symbolises the groom’s willingness to marry his bride and that he is ready to take up the responsibility of taking good care of her for the rest of her life.
Traditionally, the groom and an elder female relative who is known for having good fortune, will give the bride’s family a variety of gifts that symbolises prosperity. The gifts are usually placed in a traditional betrothal basket, which includes a can of pig trotters, hard liquor, traditional wedding cakes, oranges, jewellery for the bride, double happiness stickers, 2 pairs of Dragon Phoenix Candles and more. Of course, the type of gifts is very dependent on the dialect! For example, if you are a Teochew, you need to include Teochew goodies such as peanut candy, sesame candy, Lao Ma Ghor and bananas!
In return, the bride’s family has to display their acceptance of the groom’s sincerity by sharing a part of the gifts that were given by the groom. At the same time, the bride’s family will present the bride’s dowry to the groom’s family as a sign of wealth and prosperity, and a way to bestow happiness upon the marriage. The dowry usually includes items a dining set that comprises cutlery in pairs, a tea set for the tea ceremony at the groom’s home, a set of gold jewellery and more!
In the past, the ceremony is usually done on a separate date, which is determine on a specific date and timing for auspicious reasons. Now, these formal ceremony is usually conducted on the same day of the wedding. In fact, livestock (a.k.a live pigs/chickens) was given during the betrothal ceremony! Of course, this tradition is no longer as popular due to practical reasons and you can imagine how messy it will be!
Singapore Wedding Tradition 3: There is a Hair Combing Ritual
Fret not, scaredy cats! This is not some creepy tradition that comes with gore and blood. It simply represents the transition for the bride and groom, transforming from a girl to a woman, and a boy to a man.
Held on the night before the wedding, the hair combing ritual will take place at both homes of the bride and groom. The bride and groom have to first wash themselves with water that is infused with pomelo leaves. It is believed that it helps ward off evil spirits. After that, they have to dress themselves in a brand new set of pyjamas and undergarments and sit in front of a pair of dragon and phoenix candles (which will be part of the betrothal gift mentioned earlier). So why dragon and phoenix candles, and not some other (normal) animals? Apparently, they are believed to drive away evil spirits! Perhaps this was derived from some mythical origin but hey, it is no harm following the traditions right?
The person who is in charge of combing the hair of the groom and bride is usually a female who is recognised for her prosperous life (e.g. having a great fortune and a full family). She will then comb the hair of the bride and groom four times, which each stroke representing a certain meaning:
一梳梳到尾, –“May your marriage last for a lifetime”
二梳百年好合, –“May you be blessed with a happy and harmonious marriage until old age”
三梳子孙满堂, –“May you be blessed with an abundance of children and grandchildren”
四梳白发齐眉. –“May you be blessed with longevity”
Abstracted from Singapore Brides.
After the hair combing, the bride and groom will dig into glutinous rice balls (yummy!) to symbolise an everlasting marriage that will withstand through the good and tumultuous times.
Singapore Wedding Tradition 4: Auspicious Dates Play A Prominent Role In Deciding On The Wedding Date
Most weddings in Singapore are held on supposedly auspicious dates of the year, based on the Tong Shu. It is strongly believed a wedding date can determine the amount of luck, good fortune and wealth a couple can receive!
Having said that, the supposedly auspicious dates according to the Tong Shu may not be applicable for every couple! Why is this so?
If you have heard of 8 Characters (a.k.a Ba Zi), you would roughly know where we are heading to. See, every body has his/her unique set of 8 characters, and each element may be representative of something different from another person. This means that even though 2 people have the same set of 8 characters, each element may hold a different meaning to them.
The dates in the Tong Shu don’t take 8 characters into consideration as it only reveals the auspicious date in general. If you truly believe in selecting the best (and only the best) wedding date for auspicious reasons, then it is advisable to consult a geomancer on top of looking at the Tong Shu. Otherwise, you can stick the dates in the Tong Shu.
A word of caution is that usually these dates are considered hot dates and sometimes, the wedding venue might cost a lot more than its usual price! So be fast on booking your wedding venue before somebody else takes that slot!
Singapore Wedding Tradition 5: Being On Time With The Auspicious Timing
Have you ever been to a wedding when everybody is rushing the poor bride and groom to different places? And when you ask why, older folks will start to ramble talk about missing the auspicious timings and it will only bring in ill fortune if the couples were late for whatever?
That’s right, on top of the auspicious dates, there are auspicious timings to take note of! Of course, it doesn’t make sense to miss your wedding, but having auspicious timings means that you have to be absolutely punctual and keep moving. It is NOW or NEVER…literally.
Usually, there is a ‘good timing’ for the traditional rituals of a wedding, such as the hair combing ritual to the tea ceremony. Rumours are that missing the timing will have an impact of the blissfulness of the marriage.
That being said, to solely rely on auspicious dates and timings for a happy marriage seems like a far fetched idea. After all, communication is the foundation of a lasting marriage. Although, there’s an inauspicious timing to communicate, which is that monthly cycle women go through. Right?
Singapore Wedding Tradition 6: A Tea Ceremony Is Usually A must Have To Officiate The Marriage
In Singapore, not having a tea ceremony is deemed inappropriate! In Singapore, the tea ceremony is the tradition when the bride is formally introduced to everyone and be accepted into families. What happens during the ceremony is for the groom and bride to go to the home of groom’s family to serve tea and address the family members by their formal titles (e.g first uncle, second aunt) as a form of respect . After that, the groom’s family will accept the bride as part of the family and send their blessings for the marriage.
Once that is done, the bride and groom will return to the bride’s home for another round of tea ceremony to pay respects to her family. Of course, the tea ceremony is not complete without the tea ceremony dress (also known as the kua). This is the time when the bride slips into the tea ceremony dress to pay respect to her family.
You might be wondering that the tea ceremony is all about sipping that small cup of tea and that’s the end! If you have been thinking of that, well you are completely wrong.
First of all, the tea set, which is included in the dowry basket, is specially brewed from longans and red dates. The reason why they are used is because they supposedly represent the birth of children at an earlier stage in the marriage, while the sweetness of the tea symbolises the sweetness between the couple and their respective families.
Usually, the bride is positioned on the left of the groom before paying respects to the family members. The parents of the family will be the first to be greeted, followed by the relatives based on seniority! Male elders will be the first to be served as an indicator of superiority. In return, married and older relatives will return the gesture with a red packet. On the other hand, younger (and single) relatives will serve the wedded couple tea and you are required to give them a red packet as well.
In the past, it is told that ruining the sequence of the tea ceremony can sow discord within the two families. Although that is not proven, but there are certain traditions that should be kept that way and not be played with. Besides, there is no harm following a few traditions, as long as everyone is happy, right?
Singapore Wedding Tradition 7: Black Is Never A Colour For Weddings.
Black is almost everybody’s favourite colour, for it represents elegance and poise (and how it is so easy to match with anything!). However, when it comes to weddings and bridal gowns, it is a whole new meaning.
Although there are many young brides who wished they could adorn a black bridal gown for the wedding, it is frowned upon because of how it represents death and sadness in Asian culture. Bridal gowns in brighter colours such as orange, red, yellow and pink are usually favoured during weddings. Similarly, the décor of the wedding should not have any black colours as it supposedly has an irreversible effect on the wedding.
If your parents are extremely particular and conservative about the colours, then don’t bother attempting to change their minds about it. Besides, it is refreshing to wear a bright colour on your wedding! Just remember to pick the right colour that is suitable!
Do you know any more Singaporean wedding traditions that we have missed out? Share with us!
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