Teaching kids the joys of traditional Chinese matrimony

By Jack Aldane Source:Global Times Published: 2013-4-11 20:28:02

Weddings in China increasingly mirror those in Western countries, with everything from white dresses and tailcoats to embarrassing, innuendo-filled speeches becoming the norm. Chinese rom-com Finding Mr Right, released this year, is just one example of how such portrayals of modern matrimony are increasingly taken for granted in China.   

The event Let's Get Married, part of the Touching China series at Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, located in 798 Art District, Chaoyang district, invites Chinese families with kids aged 5 to 13 to hear speakers Ji Chao and Gao Jing deliver a talk on traditional Chinese wedding ceremonies this Saturday, April 13.   

The talk will explain the history of Han wedding rituals, though at the risk of foisting adult concerns prematurely on a young audience. Speakers Ji and Gao say their aim is to teach children about ceremonial etiquette, as well as attempting to answer how children enter life to begin with. Ji, 24, a teacher at UCCA, says the expected turnout (about 13 families, with tickets at 100 yuan each) shows promising support for the activity. He believes it will benefit the parents as well as the children in attendance.

Let's Get Married will be delivered in Chinese only, says Ji, due to a lack of events like it that offer information about traditional matrimonial values.

Ji says he doesn't think the talk brings up marriage prematurely, saying its importance in the education of young generations is long overdue.

"Weddings in China presently contain a lot of sexual innuendo and often play jokes on parents in attendance. Traditional Chinese weddings should be solemn occasions," he says.

Ji explains that even as early as the 1920s, wedding rituals in China began to imitate those in the West. Vows remained true to Chinese culture for some time, but even those started to fade with a spike in Christian weddings during the 1980s.

Ji says talks like Let's Get Married can strengthen cultural authenticity around marriage in China.          

"We aim to teach the children interesting facts, such as how a bride used to be valued at one wild goose. We also talk about how cutting and tying together a lock of hair with red string from both bride and bridegroom was once a keepsake of eternal union," Ji says.

An instructor in traditional social etiquette, Gao, 30, says he, too, sees nothing wrong with aiming the lesson at prepubescents. Gao says UCCA surveys indicate support from both parents and kids for introducing such concepts early on. He describes the lesson as a "foundation of ethics."

Ji says the event will mark "a starting point to sex education," a subject which calls for "simple, yet beautiful" answers.


Posted in: ARTS, Metro Beijing

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