Wedding traditions and superstitions are rooted in our cultures. If you are Chinese or marrying a Chinese person and planning a Chinese-American wedding, you might need to know about the wedding superstitions that are more than just “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue”.
Chinese wedding traditions and superstitions have more than 2,400 years of history, and some of them have evolved over time to fit the modern world. As we all hope for a happy marriage, we might want to follow some of these traditions for good luck.
To save our couples from the headache of digging all the dos and don’ts at their weddings, we have collected the 10 most important wedding superstitions in Chinese culture for you to follow.
1. Wedding Dates: Lucky and Unlucky Months
Choosing a lucky wedding date is probably the most important step in Chinese wedding planning. It is believed that certain months should be avoided when choosing a wedding date.
Months to Avoid
In the lunar calendar, March, July, and September are considered unlucky months to have weddings, because there are The Qingming Festival, The Ghost Festival, and The Double Ninth Festival respectively. These festivals are related to death so that March, July, and September are considered not suitable for weddings. After avoiding the bad months, how should couples choose lucky months to get married?
Lucky Months to Get Married
In Chinese culture, people believe leap months are the best for weddings. In Chinese, leap months are called “Runyue” meaning harvest and abundance. People believe that leap months are great for couples who want to have successful marriages and happy lives.
In the lunar calendar, the leap month in 2020 is April (May 23 to June 21 in Gregorian Calendar). Leap months occur about every three years in order to sync with the solar calendar.
The next two lucky months for weddings will happen in February 2023 and June 2025 (lunar calendar), which are March 22 – April 19, 2023, July 25 – August 22, 2025, in Gregorian Calendar.
2. Lucky Numbers for Your Wedding
When choosing your exact wedding date, you might want to choose lucky numbers and avoid unlucky numbers. Numbers have special implications or meanings in Chinese culture.
For example, the number “2” means “double”, “double the joy” so it is usually considered a good number, and number “8” is the luckiest number because it is similar to the pronunciation of the word “prosper” in Chinese. Number 9 is also a very lucky number, especially for weddings.
The number “9” ‘s pronunciation is the same as the Chinese word “久“ which means “long-lasting”. That’s why some people prefer to have their weddings on the 9th, 19th or 29th to hope for an enduring marriage.
There are many other ways to find a lucky number for your wedding date. One of them is related to the date of birth. Your Chinese Astrology provides a helpful table to find your lucky numbers by the date of birth and Chinese Zodiac signs.
In Chinese culture, there are also numbers that represent death like the number “4” and “7”. Therefore, couples might want to avoid having weddings on the 4th, 14th, 24th, 7th, 17th, and 27th.
3. Wedding Decorations: The Color Superstitions
In modern weddings, decorations are usually chosen based on the theme–a beach theme, rustic country theme, etc. But for Chinese weddings, there are superstitions regarding different colors.
Essentially, no matter what themes you are going for, red is the most important color and symbol for a happy marriage. Red tablecloths, red “double happiness” signs, and red bedding for the couple are three common must-follow Chinese wedding decoration traditions.
Besides red, some good luck colors such as purple, gold, and pink are great choices for your wedding decorations.
Some taboo colors for Chinese weddings are white and black. White and black are usually reserved for funerals and events that are related to death and ghosts, thus people believe they would bring bad luck to the newlyweds.
4. The Day Before the Wedding: Couples Can’t See Each Other
Similar to Western wedding traditions, the bride and groom should not see each other the day or the night before the wedding. This tradition can be traced back to ancient times when marriages were arranged by the parents. Seeing each other before the wedding was considered “inappropriate” in ancient times.
Even though arranged marriages are not common anymore, in modern Chinese weddings, some couples still follow the tradition not to see each other the day or the night before the wedding. This tradition might sound old-school, but if you are the superstitious type, you can consider following this tradition.
5. Making the New Bed
Source: Evolylla Photography
Before a Chinese wedding, people will usually decorate the new bed for the couple with red bedding and with a “double happiness” sign for good luck. In addition to red decorations, lily bulbs, lotus seeds, peanuts, and Chinese red dates should be placed on the bed to represent fertility.
Choosing the right person to do the decoration is also important. The decorator is usually invited by the bride’s family and is considered a “blessed person”. That means he or she has a happy family, good health, and wealth. Choosing the wrong person to decorate the bed could cause the couple misfortune according to Chinese superstitions.
6. Wedding Shoes: Don’t Wear Old Shoes
While “something old” is good luck in the Western wedding traditions, if you are having a Chinese-American wedding, the “something old” should not be your shoes. It is believed that wearing old shoes brings bad luck in Chinese culture.
This superstition was inherited from ancient times when arranged marriages were common. In ancient China, small feet was the standard of beauty. Since the groom and bride weren’t allowed to see each other before the wedding, the matchmaker would show the bride’s shoes to the groom’s family to prove the woman’s beauty.
If the groom’s family agreed to the marriage, the matchmaker would tell them the bride’s shoe size. To ensure the bride is the woman that the matchmaker presented, the groom’s family would make a new pair of shoes for the bride to wear on their wedding day. Similar to the story of Cinderella, if the new shoes fit the bride, the matchmaker didn’t cheat.
This tradition evolved over time and became a custom for the bride to wear new shoes for her wedding. Consider shopping for some modern Chinese wedding shoes like our Waverly heels to match your cheongsam!
7. The Red Umbrella: A Symbol of Fertility
In Chinese wedding traditions, whenever the bride is outside, she should walk under a red umbrella since the red umbrella symbolizes fertility in marriage. You can consider following this superstition if you are planning to have children.
In addition, note that the umbrella is usually held by the maid of honor, not the bride herself and the umbrella must be new. Using an old, borrowed, or gifted umbrella means giving the luck away. After the wedding, the couple must keep the red umbrella to maintain good luck and fertility in their household.
8. Crying on The Wedding Day
Getting married makes people emotional, but don’t hold back the tears because crying on the wedding day is considered good luck! In Western culture, people believe that if the bride cries on the wedding day, she won’t have tears after the wedding.
In Chinese customs, the bride usually leaves for the wedding from her parents’ house. She might cry because it is very sentimental to leave the house that she grew up in and move to a new stage of life. Crying is considered a sign of future wealth—so the louder the bride cries, the wealthier she will be.
9. Superstitious Foods to Serve at the Wedding Banquet
Roast pig is the most common wedding dish that symbolizes good health. Another example is steamed fish, which represents prosperity. Desserts such as sweet buns and red bean soup represent sweet love and a happy marriage.
Check out our blog post about wedding food to learn all the traditional dishes you should serve at your wedding.
10. Don’t Say Goodbye
When the wedding banquet comes to an end, try not to say the word “goodbye” to your guests! Some people believe that the word “goodbye” implies separation so it is not suitable for the newlyweds to say the word.
Others believe that it’s unlucky because “goodbye” in Chinese is the same phrase as “see you again”, which implies the groom and bride will remarry (and see their guests again). For either reason, if you are superstitious, try to avoid saying “goodbye” or “see you again” when leaving your wedding banquet.
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- Check out our ultimate Chinese wedding decorations checklist for your banquet planning.