In Chinese families, marriage is not just about love. It creates a bond between two families continuing their ancestral lines. The matrimonial bed setting ceremony is an important wedding custom. It guides the way for hopefully more members of the family, after all. Read on to learn more about all the rules and taboos of this ritual that you'll need to follow.
What exactly is matrimonial bed setting ceremony?
Matrimonial bed setup, or 'An Chuang,' is a Chinese wedding custom in which people decorate and set up the nuptial bed for the wedding day. This practice is considered a blessing on the fertility of the couple, and will have them produce more offspring after they get married. Couples spend their first night as a married couple on the installed bed.
When and where is the matrimonial bed setting ceremony held?
The almanac calendar will give an auspicious date and time. It is usually held between 3 days to 1 week before the wedding. Take your pick: it can be in the bride’s home, the groom’s home, or their new home as a couple.
Who does the setting up?
A woman of good fortune, with a living husband and many children, should do the honors. If the groom’s mother or grandmother fits the bill, then they’re the first option. They can pass their good luck and fertility to the couple. The rest of the family can also join in on the ceremony.
How do you install the matrimonial bed?
The custom starts by moving a newly purchased bed into the bridal room. Presently, an old bed is also fine. A feng shui master can figure out the best position to place the bed. The bed has to be slightly tilted at an angle, and only moved back on the wedding day. The woman of good fortune will place a new set of bed linens. This has to be an auspicious color, usually red. It should also have dragon and phoenix embroidery.
Lucky items are placed on the bed, including some from the betrothal gift ceremony. The list includes coconut, areca, red dates, red bean, green bean, dried longan, dried lychees, dried walnuts, and peanuts. Don’t forget some special items like bedroom slippers, birthing tubs, and the face washbasin from the bride's dowry.
Two red packets, containing an amount with the number “9," should be put on the pillow. Children can then jump and roll on the bed to increase the couple’s fertility. The more children at the ceremony, the more fertile the couple will be.
What are the taboos for the ritual?
No other adult, including the bride, can sit and lie on the bridal bed until the couple enters the room on their wedding night. This can lead to poor health. There are a few more old-school traditions. For example, if the groom has to sleep on the bed beforehand, he should be with a young boy with the Dragon Chinese zodiac sign.
Want to hear more? An old tradition prohibits pregnant women, or someone who has just lost a family member, from entering the room during the first month after the wedding.
It’s also considered unlucky to leave one side of the bed empty during the first four months after the wedding. It is considered to symbolize death for either half of the new couple. If the couple goes on their honeymoon immediately after the wedding, the parents of the bride or groom can sleep in the room. They can also leave their clothes on the bed to symbolize their presence.