To most Chinese families, the purpose of marriage is more than just love - it's to create a special bond between two families, continuing their ancestral line. The ritual of preparing the matrimonial bed setting is thus considered an important wedding custom that shapes the future of the family and gives hope to the couple to bear more children. 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. It is said that this practice is considered a blessing on the fertility of the couple and will make them produce more offspring after they get married. Couples are said to spend their first night as a married couple on the installed bed.
When and where is the matrimonial bed setting ceremony held?
Couples will refer to the almanac calendar and pick an auspicious date and time for the event. This ritual is usually held between 3 days to 1 week before the wedding. The bed can be installed in the bride’s or the groom’s home, or in their new home.
Who does the setting up?
It is recommended that a woman of good fortune, who is married with a living husband and many children, is chosen to perform the installation of the bridal bed. This is preferably done by the groom’s parents or grandparents who can then 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 with moving a newly purchased bed into the bridal room (in modern days, an old bed is also fine). It is suggested to consult a feng shui master to figure out the best position to settle the bed in the room. Afterwards, the woman of good fortune will put up a new set of bed linens with an auspicious color, usually in red, with dragons and phoenix embroidery. Lucky items are to be placed on the bed, including things brought over from the betrothal gift ceremony, such as coconut, areca, red dates, red bean, green bean, dried longan, dried lychees, dried walnuts, and peanuts (that are still in their shells). Other special items like bedroom slippers, birthing tubs, face washbasin from the bride's dowry will also be needed. Two red packets, containing an amount with the number “9," are also to be put onto the pillow. The bed then has to be tilted slightly at an angle and only moved back on the wedding day. After the bed is installed, children are invited to jump and roll on the bed to bless the couple with fertility. The more children at the installation ceremony, the more fertile the couple will be.
What are the taboos for the ritual?
After the installation, no other adult, including the bride, should sit or lie on the bridal bed until the couple enters the room on their wedding night. It is believed that this will lead to poor health. If you want to go the extra mile, some older traditions may also be required. For example, if the groom has to sleep on the installed bridal bed before the Chinese wedding, he should be accompanied by a young boy who belongs to the dragon zodiac sign. However, this is not strictly followed in modern days. Another more traditional custom includes prohibiting pregnant women, or person who have just lost their family members, from entering the room during the first month after the wedding. It is also believed to be extremely unlucky to leave one side of the bed empty during the first four months after the wedding as 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, or the clothes of the couple can be placed onto the bed to symbolize their presence.