Marriage symbolizes a new life – and less time with your parents. This is why traditional Chinese weddings have a custom called “San Chao Hui Men”. It’s when the newly wedded couple visits the bride’s parents bearing gifts, to symbolize her love for her family. This tradition is still practiced today. Want to help your bride have the best homecoming? Read on.
What exactly is San Chao Hui Men and the story behind it?
San Chao Hui Men, or 'Gui Ning,' is a traditional Chinese wedding custom where the newlyweds will return to the bride's home after the wedding. It was said to develop in the Qin dynasty, when the bride would start living in her husband’s home. As transportation was less efficient back then, if the two houses were far apart, visits were few and far between. San Chao Hui Men was the daughter's first visit to her parent’s home as part of a married couple, to show that she wouldn’t forget her family. During the ceremony, the husband will also show his gratitude to his in-laws. This deepens ties between the two families.
When is it held?
The couple will visit the bride’s home on the third day, or within three days after the Chinese wedding ceremony. If you visit the bride’s home later than that, it symbolizes that the groom’s family isn’t happy with the bride, so she’s not allowed to come home. Modern Chinese weddings usually squeeze all the necessary events into a single day. After the tea ceremony at the groom's home, the couple will return to the bride’s home for the 'Hui Men' ceremony.
What do you need to prepare?
The couple is supposed to prepare gifts for the bride’s family. A roasted pig is given to symbolize the virginity of the bride. Other items include 2 chickens, 2 catties of pork, 2 catties of pork belly, 1 catty of lettuce, welsh onions, cakes, 2 bottles of wine, 2 pieces of saccharum, 2 baskets of fruit, and 2 boxes of egg noodles. To simplify matters, these gifts can also replaced by red packets in modern days. Not the roasted pig, though. Make sure everything is sufficient for a portion to be returned to the groom. It symbolizes a sharing of fortune between the two families. The head, tail, hands and feet portions of the roasted pig are given to the groom. This symbolizes the start and finish of the marriage. Half of the pig's tongue, the 2 saccharums, and the lettuce are also returned.
What are the procedures of the ceremony?
The ceremony starts with the bride wearing her traditional cheongsam and carrying a new red handbag for her visit. After receiving the roasted pig, she will share it with her relatives through a banquet or dinner at her home. One thing to remember is that the bride needs to get to the groom’s home before sunset – it’s said to bring good fortune for having a baby!