Broken Ceramic, Broken Hearts

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Singaporean
Age: 56
Occupation: Homemaker
Residence: Singapore
Date of Performance/Collection: 04/12/2021
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Context

This was an incident that occurred during my cousin’s wedding that caused quite a bit of argument within the family. ‘Jie’ refers to my older sister. The interview is with my mother as I get her to recount the incident.

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Performance

The following is transcribed from a conversation between me, (M), and my mother, the interviewee (I).

M: Do you remember the time you got really upset at jie about the gift she tried to give Dixie?

I: Yes that was really bad.

M: Can you tell me about the gift and why you were so upset?

I: She tried to give Dixie a pair of ceramic cups that she had made as a wedding gift. But! One of the cups had a crack in it. I told her to either remake it or don’t give it at all. Because it’s bad luck in Chinese tradition to give something that is broken on her wedding. And you know Dixie, she is superstitious, and you cannot do that during a wedding.

M: What ended up happening to the gift?

I: Your jie still insisted on giving it so I had to hide it during the wedding itself and not give it to Dixie. You cannot do things like that, especially at a Wedding.

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Analysis

I remember very clearly this being a huge moment of contention between my mother and sister. My sister had put in days of work in order to create something homemade and special for our favorite cousin on her wedding day, and my mother seeing the broken ceramic cup and refusing to let my sister gift it on the wedding day. I think this shows how superstition across generations can change and how it can create moments of tension. While my sister was not a superstitious person, my mother was and she knew that my cousin was as well and thus could not allow such a gift to be given. It was also a reflection of the family and my mother felt that it would’ve reflected badly on her if she had allowed such a gift to be giving by her own daughter. The superstition comes from Chinese beliefs where everything must be seen as auspicious. From the color red that must be present everywhere on the wedding day, to the multitudes of rituals of tea pouring that must be done in the correct order.