Chinese Wedding Game

The informant is an eighteen-year old student from Los Angeles. He was born in Taipei and received schooling in America. He had been studying in Taipei before moving back to the United States for university. He speaks Chinese and English and will be referred to in this transcript as “GS.”

GS: Uh, this one is a wedding way, something like a wedding folkway like something we do um, what it is, is that we, first of all when couples get married we don’t really have ma-, wedding ceremonies, uh, the wedding ceremony is when, like, a banquet, a wedding banquet where we invite all the relatives to come eat together in this big ballroom. And then we announce the marriage and then, uh, people sign the names and then they leave some sort of money for, you know, the marriage. So it, congratulation money for the marriage. Um, so guests are in this big banquet and then the, the groom or the husband goes around, you know, drinking with everybody and he usually gets really drunk and so there’s the bride, the bride goes around and drinks with the females and the male goes around and drinks with the males. Like toasting, basically and they both get really you know, I guess, kind of really tipsy and then the family usually plays games with them. So one such game is that they tie, I’m not sure what it is but, don’t get disgusted by this, but like a heart, like, um, uh, boiled and, uh, flavored heart. And uh, I’m not sure if it was, I think it’s pork or is it cow, a heart and they tie it on a string and then hang it from, like, a wooden rod and then the couples have to tie their hands behind their back, blindfolded, and then they both try to eat the heart together. So it’s, yeah, okay, so then you’ll just see these two tipsy couples like (slurp sound) floundering around on the you know, pol- the, the stage! Because, you know it’s a ballroom, on stage, trying to eat this pig heart.


Interviewer: So what do you think is the uh, significance of things like the heart eating or the interruption of uh-

GS: Okay, so, first of all the heart eating thing or the heart eating thing is, uh, I don’t really see why, I think it’s just a game, you know, uh, like, what is it tricking or messing around with the couple. I think that there are a lot of traditions, uh, in the western world, too, that mess, you mess around with the couple on their wedding day, you know it’s kind of like a prank that you do.

Interviewer: So out of curiosity, um, the eating the heart, does that seem weird to me just because I’m from Western culture or is it weird in that context as well?

GS: Um, I said don’t be disgusted because I thought you might be disgusted by the idea of eating an animal’s heart, sometimes it’s a liver, eating an animal’s liver, but you just have to accept like, these are really, like, common foods, ‘cause, like, we eat these at the dinner table all the time and we also, like, there’s on the street vending and it’s just flavored heart, it tastes really good you come to Taipei I’ll treat you to one. You might be disgusted by the idea but I tell you it’s chicken then you’re gonna eat it and I’ll be like ha, you just ate heart. But uh, yeah, but the whole concept of tying on the string and playing with the couples, I think it’s interesting, not weird

Interviewer: Mkay, cool, thank you.

The wedding ceremony demonstrates the active role of the family in a newlywed couple’s lives. The presentation of money seems like an investment in the lives of the two who have just gotten married, again showing that they all hope that this will mean the continuity of the family name.

The heart-eating game, however, seems to be more of a fun game to be played than anything else. As GS points out, the couple is usually intoxicated at this point, increasing the absurdity of the game. As it is slightly embarrassing and challenging, it seems to be a unifying exercise for the couple (they are usually on a stage during the event in plain view). I expect the family subjects them to this point of ridicule to unite them in their awkward struggle, hoping to create a bonding event to strengthen the marriage right at the start.