Nationality: Dual Citizenship: Taiwan/United States
Residence: Taipei, Taiwan
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/23/16
Primary Language: Chinese
Other Language(s): English, Japanese, Taiwanese
The informant said that she learned Taiwanese wedding traditions from her grandparents and as a part of daily life by going to weddings. She emphasized that it is very important to her that she learns these traditions and keeps them up, even though some of them conflict with her own religious beliefs, because they are part of her cultural heritage. She said that it makes her sad when she sees Taiwanese-Americans who do not know or practice any Taiwanese traditions, because they are missing out on something that is a part of who they are and helps to define them.
Usually, uh, traditional weddings, there will be like, um, multiple different.. like.. stages. So, usually the first– like, after, um, you engage, you have to meet each other’s parents. Like, you have to dress formally, like, usually traditional, uh, Taiwanese dresses. And girls, uh, the wife will make tea for the parents of, um, the husband’s side. So, making tea is a sort of respect, and to show that you have the ability to cook and stuff. So, you make tea, and you kneel down and you serve them the tea. For, um, the husband’s side parents. And, uh, if they accept it, it means that, like, this engagement will be made. And then, um, if.. If it’s a traditional wedding, sometimes.. It’s… it’s most of the time it happens at the southern part of Taiwan, they have really big, like, wedding ceremonies. They’ll invite hundreds of people. And they will go to like plazas in front of, um, temples and they will have a lot of tables of food. So, it’s like a huge, um, festival that invites all of the people. Your neighbors, friends you know. So, they’ll, uh, all go there. They will give out “hongbao,” which is red envelopes with money inside. So.. so, they will give those monies to, uh, the wedding couples and stuff, so they can have money to, you know, buy houses, buy stuff. So, that’s usually a part of, um, the gifts you give them. And during those… um…. dinners– So, there will be a lot of people who cook right there. And, uh, usually they will look at… they will enjoy, like, traditional Taiwanese operas, as well. So, yeah, that would be a show stage over there, and people would just eat, and there would be a performance going on.
The informant seemed to hold great respect for Taiwanese wedding traditions. When I asked if she saw her future wedding resembling these traditions, she said that she plans on likely staying in America, so whoever she marries might have traditions of their own, but that it would be important to her to include some of her Taiwanese traditions in the wedding process. Continuing Taiwanese wedding traditions seems to be a way for her to maintain her Taiwanese identity even while in an American setting.