Tradition – Chinese

During an engagement, the woman and man are supposed to exchange twelve gifts and present them to each other during the engagement ceremony.

Karena learned about this tradition through her parents, who brought it over from Taiwan.  She says that the presents have to be thoughtful and classy and presented in nicely wrapped, half-open box.  She says that most traditional weddings do include this tradition, exchanging gifts such as watches, wallets, and purses.  This gesture often results in extravagant gifts and sometimes displays how much money the family has to spend on the other family.  Though she does not agree with this tradition, she still follows it to please her family in their wishes to have a Chinese wedding.

Since Karena is a wedding planner on the side, she is familiar with certain Chinese traditions regarding engagements and marriages.  For her own wedding, she followed these traditions and saw it as another part of the process for engagement.  Her interpretation of the tradition was no more than pleasing her family.  It is very important to respect the customs of one’s ancestors for them to celebrate the union of two families.  In contrast to American weddings, Chinese weddings are very involved in each other’s families, making sure that the two get along.  The exchange of the presents is also a symbol of friendship between the two families.  In addition to her interpretation, another approach could be taken.  The exchange of presents can represent how each family is financially able to support each other.  It also acts as a way to join the families together; by exchanging these presents, the families can unite together through the couple.  These Chinese traditions are a way to respect the elders of the family as well as bringing the families closer together as the couple prepares for marriage.  These traditions are also brought over from Asia to be integrated into Asian-American weddings, showing the hybridization of the two cultures.