Weddings in Taiwan

“One thing I remember is when my sister got married in Taiwan, there were a lot of Taiwanese traditions that we went through that I think are traditional marriage customs. Like, first my brother-in-law came to our ‘house’ that our family was in, and had to be welcomed in by us to get my sister or else he couldn’t come in the door. Then, he had to formally ask my parents if he could marry my sister, and then he had to bow and give my parents money. Then when my sister left ‘our house’ my little sister had to pick up a fan that my older sister threw out the car window and neither of them could look back and my little sister had to take the fan and put it under her pillow, which was one way to ensure a happy marriage. After that we moved to my brother-in-laws house, but before my sister entered, she had to step over a pot of fire onto a tile and the number of pieces the tile broke into signified the number of children they would have.”

My informant was unfamiliar with the traditions herself as she is Chinese and lived in America for most of her life, and found them very different and interesting. She was not really sure of the meaning for these traditions other than entering a new stage in life.

As discussed in class, marriage is one of the most celebrated occasions in life, so marriage traditions are abundant in most cultures. Now that I know may of the seemingly innocent traditions that people partake of are actually Freudian, I viewed these traditions in a similar light. I found it interesting that my informant’s sister had to step over a pot of fire before finding out how many prospective children she will likely have. This seems to have a Freudian angle as fire can signify passion and sexuality. Also, I have heard that fans can signify union, so perhaps the tossing of the fan can mean the new union formed and a loss of the female’s innocence, which the little sister keeps as she should still have this innocence. This may not be the actual significance of this action, but I interpreted it in this way. Other actions seem to show the traditional way of the woman leaving her home and entering her husband’s. At least in Korea, I know that often newly wed couples will live for a couple years with the husband’s parents. This seems significant in this particular wedding as well, as the husband “bought” his wife from her family by offering money, and they moved from her house to his.