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Love and Marriage, Hong Kong Style


Evelyn Hannon

On a recent trip to Hong Kong, Journeywoman gossiped and ruminated with Asian women about love and marriage. They took me window shopping for bridal gowns, told me about their Grannies' love rules, explained their courting traditions and even invited me to my first Chinese wedding. This is what I learned....

Chinese Grandmothers say...
Where you hold your chopsticks -- bottom, top or middle, is equal to the distance you live from the one you will eventually marry. That means, hold them at the bottom and you will marry the boy next door. Hold them at the top and you will have to travel to find him.

Culturally Correct Courting
In Hong Kong, a prospective husband who feels he has met the woman of his dreams, offers small wedding cakes to his future in-laws. If they approve of him, they accept these "goodies" and distribute them to family and friends announcing the engagement and making it official. If not, he's left with an awful lot of cake!

Pray For a Husband!
Every August 20th, the women of Hong Kong traditionally visit Lover's Rock in Mid-Levels to leave food offerings, praying to the deities for kind, prosperous husbands for their daughters times, for themselves!

Chinese Brides Must Avoid Eggplant!
Chinese grandmothers say that certain foods must definitely be avoided at a Chinese wedding banquet. The bride cannot eat any form of eggplant as that can result in sterility. And, the groom must be careful not to eat pig's brains because that delicacy can produce male impotence. And, providing all goes well and she becomes pregnant, mama-to-be must avoid eating both rabbit and chicken or her baby will be born with a hoarse voice.

Everybody Loves a Wedding!
In Hong Kong, all day Sunday is the best time for bride-spotting. You'll find these delightful love-struck beauties posing for their formal photos on the long entry stairway to the Hong Kong Cultural Center (harbourside in Kowloon). Expect a wonderful bridal parade with everything from full length lace to basic black leather. Quite wonderful to watch!

Wedding Guest Know-How
If you're invited to a wedding in Hong Kong, try to go with Chinese guests who will know the ropes. Don't rush out to buy crystal as a gift. Presents are unusual unless it is money delivered in a red packet called "laisee." If you are simply invited as a business associate just go and don't worry about a present. If the person being married is the child of a close associate or a long time member of your Hong Kong agent's staff then get advice as to how much money to give. Various numbers mean various things: for example "bat" or "eight" is equal to "fat" or "prosperity." So your gift should have an eight in it, ie. $88.00. However the amount will tell in what esteem you hold the person. Proceed cautiously!
(Source- Doing Business With the Hong Kong Chinese by Elizabeth Thomson)

One-stop Trousseau Shopping!
If love and wedding traditions interest you, then make your way to Hong Kong's Shanghai Street for some culturally-correct window shopping. On view are the beautiful red silk bridal outfits traditionally worn at the wedding banquet. Ditto for the intricately embroidered black silk outfits reserved for the female elders of the wedding party. Don't be surprised to find linens and pillows stacked indoors and outside of these dress shops. This is definitely one-stop Asian trousseau shopping. Very worth a look-see. Who know? You might find something perfectly lovely for yourself!

Marriage Words
A successful marriage requires falling in love many times always with the same person.
Mignon McLaughlin - The Second Neurotic's Notebook (1966)
Source - The New Beacon Book of Quotations by Women

Love Words
What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.
Helen Keller-We Bereaved (1929)
Source - The New Beacon Book of Quotations by Women

Woman Words
How do you know that love has gone? If you said you would be there at seven, you get there by nine and he has not called the police yet--it's gone.
Marlene Dietrich, Marlene Dietrich's ABC (1962)
Source- The New Beacon Book of Quotations by Women




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