Monday, May 21, 2007

A Traditional Chinese Proposal

Well, since I'm a Chinese descendant, let me tell you something about a traditional Chinese proposal. Unlike the regular "western" proposal where only the guy proposes to the girl (or vice versa 'coz this is a modern world), Chinese people in Indo still follow some Chinese tradition when it comes to proposing.

Normally both families set up a proposal date. The proposal date can be held up to a year before the wedding. Normally the girl would object to being "proposed" like this if they haven't talked about the possibility of getting married sometime next year, as some people consider it "a loss" if the girl's being proposed WAY before there's a possibility of marriage. It's like "being tied up" without any clear future plan (remember the image of the carrot dangling in front of the donkey - not good, right?).

The proposal can be held either at the girl's house or at a restaurant. Usually the guy comes to the girl's house (or the appointed resto) with his parents and some relatives/siblings. The number of people coming to the girl's house (or resto) has to be even (don't ask me why), so it has to be 6, 8, or 10. As number 4 is considered bad luck for Chinese (it represents death), they tend to avoid it.

Well, before the appointed date, the guy has to prepare several things. He and his family have to prepare gifts for the girl and family. Normally they pack the gifts in huge heart-shaped boxes. Again the number of the boxes has to be even, so either 2 or 4 or 6. What do they have to put inside the boxes? Normally even-numbered oranges, apples and they'd scatter some sweets and also packages of traditional Chinese delicacy called "koya". They also have to bring either a necklace and pendant or a bracelet to "seal the deal".

The necklace and pendant or bracelet have to be made of either yellow gold or white gold. The trend nowadays veers more to white gold (it's become more fashionable in Indo for the last few years). Sometimes the girl gets to choose it on her own (if the guy's family allows her to), but sometimes the guy's mother chooses it for her (so that it'd be a surprise).

Here's what happens on the appointed date. The guy comes to the girl's house (or the resto) along with his gang, then they shake hands with the girl's family and the guy gives the boxes to the girl's family (they've appointed the people who'll receive the gifts). Then the gifts will be put on a table so that the girl's family members and relatives can see them clearly. Then before they enjoy the meal (usually the girl's family has prepared the meal or they are the ones who pay the resto bill if the proposal's held at a resto), the guy's Dad would give a short speech to convey their intention of proposing the girl.

After that, the girl's Dad would accept the proposal, and then the guy would put the necklace/bracelet on the girl's neck/wrist. Sometimes the pendant on the necklace consists of Chinese characters that say "luck" or something like that (unfortunately I don't speak or read Chinese) and the girl is supposed to wear the necklace/bracelet all the time to show everybody else that she's "taken".

On that day, sometimes they also talk about the wedding details while enjoying the meal. There they also get to know each other's relatives. When it's all over, the guy's family and relatives would say goodbye and the girl's family would give back half of the boxes to the guy. I used to wonder why, but now I understand the reason. The guy has to give something to the relatives who've been kind enough to go to the girl's house (or the resto), so that's why the girl gives back half of the boxes. Well, if the guy gives the girl 4 boxes, then she'll give back 2 boxes.

To give you a clearer idea of what the proposal's all about, you can view my brother's proposal pics in this site: A Chinese Proposal.

Yeah, go figure. Weird tradition indeed even though I've begun to understand some positive points in doing it. And it doesn't end there yet. There'll be another one of this kind of gift-giving tradition that's usually held not long before the actual wedding. Then the groom has to give lots more things to the girl he he he he...Nowadays people want to have it more compact, so they prefer to combine the two traditions and appoint the date right before the actual wedding (for example a week or a month before the actual wedding).

Anyway, there was one funny incident that happened after my wedding in Indo. One of my uncles asked me this question, "How did Arttu propose you?" I told him that he just asked me if I wanted to be his wife. It was clear that he was baffled he he he...


  1. thank you for commenting on my art! I'm glad that you like it. Your entry was very interesting, I learned some stuff that I never knew!

  2. UR welcome. :-)))) THANKS for your compliment. I'll try to write more later and hopefully they'll be interesting as well he he he...

  3. Wow, complicated.

    I really enjoyed reading that. :-)

    I'm a "foreign bride" myself :) I moved from South Africa to Scotland (Scottish husband)in 2004.

    My husband asked me to marry him on the internet. Some friends/family were really shocked by that. I think half of them thought I was mad. Moving from the hot South to the cold North has been.. challenging? Half my clothes I can't wear anymore. But I LOVE snow and I love the countryside. and the fact the sun really never sets in summer because we're pretty far north here. it's magical. :-)

  4. Hey, Michelle!!!

    I'm glad you enjoyed it. :-))) Yep, I know the feeling that some people may be shocked by what happened to you.

    Yeah, indeed it's challenging to move halfway across the world he he he...and I also left SO many of my clothes behind.

    Thanks for sharing your story!!! :-)))

  5. Oh, I forgot something. I replied to you on my blog and forgot to add that I liked what you said about God putting us into situations that make us grow. THat was nice. :-)