Sample Culture Capsule – Courtship and Marriage

Today the traditional arranged marriage is quite rare. Most people have the freedom to choose their own spouse. However, parents still play an important role in their children’s love life.

For example, parents are normally opposed to their children starting to date until after they complete high school. They also give advice and recommendations about who would be an appropriate boyfriend or girlfriend. Since engagement is not a typical step for many Chinese, traditional dating is viewed very seriously and is generally only for those who intend to get married. Before dating someone, it’s important to get parents’ approval of the candidate in traditional families. Customarily, couples are matched based on a similar family background and social status.

Today Western values have had an impact on traditional dating in China, and it is no longer uncommon for couples to date casually. Moreover, there is an increasing number of young people who make a practical choice. Even though many women still attach importance to a potential boyfriend’s physical traits, such as his height, women normally favor those candidates who have a successful career, a home, a car and substantial savings. And not surprisingly, beautiful young women usually have more candidates from which to choose.

Chinese parents traditionally prefer their children to marry within their own race. However, because of the increasing number of marriages between a Chinese and a foreigner, interracial marriage is no longer as shocking as  it would have been in past generations.

In order to show respect to their parents, children normally obtain their parents’ approval before getting married . It is very important to select an auspicious wedding day based on the Chinese lunar calendar. Today many weddings are also held around traditional festivals.

On the wedding day, the bridegroom picks up the bride at the bride’s parents’ home. In previous centuries, a carriage was used to carry the bride to bridegroom’s home for the wedding ceremony. Today a bridegroom rents a new red car or a fleet of red cars to bring the bride to a fashionable restaurant or hotel where the wedding will be held.

Throughout the different stages of dating and on the wedding day, the bridegroom is expected to give generous gifts to the bride’s family. Normally a bridegroom or his family pays for all the expenses of the wedding. In former times, the bride received a dowry to be brought to the bridegroom’s family on the wedding day. Today the bride’s family gives her a gift of money based on the family’s economic situation, or they purchase furniture, electronics and other necessities for her new home.

Wearing a ring is not a Chinese tradition for married people. Some Chinese do wear a ring because of influences from other cultures. One can’t assume that someone is single if that person is not wearing a wedding ring.

The bride normally keeps her father’s surname after getting married. The bride and bridegroom will call each other’s parents mom and dad after getting married and address each other’s relatives as brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles, etc.

Besides love, there are other values that hold a marriage together. Family responsibilities, obligations, morals, friendship, kindness and benevolence are rooted in the Chinese culture. However, divorce is not regarded as a taboo as it was in the past.

There are also an increasing number of single people in the urban areas who do not follow the traditional path of getting married in their 20’s. Many of them are still looking for the ideal spouse.


 Register for our on-line programs