May 18, 2009

I kept some Foochow Wedding Customs

When Methodist children get married the first tradition they keep is a Church ceremony. The Church is usually decorated with flowers. We can attribute the beautiful church wedding ceremony to Rev and Mrs. James Hoover who must have initiated such wedding customs in Sibu when their faithfuls got married in the early 1900's. In fact according to an aunt of mine Mrs. Hoover was so loving and kind that she even help made some of the brides' gowns. So this actually set the trend for white weddings in Sibu. Masland Church in Sibu recorded many wonderful weddings and successful marriages in the past.

My daughter's wedding at Grace Methodist Church Miri is considered one of the many fourth generation Methodist weddings in the Tiong family. The first Methodist wedding in my family started with my Grandfather Tiong Kung Ping when he married my Grandmother Chong in Singapore in a Methodist ceremony attended by Rev James Hoover and Mrs. Hoover. In fact I was very happy to learn that Rev James Hoover was the match maker !

Foochow brides get a special Ang Pow called "Fill the Pcoket". This is a token sum to indicate that the bride does not go to her new family empty handed. The sum is not necessarily big. It really depends on each family. Of course some families go overboard!

A red piece of cloth three metres in length above the door is a must for all Chinese weddings on both sides of the family. This indicates a happy occasion. Red is an auspicious colour for the Chinese and brings luck and happiness. Furthermore it will be carefully kept and used for future happy occasions.

Besides these customs I have selected to keep a few interesting ones too. My son-in-law received a token ang pow for a pair of pajamas and a suit. My daughter's new in-laws get a token ang pow for a set of new clothes each. And the groom's brother received an ang pow for "first time visiting".

I am happy that my father-in-law and other in-laws positively encouraged the continuation of some of my Foochow customary practices for this wedding and did not insist on following only their own customs. I had recruited also the help of some of my own elders who are living in Miri in the preparation of the wedding. For this I am very thankful for their advice and kind help. And for many days before the wedding I wished that many of my own uncles were still living and would be around to help. In Foochow this is called "helping hand" or buong chiu. In particular I miss my Fifth Uncle who would have been the best person to help and call the shots.

For this wedding I fell back on my brother and sisters and Tiong cousins and nephews and nieces to help. This is what family is for. And furthermore those who are far away sent their cyber moral support!! Soon with the passing of time we will become elders and the family support system continues when called upon.

Thanks go to everyone who helped to make this wedding a roaring success.


fufu said...

yeah thats for sharing....just dropping by

we all shall follow the practises or they may just disppear.... we should keep these or the culture will just be modernised

sarawakiana said...

Hi Fufu
Thanks for our interest and support! Culture depends very much on the individual. It can be enhanced or destroyed.
But we do depend on the new generation who must make a concerted effort. The elders too must teach well.

Anonymous said...

Nice to read about old customs. If we can still practise them why not? If we cannot then we should not. And if we don't want to it should be ok...I am very flexible. So I won't insist any one keeping traditions and customs.

sarawakiana said...

Thanks Anon for your comments. Ithink flexibility is the order of the day.

kamaliah said...

Congratulations! I am sure you and your family must have made a lot of preparations. Weddings are always a lot of work....

chung said...

This is a nice post.

Sibu Tales : Making Bah Gui from Scratch

The pioneering families of Sibu Foochows continued to practise the  adoption of girls from poor families who become their maids (slaves). ...