Mirror of Time: Chinese Weddings Through the Decades

Mirror of Time: Chinese Weddings Through the Decades

Changing wedding customs are the mirror of a rapidly changing China. Over the past 50 years, China has seen drastic changes in the process of getting married and how weddings are celebrated. What’s on Weibo gives an overview of Chinese weddings since the 1950s. The staggering increase of bride prices in China’s rural areas has been a much-discussed topic in Chinese (social) media, as prices have increased sixty-fold (!) since the late 1990s. But it is not just the custom of bride prices that has drastically changed over the past decades. In pace with a rapidly-changing China, the whole process of getting married and wedding traditions have undergone enormous changes. Liu Tong (@丹东刘彤), deputy director of a Liaoning local TV channel, writes on Weibo: “In my parent’s generation, picking up the bride by bicycle was the equivalent of what the BMW car norm is now. After the establishment of a new China, the era of changes is reflected in the wedding transformations.” Liu writes about what has characterized Chinese weddings through the ages, using a widespread Chinese phrase: “In the 1950s it was about having a bed, in the 1960s it was just about a bag of sweets, in the 1970s it was the Little Red Book, in the 1980s it was about having a radio, in the 1990s there was the extravagance of top-class hotels, and in the 2000s the wedding reception is a display of individuality”.* Others on Weibo call China’s changing wedding traditions a “mirror of their time.”

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Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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