I have three events to talk about in this entry. There was a celebration demonstration, SNOW, and a wedding.
A couple of days ago, I was shopping at our supermarket. As I was leaving I heard drums and gongs. Around the corner came some costumed characters. Some were on stilts, some were in pig masks and then there were some women dressed in the traditional Hans red dresses. They started to dance in the open square and many people formed a circle around them. I think it was a promotional demonstration for a martial arts school. You see this type of demonstrations often. Many times I have seen a group of line dancers outside a store dancing to pop music in a choreographed dance. I am not sure how effective these marketing activities are. But, they are fun to watch.
Last night, we had snow for the first time since I arrived in China. It was a light dusting. But, it was very pretty. By afternoon, the snow turned to rain and melted the snow away. Tonight, the rain has changed to sleet and rain. The weather forecast says that more snow may be on the way. I hope so. I will be in Beijing. If it snows, I hope to get to some tourist sites and take some wonderful pictures.
Well, the snow was nice, but it was not fun this morning as my friend, Jim, and I traveled to a neighboring town for a friend’s wedding. Our friend, Cherrie, was a teaching assistant of our last year. Her wedding was held at her new home and it was basically an outdoor ceremony. So, it was very cold. I did not know this and was not dressed as warmly as I should have been. But, let me tell you about my experience at the wedding. You might find it interesting. Let me first say that my photos are not great. It was tight quarters with so many people. But, Jim got many good pictures. I will add them to my blog when I get them from him.
We arrived at her parent’s home. Many people were inside and outside the home. I notice right away that I am over dressed. I am in a blue dress shirt and tie, gray slacks and black shoes. Everyone else was in standard dress for daily wear. Oh well. We are introduced to Cherrie’s parents and other members of the wedding group. We mingle and try to talk. Many of the kids take an immediate liking to us. And, we are the center of attention being the only foreigners to the wedding. We kind of get an honorary feeling from the group. I don’t think I will ever get used to that treatment. It is nice, yet seems unnecessary to me many times. We enter the home and meet Cherrie in her white wedding dress. It is very pretty. She seems very pleased that we were there. She calls me her step-father as I would often treat her as a daughter when we worked together. She was my regular teaching assistant before the school dismissed her of her responsibilities. We stayed at the home for a while. An unusual tradition was taking place. They loaded all of Cherrie’s belongings into a van to move to her new home. I kind of laughed about this. Children in China live with their family until they are married. Then they get to move out on their own. It was kind of like the parents were saying to themselves…”finally…we have our home back”. I know this is not the sentiment, or even the thinking of the family. But, it is just the western side of me thinking this as we tend to escape from our parent’s roofs as soon as possible. After the truck is loaded, we begin a short wedding procession in our cars to her new home. We are standing outside in the snow. Fireworks are set off to scare away the demons. The groom is standing outside the bride car waiting for his bride. The wait seems like a long time. When she emerges, they hug. He them picks her up and carries her over the threshold into the home. We enter the courtyard at the entrance of the home. We stop and the bride and groom are greeted at the door by someone. I am not sure what I am seeing. The bride and groom enter the home. Someone holds up a large blanket over the door to block our view for a few moments. I am not sure what was happening. I thing she took off her outer wedding gown. I saw it laid on a table in the entrance. The next step of the wedding was the wedding bed covers and blankets were brought into her new bedroom. And then the other personal belongings were brought in from the moving truck. We stood around mingling for a while and then were led into a side outer room. Mind you, it is snowing, cold, windy, and February. This room is not heated and is like a refrigerator. We are seated at some table for the wedding meal. It was a great meal. Chicken, vegetables, beef, fish, and more. All the things I have learned are custom for a wedding in this region of China. It was fun. I could not feel my toes in the cold. But, it was much fun. The groom came out to the tables and offered a toast. Jim and I went to see Cherrie. She was dressed in a red wedding dress now. But, she is sheltered away in her new bedroom, as is tradition. She is not permitted to exit until later the afternoon. So, we went to say hello to her. Offer our blessings. And provide our red envelopes containing cash for her wedding present. I gave 500 yuan. As a close friend, I think that is acceptable. After our visit with Cherrie, it is time for Jim and I to leave. Our driver is waiting for us. I think there was more to the wedding. But, we had to leave. I was kind of glad too. I was getting very cold. I wish my friend and her new husband all the best luck and blessings upon their future.
I am off to Beijing in two days. I will keep you updated to my exploits in Beijing over the next two weeks. Happy New Year everyone. Remember, you can come visit me whenever you like. I will be glad to host you in my home.