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A Guide to Sangjit: The Traditional Chinese Betrothal Rituals


As we are now entering the modern era, it somehow influences the way couples nowadays prepare themselves for a marriage without leaving the traditional pre-wedding procession from their ancestors. In fact, it isn't rarely how we stumbled upon Chinese couples who began to simplify some of the processions. It's none other than the celebration that combine the engagement and betrothal ritual, as known as Sangjit.

In the past, this betrothal ritual was intended as a ceremony that aimed to compensate the bride's family for pledging their daughter. That is why in practice, there were various trays that contained gifts of items to the money envelopes that would be given to the bride's family. Moreover, there is an implicit meaning in each gift that makes this heritage interesting.

However, along the journey, the purpose of doing this tradition has been quickly shifted, in which it's now meant to introduce each other's family so that they will become more acquainted. Not to mention, the ritual has been believed to bring happiness for the bride- and groom-to-be. The procedure of this pre-marital procession is still done formally by bringing together the two big families at the bride's house or selected venue, usually about a month to a week before the wedding day.

Here are the procedures in the Sangjit procession that need to be considered:

1. Attire

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Credit: Moire Photography

The Sangjit procession will certainly feel more authentic if the bride wears a high-collared cheongsam. For more modern celebrations, your cheongsam color selection doesn't have to be red or golden yellow. However, it's a good idea to insert red or golden yellow accents in the fashion details for a lively and cultured atmosphere.

2. Exchanging the items

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Credit: State Photography

There is also an exchange procedure for these arranged items that should be packaged neatly on a tray. The tray will be dominated by some colors, such as red or golden yellow just like the bride's and groom's attires. The number of trays or arranged items must be even numbers, starting from 6, 8, and so on. Remember, avoid using number 4 which is considered unlucky in Chinese culture. Did you know there's a meaning behind each item that you put on the tray?

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Credit: State Photography

  • Clothing for the brides: Indicating that the wife's needs can be fulfilled by the groom, this set of clothing can also be complemented with other bridal needs, such as skincare products and cosmetics.
  • A complete set of golden jewelry: This compulsory gift consists of rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets made of gold to represent how the woman is now officially engaged to someone.
  • Red envelopes: There are two types of money that will be inserted inside the red envelopes, namely diaper money and feast money. Diaper money signifies respect for raising the bride. Then, there is feast money that will be given as a fund for the wedding celebration. If the bride's family takes all the money, the wedding will be fully funded by the bride's family. Meanwhile, taking the diaper money entirely indicates that the bride's family fully surrenders their child and will not interfere any of their concern in the future. Thus, in this modern time the bride's family will just take out a small portion of the red envelopes.
  • Fruits: Serving sweet fruits, such as pears, apples, oranges, or bananas will signify prosperity.
  • A pair of pig trotters or canned food: Here are another item that signifies a good fortune. If it is not possible to provide a pair of pig trotters, provide 8 to 12 cans of longan fruit instead. Because the cans will be stacked altogether, make sure you appoint the right family member to bring this tray.
  • Various kinds of sweets: As a symbol of a harmonious marriage life, make sure you present the sweets in even numbers.
  • A pair of wine bottles: A pair of wine bottles will be given by the groom's family, which will be exchanged for two bottles of red syrup from the bride's family later. These drinks will symbolize as a good luck gift for the parents.
  • Two pairs of candles: Include these items as a sign of protection.
  • A pair of candles will be returned to the groom's family so that the two of them will be escaped from negative energy.

3. Welcoming procession

Here are some important things to note when welcoming the groom's family's arrival for the Sangjit celebration:

1. All bride's family representatives will be led by the oldest family member. The representatives of the bride's family are usually those who have been married. The recipients of the trays are the groom's family representatives, who will wait at the gate of the house or venue.

2. The groom's representatives will consist of unmarried people. Each person will carry a tray to be given one at a time, starting from the tray that's meant for the bride's parents to the brides' items.

3. Then, all the groom's representatives will get pocket money from the bride's family members as a prayer for their love, hoping they'll meet their soulmate soon.

4. The procession will be continued with an introductory speech of the two families in front of the guests. The bride and groom will also pay their respect to both parents.

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Credit: Moire Photography

4. Luncheon

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Credit: All Seasons Photo

A lunch set provided by the bride's family will bring this entire procession to an end. Most of them will usually serve some oriental food such as porridge and mee sua noodle soup that comes with savory cuts of meat.

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That's all! Of course, you can also ask some help from your wedding organizer who is more experienced executing this kind of occasion. Additionally, you might also want to check out some local vendors who supply all these betrothal items and pack them beautifully into trays. Consult your needs and wants with them so you can adjust the budget and taste for this event accordingly. Please let us know in the comment box below if you have any additional information about Sangjit!

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