RSS FEED Subscribe in iTunes

Main Topic: A Countryside Wedding

Hosts: Clyde Warden

Weddings, especially wedding banquets, are a part of Chinese culture most often seen by Westerners. Westerners are often surprised that a Chinese wedding is little more than a reception. Brides dressed in white, grooms dressed in suits, Canon in D processional music, and numerous other surface artifacts have been incorporated into the wedding banquet. This can leave the impression that Chinese weddings have adopted Western behaviors, or maybe even Western values, or maybe the world is flat, or whatever nonsense you can think of. In fact, the banquet is only one part of the wedding ceremony. It is an important part, but a part that can be executed in an infinite number of ways. It just needs to be done. The other parts of the wedding also need to be completed, but they are out of site of most foreigners. In this episode, Clyde follows the groom and bride through their day of ritual. The video ends up at a huge banquet, with some very mainstream values that include loud syncopated noise (music), lots of food, plenty of beer, and pole dancing. Wedding Symbol

The commercial aspect of the wedding, outside of the banquet, is limited. One of the key paid aspects is the matchmaker, who plays a central role throughout. Although our couple met on their own, a matchmaker runs the whole process with an emphasis on following all required rituals. In the video, she can often be seen directing participants in the correct behaviors. Being married has its legal side, at the courthouse, and the ritual side, at the family temple. In this video, we see the central role of the family temple. These are not just some decorated rooms, but rather central parts of Chinese culture. The values observed here are core to Chinese culture and vital for anyone interested in studying Chinese consumers.

I am always amazed by how much these values are overlooked by researchers. Two reasons for this. First, the whole idea of religion is not quantified in Asia in the same was as in the West. So when asked about religion, Chinese tend to think they are not participants in any organized religion. This error is always happening when Western researchers look at Asia. Because definitions differ so drastically, the questions are simply asked in the wrong way. Chinese tend to have at least some understanding of the Western conceptualization of religion, while Western researchers often know nothing of the Asian traditions--further complicating matters. Secondly, Western researchers tend to be exposed to students traveling to USA and European universities. These young people are like young people everywhere in that they have yet to be well enculturated within their own culture. Just fresh out the home, where they were very well sheltered, they know of the temple room, but what it does is vague to them (and what kind of young person can afford expensive overseas universities--the kind that is rich or the kind that never saw daylight from studying so much). These problems directly confound established research methods. Marketing researchers have an over-reliance on regression methods and when their survey results show younger people have less emphasis on religious rituals, they often conclude these values are fading away and in the future will fade out. Such conclusions are flat wrong. Regression of a single cross sectional sample is not longitudinal. Making any temporal assumptions very risky. Religion is in a major growth stage throughout China. Taiwan has seen a huge growth in organized religions, mainly Budhists, but also rituals in general (mostly related to Taoism). You cannot go anywhere in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan on a Lunar holiday without seeing spirit money being burned.

The banquet is more commercial, both in the social exchange going on and the actual money changing hands. Joe (Show 42) gave us a good look at the wedding baquet, the wedding photo industry, and other aspects of getting married in a Chinese setting. In this video, watch for the beer promotion for Taiwan Beer and the political candidate rounding up votes. When it is all over, our newlyweds visit the courthouse, where their ID cards are reissued with spouses names (Chinese women do not adopt the husband's family name but spouses name are listed on IDs). The published educational material given to our newlyweds emphasizes having children (Taiwan has one of the lowest birthrates in the world). Material often includes translations in Vietmenese due to the popularity of countryside men marrying Vietnamese women (a big industry throughout Asia where young women prefer to stay single and/or make financial demands of suiters that not many men can meet). In Taiwan, there are even cable channels dedicated to showing what is available for men looking for wifes from Vietnam.

All this stuff that goes beforehand you haven't seen.

Listen To The Show (Audio Only):

Length: 12 minutes. Download MP3 5.31MB (Right click->Save As).

On Location

Watch The Show (Video & Audio):

From Nantou, Taiwan, Clyde presents.
Length: 12 minutes.

iPod (H.264 fast download 320x240) Download MP4 66.68MB (Right click->Save As).
QuickTime Download MOV 85.95MB (Right click->Save As).
Windows Media Download WMV 48.14MB (Right click->Save As).
High Quality mp4 H.264(640x480) Download high quality mp4 87.24MB (Right click->Save As).


Show Links:

Bottom Line:

  • Traditional rituals represent core cultural values.
  • Far from dying away, religious Chinese rituals are stronger than ever, but not often seen by Westerners.
  • Numerous gifts between the families must be bought--normally from local suppliers..
  • Before the banquet, the rituals emphasize the exchange between the families..
  • The point of actual marriage is when the bride is brought into the groom's family at the family alter.
Category: Videocasts

Login Form

Create a new account or use your GMail credentials to sign in.