Traditionally, Chinese wedding celebrations lasted for three days, which included a number of customs and rites. Today, however, modern couples tend to pack all of the customs into just one day if they are doing a traditional Chinese wedding. One such custom is the bride’s home visit. This is the first visit that the bride takes back to her home as a married woman, and traditionally this visit came only on the third day of the wedding celebrations. Nowadays, brides change from their Western-style wedding gowns into a traditional Chinese qipao or other dress to symbolize the passing of three days and signal the home visit.
Traditions for the Bride’s Home Visit
The bride is usually escorted to her family home from her new marriage home by her younger brother. If she does not have a younger brother, she might ask a trusted friend or relative to play the role instead. The brother calls to their marriage home, bringing along a gift basket filled with perfumes and soaps for his sister. Typically, the brother arrives to the marriage home in the bridal sedan and then escorts his sister back to their family home.
Gifts for the Bride’s Home Visit
It is important that the bride not arrive home to her parents’ house without some gifts for her parents and relatives. Traditionally, these included sugar cane and a rooster and hen, though nowadays, red envelopes are offered instead.
Some traditional foods are also brought as gifts for the bride’s parents. Roast pig is an especially important food to bring, especially for Cantonese families. Candied peanuts and sesame biscuits are also brought along, as well as mandarin oranges, which symbolize good fortune.
The bride’s parents also present their daughter and her new husband with a rooster and hen, which are supposed to be put under the bridal bed. Whichever animal emerges first will indicate the gender of the couple’s first child.
The bride’s home visit culminates in a traditional tea ceremony. It is during this ceremony that the groom is introduced formally to the bride’s parents for the first time. The bride is also presented with jewelry and small gifts during this time, and the couple traditionally eat a sweet soup together to commemorate their new marriage.