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Symbolic Food for a Traditional Chinese Wedding

Roast pig - In Guangdong and Hubei Province , a succulent offering of roast pig was sent to the bride's family on the third day after a wedding as a sign of the groom's family acceptance and pleasure with their new daughter-in-law.

Wild goose - A wild goose is the quintessential symbol of marital harmony and fidelity. Because geese mate for life and migrate together from season to season, they are considered dependable, reliable creatures. Pictures of wild geese flying in pairs make very appropriate wedding presents. If wild geese cannot be obtained for a betrothal gift, domestic geese are permissible or even, as a last resort, humble chicken will do.

Egg soup - On the day of the wedding, the groom is cordially served a bowl of soup upon his arrival at the bride's home. It contains an unbroken soft-boiled egg which he is expected to break to symbolize the bride's leave-taking from her family. Sometimes the groom's mother-in-law will put a hard-boiled egg in the soup, making him try a little harder to break the yolk in order to gain his bride.

Pig's heart - The bride packages together a pig's heart along with other ingredients to make a soup for her in-laws on the day of the wedding to suggest that they are "all of one heart".

Fruits and Nuts - Because a wealth of puns can be made from Chinese names for fruits and nuts, they are symbolically used during the wedding ceremony to imply many children and good fortune. For example, folded inside the marriage quilt, one might find peanuts, dates and nuts - the second syllable in the word for peanut is "sheng", which is homophonous with the word "birth" and the word for date ("zaozi") sounds the same as the "early arrival of a male son". For the same reason, when the bride is presented in the main hall to her mother-in-law, she may be offered a plate of dates and chestnuts with a cup of fragrant tea.

Tea - A gift of tea (once an expensive commodity) was highly regarded in China 's past, this it was often used as an engagement present for the bride-to-be. Today, accepting the "gift of tea" is synonymous with the term for engagement.


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Last Modified: 11/28/11.