SAME COUPLE, SECOND WEDDING: A STUDY OF CHINA'S CHONGFENG HUAZHU CUSTOM FROM THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY TO THE MID-TWENTIETH CENTURY

Project: Research project

Project Details

Description

The major objective of this project is to undertake a thorough study of the custom of chongfeng huazhu 重逢花燭 from the eighteenth century to the mid-twentieth century in China. Huazhu refers to the decorative candles used for traditional weddings. Chongfeng huazhu basically means to light up the wedding candles once again. According to the chongfeng huazhu practice, long-lived couples were asked to run another wedding to celebrate their sixtieth anniversary. With the help of their offspring and family members, old couples put on the traditional wedding costumes once again, and re-performed every part of their original wedding ceremony, including setting up the fancy candles in the bridal chamber.

Chongfeng huazhu is also known as chongxie huazhu 重諧花燭, chongxing huazhu 重行花 燭, and chongyuan huazhu 重圓花燭. A period of sixty years is considered as a complete cycle in Chinese history, honoring the sexagenary system formed by ten heavenly stems (tiangan 天干) and twelve earthly branches (dizhi 地支). As the ten heavenly stems and the twelve earthly branches have made up sixty terms to reckon time, one cycle of sixty years is completed in the sense that starting from the sixty-first year the stem-branch labels will be repeating. As human lifespan was much shorter in previous centuries, one would have found it a true blessing if one lived long enough to celebrate the sixtieth birthday. Therefore, sixty years of age is beautifully termed as huajia (花甲). However, further luck is necessary for a pair of husband and wife to live long enough to celebrate their sixty years of marriage, meaning that both of them would have to be at least seventy some years old. As such, cases of chongfeng huazhu were rare and if that happened, people found it extremely justified to celebrate.

It is commonly perceived that the idea of wedding anniversary celebration is imported from the West. This project, first of its kind, will challenge the assumption that China herself had not developed any wedding anniversary celebration prior to the twentieth- century worldwide popularity of such activities. Chongfeng huazhu is basically a Chinese version of what we understood as a diamond wedding anniversary in the West. This project will provide a comprehensive account of its origins, development, and impact on both the private and public spheres.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date1/11/1731/10/19

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality

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