Thursday, June 11, 2015

Etiquette and Wedding Customs

Traditional Mongolian clothing ~ “However much a Chinese girl may become Christianized there are generally several points of Mongolian etiquette which she expects to observe rigidly at her wedding.”
How Mrs. Fong Fung Regulated Her Nephew's Wedding Feast — A Unique Chinese Marriage Celebrated at the Methodist Mission

The Methodist Mission, on Washington Street, was the scene of a unique Chinese wedding last night. Ngan Kuk was the bride. Five years ago she was rescued from slavery and brought into the home, and since that time, little by little, she has learned Western ways and has abjured her idols, her ancestors and her heathen customs. But, however much a Chinese girl may become Christianized there are generally several points of Mongolian etiquette which she expects to observe rigidly at her wedding.

On that occasion, if on no other, she will paint her face, adorn her head and put on attire more gorgeous than a peacock's tail. She will also refuse the dainties of the marriage feast and refrain from casting even a sidelong glance at the bridegroom. When Ngan Kuk accepted the hand and heart of Chan Hay, a convert of the mission, she expected that her wedding feast would be as regal as the circumstances of the groom would permit, but fate, in the shape of the gentleman's aunt, willed otherwise. It is a Chinese custom that when a man who is about to get married has a mother she shall manage and control all the arrangements for his wedding. There are so few mothers-in-law in Chinatown, that this custom has almost fallen into abeyance.

Chan Hay had no mother, but he had an aunt — Mrs. Fong Fung— who has always been to him as a parent, and this lady made her presence felt at last night's wedding. She is the wife of a well-to-do Chinese merchant, and has been a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal church for six years. She disapproves of frivolity in dress or deportment, and she considers Chinese custom and etiquette little short of sinful. It was owing to Mrs. Fong Fung's religious scruples that the bride wore no finery last night, and was simply arrayed in a blue blouse and a black shirt, with neat but not gaudy embroidery. The groom's attire was marked by the same absence of extravagance in dress, and as for Mrs. Fong Fung herself nothing could have been simpler than her attire. She was almost a Chinese tailor-made lady.

Rev. Dr. Masters, the head of the mission, performed the ceremony and throughout the whole, proceedings were conducted on the American plan, without the least particle of heathen custom or etiquette. There were about 150 American and Chinese visitors present and at the feast which followed the wedding, they all, the bride included, sat down in tbe big schoolroom of the mission to prettily decorated tables and partook of light refreshments prepared in American style. People declared it was the most unique Chinese wedding they had ever witnessed.
San Francisco, 1896

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia