Marriage Customs

The traditional wooing and marriage customs of the Shui minority has the characteristics of both simplicity and formality. The day of the village fair day is the best opportunity for young people to find their spouses. After having carefully groomed themselves, lads and maids go to the fair with a small group of congenial friends.

The young men stroll aimlessly in the market, having no intention of buying or selling anything, but their eyes are searching intensely, and their hearts calculating busily. Then the boys make an agreement: you catch A, I catch B, he catches C.

When all this is settled, they will approach the girls in handsome manner, pay their respects, and indulge in clever chatter.

After this "warm-up," the proper lad is pushed by his pals to the chosen girl as arranged.

The couple are thrust together several times by their respective friends. The decided young man rushes to the girl deliberately; the girl has half a mind to escape; the others cheer and yell.

After the jubilant incident, hardly any reserve remains. The proposal of love followed is very straightforward. "Do you like me? Follow me if you do."

The girl gives a nod in acquiescence. After a period of time varying from two or three months to a couple of years for deeper understanding of each other, they will select an auspicious day to hold the wedding ceremony.

The wedding rite is both traditional and ceremonious. On the wedding day, people sing but do not dance. The singing competition will last all night into the next morning.

The Shui will also marry outside their own ethnic group. It is not that uncommon for Shui woman to marry a man of Han, Miao or Tong minority, or a Shui man to marry a woman of other ethnic background.

( China Daily September 4, 2002)