Today, Chinese traditions and family customs that have been passed on for generations remain to be an important part of Hong Kong weddings. One of these important Chinese traditions is the hair combing ceremony. This tradition dates back to ancient times and symbolizes the transition into adulthood. Originally, it was conducted when a male reached his 20’s, and for females, at around 15 years of age. After this ceremony, a young man or woman was deemed ready for marriage. Through the years, this tradition evolved and became a pre-wedding ritual. Planning on including the hair combing ceremony to your pre-wedding traditional activities? Here’s what you need to know.
[Photo via @clarissalum]
When and where is the ceremony performed?
The hair combing ceremony is usually performed the night before the wedding or early in the morning of the wedding day. The actual time varies according to the lucky time of the Chinese calendar. It is commonly performed at the bride and groom’s respective homes separately.
Who take part in the ceremony?
Aside from the bride and groom, a person of good fortune must be there to perform the ceremony. A person is considered to have good fortune if his or her parents and children are present and healthy. Both a man and woman can perform the ceremony but usually a woman will do this practice. If the mothers of the couple meet this requirement, they may perform it. If not, another relative may do so. In ancient times, the families of the couple attended the ceremony as well because this is considered a major milestone in one’s life–entering into adulthood was a celebrated life event. Today, the family of the couple may still attend but it’s not common anymore for practical reasons.
[Photo via @naturallyyouneed]
What materials are needed for the ceremony?
Here are the materials needed for the hair combing ceremony:
- pair of dragon phoenix candles
- a set of Thuja leaves
- a plate of lotus seeds
- dried longans
- roasted pork and chicken
- joss sticks
- 3 bowls of glutinous rice ball soup
(each inside with 6 or 9 rice balls)
Specifically for the bride:
- a pair of round combs
- a mirror
- red string
- a ruler
- sewing kit
Specifically for the groom:
- a pair of pointed comb
- a mirror
- red string
How is it performed?
Usually the groom will perform the ceremony half hour before the bride. First, the bride and groom take a bath in water that is infused with pomelo leaves–which are believed to ward off evil spirits–and slip into fresh new nightwear. They usually wear red or pink–red is the lucky color for Chinese celebrations. They will then sit by a window where they can see the moonlight, and the items mentioned will be prepared. All of these materials are important as they symbolize a fruitful marriage.
To start the ceremony, the dragon phoenix candles will be lit. After this, the bride and groom will pray to the heavens and their ancestors. Then, the hair will be combed four times by the person of good fortune while these four lines are recited:
May you be together all your lives from beginning till the end.
May you have a harmonious intimate marriage till old age.
May you fill your home with your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren all over the place.
May you enjoy abundant wealth and an everlasting marriage.
After the combing is finished, the groom will put the Thuja leaves and red string in his pocket, and the bride will tie these onto her hair. Then they will eat the rice balls, which represents a perfect and long-term marriage. Once the dragon phoenix candles burns out, the ceremony is finished, and the couple can go to sleep.
[Photo via @romantique_soleil]