Saturday, March 10, 2007

Marriage in the Year of the Golden Pig

This week we had the joyous opportunity to celebrate the marriage of one of my young staff members, in this, the Year of the Golden Pig.

I'm not going to pretend to understand much about Chinese astrology, but I know that this is the Year of the Golden Pig, and that Lam and her new husband were told that their lucky date for marriage in this year was March 8th. I couldn't help but note that is also the date for International Women's Day - a day treated almost like a second Valentine's Day here for all of the flowers and gifts and jewelry given to women. I hope that bodes good luck for a strong and equal partnership in this wedding.

So, what does a Vietnamese wedding consist of? Lots of food, and lots of alcohol (though in our case our glasses only contained sprite, much to the consternation of a very drunk uncle - the bar was officially closed when we got there.)

Actually, it starts early for the bride, who's business it is to become something of a cross between a fairy and a princess. I am amazed at the amazing transformations that take place in these already beautiful young women. They are absolute artists in applying makeup and arranging hairstyles to become that ethereal goddess-for-a-day that so many American high-school prom girls strive for. The difference here is, they achieve it. Then the photography captures the fairy-tale moment in such a way that the wedding photos you see hanging in homes are not in fact the pictures of the everyday people living everyday lives in the house.

Then it is off to the bride's family's home for the first meet-greet-and eat events. We were originally invited to the bride's party as she's our staff member, but as it was during working hours and we all couldn't attend, we begged to be deferred to the afternoon event in honor of the groom. That was granted - and then we only arrived as the very last guests to come to eat. There were still plenty of people there enjoying the vodka that still flowed freely. The bride and groom then graced our table with their presence for a meal - my first question was how many times they had been forced to do this during the day. The staff assured me that in fact, this was probably the first chance the couple had had a chance to sit down and eat anything all day. That made me feel better and we gladly dug into the wedding feast.

The hall had emptied out by the time we finished eating (limiting alcohol will do that). I asked what would happen next - if the couple was free to retire after that. One of my staff members said that on her wedding day the couple went to the wedding chamber after the dinner had ended only to discover several of her aunts asleep on the bed. Well, apparently it's a piece of good luck for lots of relatives (female relatives) to "nap" on the wedding bed in order to ensure lots of children to the family. But somehow falling asleep on the bed on the wedding night seems to be more along the lines of bad luck in my opinion...

Well, I hope we managed to scare off the sleepy relatives before we left, and we said our farewells to the happy but exhausted looking couple and left them to do whatever Vietnamese newlyweds can (or want to) do on their first night together.

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