On 1 June 2013, I attended the wedding of one of my student friends, who used the “English” name Bush, in his home town of Handan, still in Hebei Province, but a long way from Qinhuangdao. Interestingly, it was the birthplace of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, after whom Qinhuangdao is named. I had met Bush’s bride before on some of her visits to Qinhuangdao. The wedding was a major event, with hundreds of guests, including several more of my former students, and was largely traditional – by which I don’t mean that it was all done in traditional costumes, but that it included many traditional elements.

I arrived in the afternoon of the day before the wedding, had a quiet dinner in a dumpling restaurant near the hotel, woke up with a stomach upset, and spent the morning with another student friend, trying to contain what little was left in my digestive system, while seeing the major historical and tourist attraction in central Handan, in very hot and humid weather (it was like walking through steam), then went off to the wedding (feeling slightly better at the beginning, and much better by evening).

The major attraction was (and probably still is) Congtai Terrace and its surrounding park.
Located in the northeastern part of Handan, Congtai Terrace was built 2,300 years ago for Duke Wuling of Zhao State during the Warring States Period (B.C. 325 – 299). It was used for watching military parades and theatrical performances. 

The park is used by the locals, like most other parks in China, as a place to exercise in the morning, dance in the evening, and play with their children.

The preliminary stage of the wedding was the collection of the bride by the groom and his friends, followed by what would once have been a parade around the village, but in this particular case was more like a drive around the block – since bride and groom grew up almost directly opposite each other in the same housing zone – then off to the actual ceremony (which is a private affair), before the reception.

The first picture above is of the bride’s room at home, specially decorated, red being associated with good fortune, with the character for double-happiness on the wall.

The reception was surprisingly (for me) large, with a banquet, speeches, etc. I was seated at a table with more of my students, mostly from Handan. The last picture is of a collection of used rail tickets symbolising (indeed, showing some of) the many journeys the couple made to visit each other, while studying in different cities.

%d bloggers like this: