Weddings are happy times that are meant to bring joy, laughter, and tears among the family and friends of the couple. However, the true meaning behind the expression "tears of joy" can be subjective across different parts of the world.
The Tujia ethnic minority in China fits the bill of having a weird wedding tradition centered around a crying bride who cries for at least one hour every day, a month or more before her wedding. In this minority, tears are considered to be a test of a girl's ability and virtue to coexist in a successful marriage. Here are some interesting facts about this crying phenomenon:
- A ‘good' girl starts to learn how to cry from the age of twelve taught by someone with experience
- If a bride-to-be does not cry, she is perceived to have bad manners and becomes the black sheep or laughing-stock of her community
- At the age of fifteen, girls have crying competitions where they compare their finesse of the art. Often times, methods of crying are discussed
- Special songs are sung when weeping for marriage and are targeted at members of the family, the matchmaker, and ancestors in sad tones
- The girls are genuinely sad and sing against their entry into an arranged marriage
- One girl crying signifies crying for her individual destiny, family's affection and against the feudalistic system while two girls crying refers to "sister crying." This involves the bride-to-be crying first proceeded by the second girl who cries to commiserate with her.
- The west Sichuan province refers to this practice as "Zuo Tang" which means sitting in the hall.
- Sometimes, girls cry for as little as ten days to her wedding.
Times have changed, and Tujia girls are free to marry whoever they want. However, they still observe their tradition of crying.