In ancient China most of people got married with the help of a matchmaker and the arrangements of their parents. The man's side, led by the matchmaker, would visit the girl's family to confirm each other's stance. The step is called xiangqin (to confirm attitudes).
Nowadays, there are millions of single people in big cities like Shanghai and Beijing, many of them women, so the traditional practice of xiangqin, with more than 1,000 years of history behind it, has made a comeback in modern Chinese life.
Hundreds of parents of white-collar children gather together to choose suitable objects for their children's marriage in parks such as Zhongshan Park, and Zi Zhu Yuan Park in Beijing, since the end of 2004. They bring information, including their child's name, gender, profession and requirements of marriage, and play the role of matchmaker. It naturally develops as a "meeting to choose the best person for their children's marriage."
Every Thursday and Sunday, a man named Zhang goes to Zhongshan Park to choose a suitable partner for his daughter. Now he is familiar with persons there. "I do not think my daughter is unusual because there are many old and unmarried children here," he said. "I want to chat with persons here although I have not found the suitable object for my daughter."
"The traditional idea is that 'the male and the female should get married when they grow up,'" said Xu You-run of the center of mental health for youth in Beijing's Chaoyang district. "So Chinese parents will worry about their children's marriage, when they are at a certain age. In fact, it is useless." She noted that young people are busy with work, and have no time for romance.
Most of the children even do not see the pictures brought back by parents. Chen Tao, a 33-year-old IT professional, thinks that it is his private business to find a mate. It presents a different idea about marriage between two generations that the parents want to find a suitable person for their children to marry. Li Song, a 30-year-old woman, works in a government department. "I will find a man of my heart sooner or later if we have a predestined relationship," she said. "The love of the generation of parents is the prolongation of love of family. It is definitely unacceptable form our generation."
Besides the concern of parents, a single person's colleagues, schoolfellows, friends will introduce suitable mates for them. Also, speed dating such as 8-minute-dating is rather popular in cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou.
With the fall of night, Li Jing-ming's bar has more guests than before; he sends cards, wine, and wishes to those independent and lonely young people. Li Jing-ming said he believes that "their another half is waiting in a quiet corner for their object of heart."
Chinese Keepsake of Love
Jequirity (love pea)
Jequirity is an old keepsake representing that two loves miss each other. It is said that a man went out for a battle in ancient China, and his wife leaned against a tree to pray for her husband every day. She cried under the tree because she missed her love. After her tears were dry, a drop of fresh blood flowed from her eyes. The blood drop melted into red pea, which took roots and grew into a large tree, producing many red peas. Thus, people call it the "love pea."
Fragrant bag is a bag used to hold spice. It is a kind of decoration carried by people or put in a mosquito net. Its history can be traced into the pre-Qin period. In the past, young people paid respects to their elders with the fragrant bag. The fragrant bag was usually carried, so loves exchange it as a gift to express their love.
Truelove knot is the keepsake of love used to express a solemn pledge of love from of old. Now it is regarded publicly as a token of engagement in Chinese folk society. On their night of their marriages, both the husband and wife would knot their long hair together, and promise to each other forever.
In ancient China, hair was called "threadlike things of troubles" (so monks will cut their hair off completely.). Combs can arrange hairs, so people think of it as a way to clear their troubled minds. I It also has the meaning of "smooth and prosper," so combs represent people's good wishes.
Handkerchiefs as a keepsake of love began in the Tang dynasty. There is a story that Zhang Sheng and Cui Ying-ying wrote poems in handkerchiefs and exchanged it to express their love in Yuan Zhen's "The Story of Mandarin Duck." In the Tang dynasty, many girls printed their lips in white handkerchief to present to the man they loved. In the Song dynasty, girls usually printed their eyebrows in the white handkerchief.
Some people choose to be alone and refuse to get married because of their busy life, indifferent attitude towards relationships, unpromising personality, and some problems which cannot solved. Shaqing, a 37 year-old teacher of a university said, "Now it is nearly impossible for young people to compromise themselves to others, and if you compromise, your love will be degraded."