After publishing my last blog post, a reader, presumably non-Chinese nor a local, asked what “gatecrashing” is.
Cohabitation is not common here and most Singaporeans live with their parents before they marry. But like western weddings, the groom is not permitted to see the bride the day before their wedding. Gatecrashing refers to the series of challenges the jie mei give to the groom and his groomsmen (兄弟; “xiong di”) to complete before he is allowed into the bride’s house to fetch her.
For a Chinese wedding, this has to be done at an auspicious time in order that the married couple starts off on the right foot, and it is usually in the early morning (around 8:00 AM). The auspicious timing is calculated by a fortune-teller based on the couple’s individual birth dates and times as well as the characters in their Chinese names. The same formula is also used to calculate the wedding date.
The gatecrashing tasks are designed to make the groom prove his worth to marry the bride. They can include a song-and-dance number, feats of athleticism, eating a spoonful of wasabi, etc.
However, the jie mei may not necessarily let the groom and the xiong di pass after they complete all the games. It is common for the groom to give ang paos (红包; red packets) to the jie mei to bribe their way in. Ang pao amounts vary, but each jie mei could easily receive $50.
In short, you make the guys sweat before they get to see the girl, and you get cash.
Needless to say, I am excited about next week’s gatecrashing.