What is Vietnamese tea ceremony?
Traditional Vietnamese often include tea ceremony in the wedding preparation process. The point of this occasion is that the groom’s family usually visits the bride’s family and brings a lot of gifts as dowry.
Tea ceremony (Đám Hỏi or Ăn Hỏi in Vietnamese) takes place nearly one month or one week before the actual wedding. But to determine the exact day the bride’s mother ask advice from Buddhist monk or a fortune-teller. They take into consideration couple’s horoscopes to recommend the most suitable data for both tea ceremony and wedding. Vietnamese believe that following their advices will guarantee happy marriage in future.
Actually, in some extents, the Vietnamese tea ceremony is similar to the wedding, but mostly it is simpler and with some variations.
Mainly, the ceremony is held at the bride’s house. Her family is supposed to tidy and decorate the house with flowers, and even archways. It makes neighbors and other people know that there is an engagement at their home.
As it was mentioned before, the groom’s family and friends prepare gifts as dowry. These gifts include wine, fruits, green tea, traditional cakes, tobacco, jewelry, a roasted pig, and others. They are wrapped in red paper or cloth and carried by the younger unmarried male member of the groom’s family. The amount of each gift is even (roasted pig is an exception), but the amount of boxes is odd. It is because for Vietnamese odd numbers and red color symbolize luck and prosperity for groom and bride.
Both the bride and groom wear the traditional clothes – the Ao Dai (Vietnamese long dress). It has a fitted top with floor length panels and a pair of accompanying pants. The bride’s dress is much more extravagant and detailed than her bridesmaids’ or the groom’s. With Ao Dai, the bride also wears a circular headdress Khan Dong.
Traditionally, together with the groom his family and close friends go to the bride’s house. There, the groom’s representative, the elderly member of the family, knocks on the door and asks for permission to come in. Once the bride’s family agreed, the bridesmaids will line up outside of the house to await the groomsmen and receive the gift boxes. Bridesmaids bring these boxes into the house and put on the table so that people can see them at first sight. After that, the groom’s parents, the groom himself, close family members, and then the groomsmen come in.
Until the dowry is unwrapped and approved by the future bride’s family she doesn’t show up in public and sit in the separate room. Her mother will walk her out to meet the future groom and his family. The bride and groom light incense and bow to the altar to express respect and ask for blessings from the ancestors. Sometimes, the couple bows to the parents, and then bows to each other.
The couple receives the tea tray and pours the tea into two small tea cups for every guest. But firstly, they offer tea to the eldest family members. This way they express gratitude to all persons, who came and took part in such an important event.
After drinking the tea, the family members congratulate the bride and groom and give them advices for a long and happy marriage.
The tea ceremony ends with a banquet that was prepared by both families.
The bride’s family usually returns half of the gifts to the groom’s side as an appreciation of their generosity. It is also done to show that they’re now one family, and everything should be shared.
Today, there many options to celebrate tea ceremony like combined tea ceremonies held in one location with the wedding. Or tea ceremonies held the day before so the big wedding day has fewer activities and be simpler. But the point stays the same: tea ceremony is about showing respect, preserving traditions, and uniting people.
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