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Unique Chinese Customs in Hui'an,
Fujian Province
by courtesy of Mr. Qiu Huanxing and Mr. Lu Zhongmin,
the authors of Folk Customs of China


A woman of Hui'an in traditional garments.Hui'an County is only 30 kilometers away from Quanzhou. The dress of the women in the fishing villages on Chongwu island of Hui'an County is very interesting. They wear different-coloured jackets, which are very short and narrow. Their jackets are so short that they also like to wear big bamboo hats to cover their heads. The big hats and large kerchiefs on their heads shield their faces.

There are different sayings about the costumes of the women in Hui'an. It is said that they might be descended from the Yue tribe of ancient times. Hui'an people have lived there for generations. They seldom have contacts with people outside. Today the women there still dress like this because they want to preserve their traditions.

The marriage customs are unusual. At a wedding ceremony, the bride with a red cloth covering her head and face is led by a bridesmaid to the groom's home. To the sound of firecrackers, the bride and bridesmaid walk around the bonfire in front of the bridegroom's house to drive monsters and ghosts away and to pray for safety for the family. When the bride enters the house after the wedding ceremony, the groom takes the red cloth off with a steel beam. Then the bride goes to the bridal chamber.

But the newly married couple is not allowed to stay in the bridal chamber together. The bride usually stays with a neighbor or asks her bridesmaids to stay with her in the bridal chamber or she sits at the table alone until dawn. The groom has to stay at a friend's home for the night.

The next day, the bride calls to pay respects to her husband's ancestors and her parents-in-law. At the same time, she gives gifts to the elder members of the family and the relatives. On the morning of the third day, the bridegroom's sister leads the way to a well for the bride. The bride carries two buckets of water back.

Within five days, the bride has to obey all sorts of customs. After the five days, she can go to her mother's home. After that, the bride will love with her parents. She is only allowed to go to her husband's home on the Spring Festival, the Clear and Bright Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival. Two Hui'an women are lugging stone.She will continue to do this until she gives birth to the first child. Some minority nationalities also retain the custom that women after marriage still stay at their parents' home. This may be a remnant custom from the matriarchal society. There may be some other reasons for are reluctant to leave their parents or because they are afraid of having babies. They can't help their parents to support their families.

In the past, there were customs to keep the newly married couples apart. When newly married couples met, they were not allowed to talk. The woman looked at her husband as if he was a stranger. A woman would be mocked if she broke her pledge. In recent years, people in this area have had more contact with the outside world and they have been influenced by the marriage law. For these reasons, young people today refuse to obey old customs. They arrange their marriage by themselves. Old marriage customs are fast on their way out.



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