Even Death Can’t Stop Cold Feet

by M-Gillies

If a match is found, a formal wedding ceremony is held in a temple and paper stand-ins are used for the bride and groom which are burned at the end of the ceremony along with the rest of the offerings.

For some families, family reunions are affairs that occur every decade or so, especially when family members are spread out across the country or even the world. Unless these are planned events, or even traditional annual gatherings, some family members may even go years without seeing one another until a wedding or a funeral obligates them to make that journey home. In Chinese tradition, the marriage of one or both parties who are deceased is an accepted practice known as ghost marriages.

Generally arranged by the family of the deceased, ghost marriages are performed for a number of reasons which include, the marriage of a couple previously engaged before one member’s death, the integration of an unmarried daughter into a patrilineage, endurance of a continuing family line, or to maintain that no younger brother be married prior to an elder brother.

With Chinese tradition, it is said that any unmarried daughter is considered an embarrassment to the family

While families can arrange ghost marriages on their own, there are consultants they can hire, who will undertake the task of locating a suitable significant other for the deceased member who shares a favorable horoscope.

If a family chooses not to use the aid of a priest or diviner, believing that the groom to the ghost bride will identify themselves through destiny, the family will leave a red envelope as bait in the middle of the road. Once the envelope is picked up by a passer-by, they reveal themselves and announce his status as being the chosen bridegroom.

In another practice of ghost marriages, grieving parents of a deceased son will search for a suitable dead woman to be his bride, and upon finding one, the pair are buried together as a married couple as a means of ensuring their son’s contentment in the afterlife.

Though the practice may seem rather archaic, it is a custom that is still maintained to this day and finds its roots in ancestor worship, which says that even after death, people continue to exist and that the living are obligated to tend to their wants or risk consequences.

Read more:

What is A Ghost Marriage?

Dead Bachelors in Remote China Still Find Wives | New York Times

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