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Engagement Ceremony

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Chapter Summary

It was traditional for Han people to examine the 'eight characters' of a man and a woman to see if they 'matched' before engagement was arranged. The characters were in four pairs, indicating the year, month, day and hour of a person's birth, each pair consisting of one Heavenly Stem and one Earthly Branch, used in fortune-telling. The Kam people of Xiangye adopted a fortune-telling approach to engagement, but they were unable to calculate whether the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches matched because they did not generally keep track of birthdates. After the engagement ceremony, despite any disaffection or opposition from the partners in the engagement, the two families became united as relatives through marriage. At festivals and celebrations they visited each other, exchanging gifts. Together both sets of parents set an auspicious date for the wedding.

Keywords: engagement ceremony; fortune-telling approach; Han people; marriage; Xiangye

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