POL & DEBBIE | TING HUN CEREMONY
Edsa Shangrila Hotel
One of the most important traditions is the engagement ceremony, or the Ting Hun. Similar to the Filipino tradition of “pamamanhikan,” the Ting Hun is a form of betrothal in which a formal announcement of the engagement is made. During the ceremony, the groom’s family presents “gifts,” for instance, jewelry and goods, to the bride’s family as a way of acknowledging the effort of the bride’s parents in raising her. In turn, by accepting the gifts, the bride’s family pledges her to the groom.
As the Chinese saying goes: “all good things come in pairs.” It is therefore quite common for the Chinese to repeat characters even in their brand names. Interestingly, the character Sanghee, or double happiness 囍, created as a sign for wedding occasions, also comes in pairs. Piling up two Chinese characters – “喜” (Happiness) into “喜喜” (Double Happiness) – serves not only as a symbol for more happiness but as an indicator that the newly engaged will soon become a couple.
The Chinese believe that fruits (especially the round ones) symbolize good luck and prosperity. Further, the Chinese word for orange sounds like wealth. Pomelo, in turn, signifies abundance, as the Chinese word for this grapefruit means “to have.”
A procession led by the groom and his family will then take place. The groom enters the venue and goes down the aisle carrying a box of corsage or a bouquet of flowers.
The bride then enters the room walking backwards. This symbolizes the avoidance of negative energy in the room. It also prevents the bride from seeing the groom. The bride is turned clockwise three times with the help of a “lucky lady.” This lady, according to Chinese custom, should be married with kids, healthy, and wealthy. She will serve as a “role model” for the bride to emulate. The bride can now take a look at her groom.
Female relative of the bride then serves welcome drinks to the members of the entourage. The juice, which symbolizes happiness and good luck, is served from eldest to youngest members of the entourage, to signify respect for the elders. The marrying couple is then served last.
Chocolates, candies, and other sweets. Similar to cake, these goodies also symbolize a sweet beginning for the couple.
The engagement ceremony is a common practice in mainland China. This came about because of the presence of “matchmakers” who would arrange for couples to meet. The families of the couples knew of each other only through the “matchmaker,” so a display of gifts was necessary in order to assure the bride’s family that she will be taken care of. These gifts are called Ke Tseng or dowry. As the Chinese migrated to the Philippines, they took these rituals with them and practiced these in varied contexts.
The necklace, bangle, and watches are a symbol of the financial capacity of the groom to provide for the bride.
After the drinks, the gift-giving ceremony takes place and the jewelry gifts will be worn by the couple. Once all the gifts have been exchanged, the tea ceremony is then conducted. For the Chinese, tea is a very important component of any celebration because it symbolizes respect. During the tea drinking ceremony, the bride serves the groom’s family, from the eldest member to the youngest members. The groom then does the same thing for the family of the bride.
The engagement ceremony is a way of strengthening the bond between the two families. This is mainly because the Chinese Filipino are family-oriented; they see the family as the primary source of love, security, and protection. They believe that if the two families live in harmony, then their life affairs will prosper.
The Sin Na - (a Chinese word for “gift”) is a four-layered bamboo box, usually filled with fruits, herbs, jewelry, and other goods that signify prosperity
and happiness for the couple.
and happiness for the couple.
Sweet tea soup and noodles are served to the entourage. Both symbolize harmony between the bride and her new family, as well as a long-lasting relationship between the groom and bride.
- Eggs. The Chinese believe that eggs symbolize fertility. This is to anticipate and look forward to the family that the couple will build in the future.
Noodles (Misua). For the Chinese, noodles are a symbol of longevity and are also part of many other celebrations such as birthday parties and wedding ceremonies.
As the engagement ceremony nears its end, the groom will carry the cake with the bride’s name. One of his relatives will carry the cake bearing his name. The two will walk (or drive) around the block of the ceremonial venue twice. Walking or driving around is like forming a circle, a shape which symbolizes the unending union of the couple. This may also signify that the couple will always share the same path in life.
Family members of the bride give away flowers to the single ladies in the venue.
They also distribute the give-away bags (filled with fruits, noodles, and sweets) to the relatives and special guests of the couple.