Saturday, December 6, 2008

Kai Siao

A lot of people I talk to still think that arranged marriages are still the norm for Chinese men and women. That is certainly not the case. I would think that there may still be some, but for most modern Chinese, marriage partners are mostly of one's choice rather than the parents' choice. This is very different from my grandmothers' time. My grandmother told me that the first time she saw my grandfather is during her wedding day already, since it was her family who decided to accept the match.

What confuses people nowadays is that many Chinese families still do Kai Siao. That's in the Fukien dialect. It literally means to introduce. And that is what really happens. A family with an unmarried son or daughter would try to ask around for a suitable mate for their child. Friends would usually act as matchmakers, bringing the two families together for dinner, hoping that the children would hit it off and become boyfriend/girlfriend and later on decide to get married. If no sparks occur, well, that's that. The families aren't going to force the issue. They will just try to see if there are other prospects which might catch their son or daughter's eye.

Although a lot of other people may scoff at this, this is actually not much different from being set up on a date by friends. There are a lot of couples who have had successful marriages after kai siao. (I'm not one of them, but I've seen it happen, so I know it works.) Concerned families usually screen the prospective son or daughter-in-law to check on the family's background, the work ethic, the attitude, the reputation in the community, and a lot more. The built in advantage is that the choice is already more or less preapproved and chances are the parents already know each other from somewhere (whether in business, or from friends and relatives).

This is really not the same as the arranged marriages of old. It's simply another way to get "the young people" to know more "prospects" and hope that a successful marriage may ensue.


Mariuca said...

Hola! You’re invited to join us on a BEAR-y special meme, have fun! :)


Santelmo said...

This is a really nice post. I am actually excited for my sister's 2nd Kai Siao (this time set by my aunt-in-law) The guy is actually almost 10 years older than my sister. Well I prefer it that way, compared to her 1st bf who is 4 years younger than her. (they broke up a few days ago)

Hopefully, it would work well. So that my sister could smile again and finally and totally get over her ex. ^_^ hihihi! shhhhh...

And I hope the guy and his family would not consider our lack of knowledge in the Chinese language as a deterrent to a possible good relationship.

theworkingmom said...

Good luck to your sister! May she find the guy that's truly meant for her! :)