Certain types are food
are traditionally served at a Chinese wedding banquet to symbolize the
Yin and Yang elements of the joining of a man and woman in marriage.
The menu items are carefully thought out to convey meanings such as happiness, longevity, and
fertility. The number of dishes usually served (not including
dessert) is an even number to represent the new "pairing" of
the bridal couple. There is always plenty of
food at a Chinese banquet and it is quite customary for waiters to pass
out take-out boxes for guests to take extra food home. Having
plenty of food symbolizes prosperity for the newlyweds.
In a Chinese
marriage, the dragon represents the male while the phoenix
is the female. The feast begins with
the "dragon phoenix plate" - cold plates which include suckling pig,
various sliced meats, and jellyfish served chilled. Suckling pig
is served as a symbol of the bride's purity. The groom also
customarily presents a whole roasted pig to the bride's family at the engagement
usually follows the appetizers. The type of soup has some
significance: for example, shark's fin soup is often served as this
expensive delicacy is a sign of affluence.
This is followed by two
hot appetizer dishes. These hot appetizer dishes usually include
different types of seafood. Deep fried crab claws are commonly
served as they are served as round balls which signify unity.
A lobster dish is often
served as a main entree. Lobster is literally translated in
Chinese as "dragon shrimp." This dish is served with the legs and
head intact to represent completeness (the same holds true of the fish
and chicken dish). Chicken, which also means
phoenix, is fried to a crispy red colour to convey happiness and the
wish for a flourishing life ahead for the newlyweds. Having
lobster and chicken together at the wedding banquet indicates that the
dragon (groom) and the phoenix (bride) are harmonious together and that
the Yin and Yang elements of the newly formed family are balanced.
Often vegetables are
served with sea cucumber to represent selflessness. The words for sea
cucumber in Chinese sound like "good heart" which it thought to help the
think similarly and to avoid conflict. Fish sounds like
"plentiful" in Chinese so serving fish gives hope for the
to experience a life of prosperity.
rice again symbolizes the balance of Yin and Yang (as seen by the two
differently flavoured rice dishes served in one platter). The
final pasta dish, with its long noodles, is served at the
end of the meal and represents longevity.
A sweet dessert item
is served to ensure that the new couple has a sweet life. Lotus
seeds or paste commonly used in the dessert signify fertility for the bridal
Even the beverages
hold some meaning. Carbonated beverages such
as 7-Up, which sounds like "seven happiness" in Chinese, are served along
with tea and alcohol.