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A Special Time for Double Happiness

Alicia Zhang explains why the character 喜 got married

10·11·2012

As you may have heard from tour guides, Chinese people love symbolism.  From a bat pattern on a wooden door or a picture of bamboo and plum flowers on a living room wall, to the number of stairs in a building or the height of a flagpole, all harbor a subtextual meaning. In this blog, we will show you a special symbol that is exclusively used for weddings.

囍 is not really a character you will use in verbal communication. Its equivalent in daily speech is 喜 (xǐ, ‘happy’ or ‘joy’).  Notice the similarity? Yes, when you double the character 喜, you get 囍 (shuāngxǐ, double ‘xi’), which is only used as an ornamental design motif associated with Chinese weddings. With two 喜 compressed to assume the square shape of a standard Chinese character, Shuangxi means ‘double happiness’ to coincide with the new couple. Chinese culture also believes  that “happiness comes in twos” (好事要成双 hǎoshì yào chéng shuāng), and weddings especially follow the auspicious sayings.

A friend’s wedding last week reminded me just how important and pervasive this symbol is in a traditional Chinese wedding. All throughout the wedding ceremony, you can find it where-ever you direct your eyes: on wedding invitations, the wedding cake, lanterns, as well as the wrapping paper.

囍 is usually used in red, symbolizing luck, joy and propitiousness. It also appears in yellow or gold on a red background, also a festive color for celebrations. Beside the decorations, Chinese weddings involve many symbolic acts and rituals evolved from years of ancient culture, which all combine into a beautiful wedding day experience for the bride and groom.

Here are some common designs and decorations featuring 囍 in a Chinese wedding:

Wedding invitation

Images such as this usually appear on the cover of the wedding invitations: a sign of  the couple in one heart with happiness, or 永结同心 (yǒng jié tóngxīn, unifying into one heart forever).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wedding lantern

If it’s a indoor ceremony, you will find tons of wedding lanterns hanging from the ceiling. For an outdoor ceremony, lanterns will be strung up above the gate or among the trees.

 

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