Dating is a tough game and when Cupid is a bit slow on the uptake, it’s difficult to know what to do. But, have no fear, today it’s all made simple, as single young men and women (and their parents off course) are turning to an odd form of xiangqin (相亲), or matchmaking. One of its most unusual forms is gongyuan xiangqin (公园相亲), or matchmaking in the park, a fusion of both traditional and modern styles of xiangqin.
According to traditional xiangqin rules, men and women would not meet each other initially. Rather, it was up to the man’s parents, relatives, or a matchmaker to visit the woman’s home. Her family members would desperately try to make an impression on the future groom’s relatives. Today, despite infuriating their offspring, many parents still insist upon finding spouses for their children.
There are numerous websites such as zhenai.com where singles can post an ad seeking a partner, but the ads are mostly prompted by the parents and not by their children. Matchmaking markets in China are thriving.
Matchmaking in Renmin Park, Shanghai
Gongyuan xiangqin is somewhere in between. In what must a fun family day out, parents, grandparents, or other assorted relatives go to the park on an appointed day, having registered for the event beforehand, armed with pictures and descriptions of their single children, in something reminiscent of a medieval market day.
They should give birth dates, salary, job, height, housing, and any additional matchmaking details, a sort of bridegroom market where the parents do the buying. Like inspecting fine cattle, relatives then weigh up the prospects of the humans on offer.
At the matchmaking fairs, parents have conversations with the families of prospective mates and exchange contact info.
In Beijing, the matchmaking fairs take place all over the place, including Chaoyang Park, Beihai Park, Olympic Park, Haidian Park, Zhongshan Park, and Tiantan Park.
So if you have found your one true love, just get yourself down to the park.