Slaves to tradition, servants to customs.

So after the hunt for plain pork trotters (without mushrooms) was less than successful, we settled for canned pork trotters with mushrooms. Narcissus brand.

The eight cans were “decorated” with stickers bearing auspicious words or appropriate wedding wishes. The 12 oranges were also adorned with similar stickers.

I was planning to get in and get out, but PL’s mum would have none of that so we sat for a chat.

And she shared a little of her wedding adventures all those years ago… And her philosophy about the whole customs and traditions.

On the one hand we do not want to be so “modern” and do away with ALL Tradition that relatives call us apostates and philistines. Nor do we want to do through the whole rigmarole and impose such hardships and burdens that PL & I would elope. 🙂 (or wish we had.)

So she settled on the minimum required that would be a nod to customs and traditions without being an over-burden.

I share the same sentiment. We are, if not slaves to tradition, at least servants to customs, and there is some value in respecting tradition and customs. To be sure many of the tradition and customs were born of necessity and convenience (then) and it helps us appreciate the values (then) as well as the hardship.

So for example, the Teochew custom was for the groom to pick up the bride in the wee hours of the morning (about 4 am). This was because of a) the auspicious time to start new “endeavours”, and b) the long travelling time needed (in the era without modern transport).

She did not elaborate on the pork trotters, but the custom was specific – not stewed pork, not pork belly, but pork trotters. Certainly I had previously offered (half-seriously) to provide roast pork (pork belly) instead (it was well-received), but she had merely laughed, so I took it that she received the suggestion for the joke it was offered, and made no further mention of it. (So pork trotters it is. or was. or were.)

She did however touched on the Hokkien custom of the roasted suckling pig, and how on delivery, the head and the tail end of the suckling pig would be returned. As mentioned in my previous post, this was probably in line with the Hokkien saying “there’s head and tail”, or there is a beginning and an end, or in other words, it is complete.

Pl’s mom confirmed this, but she also added that the head and tail are not always returned on the same day, but may be returned after the wedding night. And if the bride should prove to be not a virgin, only the head would be returned.

It was a harsher time back then.

When my sister was married, the head and tail were returned immediately… on good faith, perhaps. 🙂

So… if there’s a head but no tail, the implied commentary on the bride would be that she is not “complete”.


Anyway, there were other customs or tradition. Traditionally, the couple may be subjected to very risque games after the wedding dinner, with guests making ribald and even lewd suggestions that leaves little to the imagination.

Even this, may have a purpose – a sex education crash course for the couple. It was not inconceivable (literally as well as figuratively) that couples with sheltered or cloistered lives may not have learned of the “facts of life”, so the ribald games on the wedding night might well have been their only sex education.

All I can say is, thank God for porn!

Ok. Maybe not God…  the internet, then.

Another “game” was to release a hen and a rooster under the bridal bed and see which one emerges first as a “prediction” as to whether the first child would be a boy or a girl.

This was before computers, internet, and television. So they were starved for entertainment.

This entry was posted in Customs, Musing, Personal, Wedding. Bookmark the permalink.

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