I witnessed for the first time a modern Chinese tradition today. It's my close friend's Tenghun (engagement).
In the olden times, the engagement is arranged by the parents and a matchmaker. The bride is chosen by the groom's parents with the help of a matchmaker. It is during Tenghun that the would-be couple sees each other for the first time. Tenghun is the tradition of the Chinese when the groom gives the bride-to-be's family dowry and gifts. The dowry is a sign of appreciation by the groom's family to the bride's family for raising her well. The amount of gift given is a match of the bride's family's status and the parent's love for their daughter. It is also on this day that the wedding date is determined through the help of a fortune teller. Invitation to the wedding is given to family and friends in the form of offering a slice of cake to the invitee. If you want to know more of how tradition used to do it, check out Chinese Pre-wedding.
Today, modern generation of Chinese in the Philippines don't practice this tradition strictly. As in the case of my friend, the wedding date is pre-determined, invitations are in the form of cards, there is no strict matching of dowry and the bride's status although the gifts are still pretty extravagant and lavish, and the coolest thing of them all is that they get to choose their partner... Yey! ^_^ By the way, the family who spends for the whole celebration is the bride's. For a modern day guide, check Chinese-Wedding guide.
When I got in the room, there was a long table on stage where the family were seated. On the table were the gifts to be exchanged. It includes jewelry, watches, and silverware. Joey, the groom-to-be, and his family were already standing infront near the table waiting for his bride. Gay, the bride-to-be, entered the hall walking backwards assisted by her mom and dad. Why backwards? Because in the olden times, the couple were not supposed to see each other yet. When they arrived, they greeted each other and the exchanges of gifts started. The couple also exchanged wedding rings. After the gift giving, they went around the room giving tea to the eldest of each family. Lunch followed after. As a giveaway, all married couples in the room were given goodies placed in a red good-fortune bag. Yey!! I love goodies! :)
The food was great and delicious. I was very full. My meal wasn't even finished yet but I already felt so sleepy from feeling so full. LOL And the food kept coming and coming. Endless! Haha Well, actually the meal ended on the 9th course. It was AH-MAY-ZING!! I truly enjoyed my first teng hun. ^_^
If you are having your engagement in Cebu, Ching Palace and A Taste of Mandarin are good places to set it to. They have catered to several of these occasions so they already know what to do and how to assist you.
If you are a friend attending Tenghun,