I write to you today, on Saturday, April 27th, after having a long day of classes. Yes, you read that right, I had class this weekend. Here in China one never really gets a day off class or work. This Monday-Wednesday there’s a holiday break in China, therefore people are to make up their work/class time during the weekend. When I was told about having class this weekend I was shocked and bitter, but I ended up having a really good day today!
Today my class went to a Chinese Marriage Matching Market. It is here that Chinese parents create profiles for their children and browse for potential boyfriends and girlfriends that could hopefully turn into spouses one day. On Friday my Chinese class learned about relationships in China and about traditional marriage markets. We filled out our own fictitious dating profiles, and watched online dating videos. Therefore today we had the task of using the knowledge and vocabulary from yesterday’s lesson to ask parents about their children, what they were looking for in potential spouses, and whether or not they approved of their child marrying a foreigner (most did approve by the way).
To say this was an interesting experience would be an understatement. People’s Park was filled with hundreds of Chinese parents walking around and browsing through the printed out profiles of potential companions that sat on top of open umbrellas and sidewalks The profiles included all the essential information Chinese parents look for like gender, age, height, monthly income, and education. The eligible bachelors ranged from 20 years old all the way up to 75. They were mainly from China but there was also a section of foreigners to chose from if they so desired. The parents talked to us about what characteristics they were looking for in a potential spouse for their child, and they talked about why he/she was still single.
This was quite the eye opening experience. I could not imagine walking into a local park in the U.S and seeing parents conducting this marriage matchmaking process, it just wouldn’t happen. This cultural difference is just one of the many examples of how the Chinese and American cultures are so different.
There is a lot of pressure put on young adults in China to get married. Beginning at age 20 many parents start to bother their child to start finding a suitable husband or wife. Unfortunately though, this isn’t an easy feat as the Chinese are very picky. One must not be too tall or too short. A man can never be younger than a woman, nor can he be of a lower class. All of these specific requirements add to the difficulty of finding a spouse, and therefore cause many Chinese people to be single for longer than they’d like to be.
Although it was an overwhelming experience, I really enjoyed observing today’s market and talking with the Chinese parents as it gave me insight into this unique Chinese matchmaking tradition.