U.S. Chinese Wed Despite Widow Year

Many Americans of Chinese descent are getting married this year, totally ignoring an idiotic superstition related to a quirk in the calendar.

Some U.S. Chinese Wed Despite Widow Year (AP)

Love is blooming among the dim sum shops of Chinatown this year, as it always has, even though traditionalists consider this particular year an inauspicious time to wed. A quirk in the Chinese calendar meant that the Year of the Rooster, which began in February, was missing “lichun” — the day that traditionally marks the beginning of spring. Folk wisdom holds that such years — called Widow Years by some — can be an unlucky time for a couple to begin a new life. Newspapers in China reported that thousands of couples besieged government offices in January, hoping to get hitched before the old year expired. New York’s city clerk’s office also had a sharp rise in applications in January.

But the custom has faded fast upon contact with new cultures and, like other young Chinese couples who have settled in America, Susan Zheng and Ming Chen have cast tradition aside and picked a wedding date in August. “We don’t care so much about that,” Chen said of the astrological intricacies, although he added that some older members of his fiance’s family had expressed some concern. “If you want to get married, you just get married,” Zheng said.

Zheng and Chen, who manage a wedding planning business on New York’s Lower East Side, said their predominantly Chinese clients have mostly brushed aside worries about the widow year in favor of more modern considerations, like when they might expect better weather or when relatives can get time off from work. “They are in America, and American people don’t care about this,” Chen said.

One would hope.

FILED UNDER: Asia, Religion
James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. DC Loser says:

    This is a good sign, but Chinese numerology is still going strong in the numbering of houses in affluent Chinese American neighborhoods in California and other places. The number 4 sounds like the word for death in both Mandarin and Cantonese, and so that’s generally avoided in houses ending in 4. But the combintation of 54 is good luck since that sounds like “will not die” in Cantonese. The home builders have resorted to some very creative house numbering schemes in these areas.

  2. Simon says:

    Calling it “idiotic” is too harsh. There are plenty of “Western” superstitions that are “idiotic” that still have plenty of followers: Friday 13th to name an obvious one.

    That aside you’ll find even in mainland China there are plenty of couples getting married despite the omens for this year. There was a flurry of marriages just prior to Chinese New Year but otherwise the numbers have been running in line with previous years and population growth.