There are many strange traditions when it comes to weddings. Something borrowed and something blue are relatively harmless ideas that are easy to play along with and if you decide not to, no one really minds. In other cultures, there are more serious traditions that must be abided by. In South Korea, they beat the groom’s feet (sometimes with a fish), in Kenya the father of the bride will sometimes spit on his daughter, in Borneo newlyweds are not allowed to use the bathroom for three days after getting married. These are strange, strange traditions and many are starting to be observed less and less. Today we want to focus on one strange tradition. The Chinese cigarettes tradition.
At first glance, this may not seem as strange as some of the other traditions mentioned but when you understand what happens or ever have to witness it, you will realize it is just as bizarre. Smoking is still a big part of Chinese culture. It is hard to know when the Chinese became so fond of smoking but while many cities and countries around the world are now realizing the health issues with smoking and doing it less there are still a lot of smokers in China. Smoking is embraced as part of the culture there and this becomes clear when you hear this tradition.
In recent times the tradition has not been followed by many people but it is still done by those who are hardcore traditionalists. The act itself became famous recently when one artist purchased reels from a recycling center and after developing the photos found the tradition was captured on film. The idea is that for every male invited to the wedding the bride must light a cigarette and she and her new husband must smoke everyone. That is a lot of cigarettes!
The images that the artist found showcase some incredible moments at the wedding as the couple try and think of creative ways to burn down the cigarettes. In one image we can see the groom has placed ten cigarettes in holes in a large plastic bottle and is smoking them all at once. This means that the ceremony is a rather smoke-filled occasion and the idea of avoiding second-hand smoke is not possible.
Recently a Chinese blogger wrote about the tradition and how she was feeling pressured into complying. The blogger doesn’t live a traditional lifestyle and although she wants to get married in China she doesn’t want to abide by the traditions that are clearly outdated. However, when she told her family that she didn’t want to do the smoking ritual they told her she would appear like someone who was being cheap or ungenerous. In the photos the artist took you can see everyone with cigarettes in their mouths, even babies! Clearly, this is no longer a good idea. While this was likely a lot of fun when no one understood the health issues related to smoking, now that we do, this should simply be banned.
Those who are fans of smoking will argue that an open bar at a wedding is just as much of a danger to the wedding guests. While that may be true it is at least up to each guest to decide how much alcohol they want to consume. By allowing this smoking tradition to take place you are actually subjecting second-hand smoke on your guests and making them suffer.
Traditions are important especially when it comes to weddings. However, we must be practical in our approach as well and understand when it is time to say goodbye to some. Not using the bathroom for three days, being spit on, smoking 200 cigarettes? No thanks.