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Panda, a common typing and binding worker in State Grid for 21 years. Own a bachelor degree of Chinese Language and Literature, and a certificate of teaching Chinese. She is pursuing a Master of Chinese Classical Literature in HuBei University, and studying the novels of Ming & Qing dynasties.
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Wedding And Funeral (红白喜事)    

By Panda
2495 Views | 8 Comments | 3/6/2014 3:41:07 PM

The arts come from my son's homework when he was a freshman of University in Chengdu.

After the Lantern Festival, I had just received a wedding invitation from an old colleague. I was invited to her son’s wedding on Saturday, Feb. 22nd. What should be an auspicious day, all of us colleagues and relatives filled a big bus and there were still some people who drove their cars to go to Sunny Days Great Corner Restaurant (艳阳天旺角酒店) to attend the wedding feast.


I am always invited to such joyous celebration. The weddings are Chinese and Western styles combined. The first half, with the white wedding dress, accompanied by her bridesmaids, flower girls, in the wedding march, the father accompanying the bride to the altar, then hands the daughter to the groom. In the second half of the wedding, the bride changes into Chinese traditional red dress, and with the groom receives a toast at each guest table. In traditional Chinese culture, red stands for festival, so the wedding is called red happy event.


After the wedding, my grandmother passed away on Sunday, Feb. 23rd at age 99. My father and sister went to Changsha from Zhuhai to attend her Funeral on Monday. My son and I had our identity cards just mailed to Zhuhai, so we couldn’t take trains from Wuhan and, didn't go to Changsha for the Funeral. But I reported the event to my friends on Skype and QQ. My western friends all thought this is a sad event, they all expressed sorry to hear that, and condolences to me and my family.


In fact, a funeral is also a happy event in China, which is called white comedy, and wedding is called red comedy. Wear red or white, that is, at weddings and funerals(红白喜事). The connotation of the color white in the Chinese expression 红白喜事(hong bai xi shi) would be confusing to most westerners. It would probably be best not to translate the colors at all and merely say “weddings and funerals”. This is because white is the traditional color for brides at Western weddings. To have white at funerals would be offensive; to have funerals described as “happy occasions” would be absolutely shocking to westerners, although the expression reflects a certain philosophic attitude towards death of Chinese.


红白喜事intention is to point to two wedding and funeral ceremonies. "喜事" here is the source, nature is an happy occasion for marriage but the funeral is also a happy occasion. Chuang tzu lost his wife, didn't cry, considered as death a kind of “happy” of birth, it is the performance in accordance with the mandate of heaven. So the ancients thought weddings and funerals are all happy event, and called them together 红白喜事.


My sister told me, my granny chocked on her dinner, and passed away quickly. She had a will, “don’t to be in torments.” My cousin kept watch at the night, she had been taken to crematorium from home next morning, then was buried. A life well lived, although she hadn’t lived to 100. There are three pictures of my grand parents with us on my very first blog here, “Grandfather Passed Away”, and their stories in it. Anyway, my granny was more fortune than my grandfather. Rabbit women always have good luck in their lives. After my grandfather passed away at 95, my granny had walked over her the 9th Rabbit year smoothly in 2011, and that was a great achievement for her.


But when I visited her alone in the summer of 2011, her emotion was a little bad some. She didn’t allow me to live with her a night, even stopped my drinking a cup of water and taking a shower at home. She told me, that she was not capable to entertain guests after grandfather passed away. She asked me to go to my uncle’s home. I told her, “I’m Cao Hui. I visited you from Wuhan.” She asked, “Who is Cao Hui? Let me alone.” After a while, she asked me again, “has your son been in Chengdu?” This was my experience when I visited her alone.


Next year, I went to Changsha from Wuhan to celebrate her 97th birthday with all my relatives. She didn’t know me still. Last year, my sister went to Changsha with my father, of course, I hadn’t gone to Changsha again for the two bad experiences before. She even asked my father to convey her words to me: “Has Cao Hui still been alone? Tell her just to live alone, don’t try to find a man.”


My mother is a Tiger, very strong woman, who had studied combustion motor 5 years in University, There were just 3 female students in class. When she was young, she could drive and repair tractors, combines and jeeps. I dreamed of her on the night of the 22nd, I would leave her further in future… But I got the information on the morning, 23th, that is my grandmother passed away.


My mother told me before, when my granny was in her 50's, she came from Changsha to Hubei to take care of me. She used to be a charge nurse in a hospital, and loved to clean so much. She even moved heavy cabinets to clean our flat. She was not good at cooking, but very opinionated. I didn’t eat her dishes, she chased me all over the yard, and scolded my mom, “You raised a Miss the bourgeoisie, even not eat my dishes!” My mom had a look, granny fried long beans and towel gourds together.


I remember when I visited my grand parents every time before, I couldn’t do anything in their small kitchen. Two old people argued in kitchen. Granny wanted to cook a meal for me, but grandfather said, “What can you do? Let me do.” Grandfather cooked the dishes very delicious. They had been taking care of themselves. After my grandfather passed away, my granny hired a nurse to be company. But my aunt sent braised pork once a week. Granny had few teeth, the fatty pork and noodle were her favorites, even no salt in her noodles.


“Granny has her wisdoms. She loves simple life.” This is my sister’s conclusion to our granny which I wrote in my first blog “Grandfather Passed Away”. By now, our grand parents live together in heaven.

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#2014-03-06 18:58:57 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Cao Hui, this is both very touching and very enlightening.

First, please accept our condolences on the death of your Grannie. When our grandparents have played an important role in our own growth, as clearly yours did, when they pass away a little part of us is lost. I'm sure you miss her.

Second, thanks for sharing this with us, and giving us a peek below the surface when it comes to family life in China, and for your explanation of the colours of weddings and funerals.

Great blog (clap)

#2014-03-06 19:40:49 by Barry1 @Barry1


"my grandmother passed away on Sunday, Feb. 23rd at age 99"

I am very sorry to hear this, Panda. The passing of any relative is a very sad event, even though they may have lived to a good old age.

"a funeral is a happy event in China"

Well, surprise surprise. Thanks for letting us know this. Chinese culture becomes more and more interesting, the more I learn about it. In the West, people tend to wear black at a funeral - rather than white as in China. The black denotes feelings of sadness. Yet at my father's funeral, I chose to wear a red shirt with blue pants, because I remembered Dad would have wished that we all be happy, rather than sad.

In case anyone's interested, I'm a believer in reincarnation according to Buddhist principles. I view death as a temporary phase, but one that's still inevitably sad for the family and friends left behind.

You said also,

"There are three pictures of my grand parents with us on my very first blog here"

I went back and revisited your very first blog here, Panda. It was wonderful to see you and your grand parents in the photo there, all looking so lovely. I had forgotten that I had also in fact commented on this first article of yours. It seems I have followed your burgeoning blogging career closely. I regard you as an extraordinarily sincere, deep thinking person. I commend you for the many informative pieces you've written on CLM. All of us here have benefited immensely from them, thank you so much, my friend.

One remark I made back on your first blog article is still applicable today. May I repeat it here?

"What we have done purely for ourselves during our lives dies with us when we pass.
But what we have done for others remains immortal."

You mentioned also that in her later years, your granny suffered from dementia, quite probably Alzheimer's disease. This is a terrible condition called a "living death", as it cruelly robs the sufferers of all their memories, until they can hardly recognise anyone, or maybe even no one at all. This is not only extremely hard on the sufferer, but all the surrounding family as well. Life can be so cruel and unkind sometimes, can't it?

At least the nice thought that your grandparents are both now reunited in Heaven together provides a little comfort. I know it was some time ago, but once again, sincere condolences to you and your family on this sad passing, dear sister.

#2014-03-07 20:48:46 by panda2009 @panda2009


Thanks for your condolences to me and my family.

In fact, my granny disliked a single grand daughter to visit her. I was her the oldest grand child, she even remembered my son, her oldest great grandson. When I visited my grand parents alone before. She always complaint why my dad didn't go to see them? She just loved her sons, especailly my dad. She was an simple, stubborn rabbit lady, disliked unhappy things. It is my dad who asked me often to visit grand parents, because I live in Wuhan where is more close to Changsha.

I really miss my grandfather who loved me so much. He tought me to understand ancient Beijing opera. When I left, he would stand in his sunning room, watched me until I was disappear from his sight.

My grandfather was in well-differentiated carcinoma in his last half a year, very pain, but his mind was very clear. My granny hadn't any disease, except a little hearing disorder. She just lived in a flat of Xiangya Hospital, a health examination per year, her medical record was blank. She passed away no pain.

#2014-03-08 00:12:35 by dancingshoes @dancingshoes

caohui, you were born in the long life family. i think you will live to more older than 100 years.

what is your grandparents lifestyle? i do not think the fatty pork and noodles are healthy, but they must have some other way to live a long life like that?

#2014-03-09 20:09:28 by panda2009 @panda2009

A Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew was presumed to have crashed off the Vietnamese coast on Saturday.
Huge air disaster! My condolences to the people and their families.
Life is fragile. Treasure Every Moment That You Have!

#2014-03-10 23:03:03 by sandy339 @sandy339

It is an interesting combinaton,
It is a relief that your granny didn't suffer a lot. I never see my grandparents, I don't know what kind of love feeling from them, but anyway it is very natual, sooner or later, we will all past away, enjoy today:)

#2014-03-18 13:50:45 by panda2009 @panda2009


My tongue sometimes grows bleeding blisters. My mom asked me to eat vitamin B this morning. My granny ate vitamin B every day, and always asked us to eat vitamin B1, B2. I think that I also need to eat vitamin B. Maybe this is also the reason why my granny lived on her 99th.

#2014-03-19 10:54:49 by dancingshoes @dancingshoes


Thanks for sharing. I am always curious about the healthy lifestyle and food which will make us live longer and better. :D

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