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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bei Shan and the Flaming Bride

Sunday was "Dragon Boat" festival, a holiday I remember fondly from Zhanjiang, where there actually were dragon boats and races in said boats. Guess the boats don't make it this far north, but the holiday sure does, and so Sunday was a holiday (with the bonus of having Monday classes canceled!), and to celebrate, Jenny, Kevin, and I climbed 北山Bei Shan, a "mountain" that is really little more than a hill, and so centrally located that I must have walked past this "mountain" park a hundred times this past year without realizing it. Jenny also invited me to her co-worker's wedding, but more on that in a minute.

The entrance to the park. A lot of people were there to celebrate the holiday, which seemed to be lacking both dragons and boats. I asked Jenny why people came to Bei Shan to celebrate, and she said that every year people get up really early and climb the mountain and go to the 早市, zao shi, the morning market the springs up around the park. Again I asked "why," and Jenny said, well, she didn't know.

This old man is like China's version of Cupid. He goes around weaving a red thread between lovers. He's the only one that can see the read thread, of course, but once you're threaded, you're together, for good or ill. He's old and prone to narcolepsy or something, because "bad matches" are when the old man with the thread falls asleep at the wheel (at the needle?). Young couples came and tied red ribbons and heart-shaped locks around him and the chain-link fence that surrounded him.

See? Ribbons and heart-shaped locks.

Couples that want a baby come and tie red ribbons around this statue of a baby. I don't know if there's any relation to the old man.

A small Chinese temple, one of many within the park. Jenny gave me a good little history lesson on how a lot of quasi-historical people from China's (far too long) history eventually became revered and deified. Like Greek gods, each now is an "immortal" and has his or her own little provenance in the universe, and you pray to different ones for different fortunes.

More red good luck paper stuff.

At the top of Bei Shan, looking down on Jilin. A nice goodbye panorama ... on to the wedding!

The groom owned a nightclub, and so the whole ceremony went down in (one of?) his club(s), with all the trappings of the night club scene: loud music, fireworks, magic shows, and singing, all with that unmistakably Chinese penchant for the loud and fiery.

Jenny and one of her co-workers at the wedding.

In a rain of confetti, the groom asked (again) for her hand. I couldn't really understand why, there was a lot of spectacle going on, a really loud MC who guided the couple through candle-lighting, wine-pouring, and a bunch of other ceremonies. It was all really flashy.

You can see the candles and the heart-shaped array of cascading wine glasses.

That looks both professional and safe, and in no way poses a fire hazard.

She looks really happy here.

Whoops! Just as the ceremony was drawing to a close, with the bride and groom and the MC standing shoulder to shoulder at the front of the stage, bowing and saying thanks, a string of fireworks right above them began vomiting sparks and confetti. Clearly, this wasn't planned very well. The confetti immediately caught fire and came down in sheets of flame, like someone threw a buck of fire on the stage. The result ...

... the bride's (rented) dress caught fire. It wasn't a tiny little fire, either; the entire train was a mess of confetti and ash and melting nylon. I've seen a lot of indiscriminate fireworks in China, and swore one day it's end in tears, I just never thought I'd live to see it end with a flaming bride.

Well, an afternoon at Bei Shan and a truly incendiary wedding. Not a bad final weekend in China!


jimmy said...

that wedding seems like a flaming lips concert, except more dangerous

Meghan said...

glad I'm not the only one who catches on fire at wedding events...

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Mia~ artificial silk flowers said...

Oh my... It's fortunate the bride and groom wasn't hurt, (specially the bride. Sure using fireworks in a wedding is a fantastic idea, but when accidents happen, it could be disastrous to a lovely wedding event like this one. I've never seen wedding venue held on a night club before, great idea, after the ceremony, it's party time! :)

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