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Scrapping old customs to motivate more to wed

By ZHANG YU in Shijiazhuang | China Daily | Updated: 2023-02-03 09:11

Hu Yingbin's wedding in Zhengding county, Hebei province before Spring Festival remains fresh in his memory.

At 7 am on Jan 15, his groomsmen knocked at the door of his bride who was dressed up but encircled by friends and family to stop Hu from "taking her away" easily.

The 34-year-old accepted a challenge from her "protectors" that he should sing and dance.

"I felt I was making a fool of myself because I'm a bad singer, not to mention dancer," Hu said. "But everybody there was excited to see the performance and they laughed heartily."

He added he himself was happy, too, because after a few interesting challenges like this, he successfully got his bride.

Hu was also relieved that he didn't experience excessive tricks.

"I heard that some tricks played at weddings in the past were pretty unnerving," he said, adding one groom might be weighed with a steelyard — like weighing a pig.

Hu was also glad the bride's family didn't charge a great amount of caili, or money the groom's family gives to the bride's before the wedding.

Caili was usually high in villages, sometimes amounting to 100,000 yuan ($15,000) or even more, according to Li Jibin, head of the civil affairs bureau in Feixiang district, Handan, Hebei.

"Practices like a high caili, vulgar tricks and squandering great money on a wedding have stopped many young people getting married at the proper time," he said.

The district started reforming extravagant marriage customs in 2017 and has become a model in promoting healthy, civilized and moderate weddings countrywide.

In the next three years, high-priced caili, extravagance and vulgar practices will be effectively curbed and the cost of weddings will be greatly reduced, according to a guideline from government organs including the Department of Civil Affairs of Hebei.

By 2025, more than half of the offices for marriage registration in the province will have a cultural wall showing healthy marriage practices, it said.

"The move will help more young lovers get married at an earlier time because there will be less pressure from marriage costs," Li said, adding it may also contribute to a rise in the birth rate.

The country's latest statistics show that its population shrank by 850,000 last year, the first negative growth in six decades.

In August, 17 central departments, including the National Health Commission, released a guideline seeking to boost population growth.

Comprehensive measures include reforming old wedding customs and advocating active marriage and childbearing practices.

"In such circumstances, local governments should make every effort to carry out measures to promote healthy wedding practices and prepare to embrace more babies," Li said.


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