The hair combing ceremony “上頭(Shang Tou Ceremony” is one of the Chinese Wedding tradition, as important as the ritual of “Giving and Acceptance of Betrothal Gifts”.
This tradition symbolizes the transition to adulthood of both the bride and groom…
…and it served as a sign that these young adults are now ready for marriage.
At the same time, it’s also a blessing to the couples—“Be together forever.”
The procedure of hair combing ceremony is quite complicated as there are so many steps and things you need to know…
In the past, there were so many cases of the couples missed the auspicious wedding time…
…because they were not familiar with the process of the hair combing ceremony.
Or… the ceremony could not even be completed successfully as the couples had not prepared all the things they need.
In order to help you to properly go through the Chinese wedding hair ritual and to have a perfect beginning of your wedding day…
INES WEDDINGS is going to share with you the process step by step and provides you the list of all the necessities you need in the ceremony.
Take notes now!
Processes of Hair Combing Ceremony
However, nowadays, many couples choose to perform their ceremonies on the morning of the wedding day because it is more convenient for the bride wearing make up.
Couples can choose to perform their ceremony whether on the morning or the eve of the wedding according to their preference or their dialect custom.
It is also essential for the couples to choose an auspicious time for the ceremony and remember…
…the groom’s ceremony have to be one hour earlier than the bride’s in Chinese tradition.
It’s generally agreed upon that the bride and groom conduct their ceremonies separately and at their respective homes.
However, in Hong Kong, many brides also tends to conduct their ceremonies at the hotel.
3. Who to Perform?
The ceremony usually performed by a woman/man with good fortune(好命公/好命婆), or the couple’s mother/father who meet the requirement.
Woman/man of good fortune requirement:
Relative or friend who with Five-generation family & harmonious marriage.
Their children has become adult with financial ability. (Also with NO experience in abortion)
However it is not easy to find a elder with five-generation family because of the trend of late marriage.
Therefore, a married relative or friend with Three-generation family can also perform the ceremony nowadays.
4. Prepare a table
But it is quite difficult for you to find a window with the moon visible in those micro apartments in Hong Kong…
So generally you can just place the table in front of any windows will be just fine.
5. Put everything on the table
Lay out all the necessities you need in the ceremony on the table.
（List of necessities is in the second part of this article）
6. Hang up the Chinese Wedding Couplet
“Usher in happiness before hair combing.”(“先報喜後上頭”)
The Chinese wedding couplet is a blessing to the couple and it should be hanged up before the ceremony start.
There are different couplet for the groom and bride so remember to choose carefully.
7. Take a Bath
According to tradition the bride and groom have to bathe with water infused with pomelo or pomegranate leaves before the ceremony.
However, modern couples no longer bathe with pomelo or pomegranate leaves but with water only.
After bathing the couple then put on new Chinese wedding pajamas, undergarments, and bedroom slippers, seating in front of the table with their parents standing next to them.
8. Light The Pair of Dragon Phoenix Candles
Light the pair of dragon Phoenix candles and joss stick(not necessary).
Also with fruits, chicken, roasted pork, three bowls of glutinous rice ball(with lotus seeds and red dates, six to nine pieces in each, representing an auspiciousness) on the table.
After having everything prepared, the couple may then pray to the heavens and their ancestors.
9. Hair Combing
First combing – “May your marriage last for a lifetime.”
Second combing – “May you be blessed with a happy and harmonious marriage until old age.”
Third combing – “May you be blessed with an abundance of children and grandchildren.”
Fourth combing – “May you be blessed with longevity.”
10. Thuja Leaves and Reg Strung
The bride will clip the Thuja leaves and red strung on her hair, while the groom will put them in his pajama pocket(left one).
Remember that you can only take them away after the wedding day.
11. Red Packet
After hair combing is finished, the groom’s/bride’s will be given a red packet from their parents, while their parents will be given 1-2 red packet each from the woman/man of good fortune.
Bride, groom and their parents have to take it with them throughout the wedding day.
It means hoping that everything will go well.
12. Bride and Groom Standing Up
In tradition, bride and groom have to say “Rise Up High(高升)” aloud before they stand up. (It’s a blessing in Chinese).
Nowadays, it becomes an option.
To say or not so say, it’s all up to the bride & groom.
After standing up, the bride and groom have to serve their parents with the bowl of glutinous rice balls(with red dates and glutinous rice balls).
And then eat the third bowl of it. (Both parents and the couple must eat as it symbolized a perfect and round marriage.)
13. Wait Until the Candles Burnt Out
If the couple are conducting the ceremony at night, they can only go to bed after the candles burnt out.
14. Keep the Thuja Leaves and Red Strung
On the next day of wedding, the bride and groom have to put their Thuja leaves and red strung into a red packet, and place it under the pillow.
Remember you can only throw it away a month after the wedding.
15.Giving the Red Packet to the Woman/Man
Remember to give a red packet to the woman/man of good fortune if she/he is not your parents.
Traditional Combing Set List
Meaning of some necessities：
Ruler, Mirror and Scissors :
“龍頭鏡(Mirror)、較剪尺(Scissors & Ruler)”，it has a meaning of “Having a son to carry on the family name”.
The ruler will be just put on the table as a dowry for auspiciousness.
Begonia Powder :
In tradition, the woman of good fortune will help the bride “開面”, which means remove her facial hair.
However, nowadays, many brides choose to skip this process.
Make Sure You Plan It Well
Hair Combing Ceremony is also a coming of age ceremony to the couple and it is full of blessings.
If all the process of the ceremony can properly go through…
…it means you will have a perfect and auspicious beginning of your Big Day!
Prepare it well, make sure you plan it perfectly and go through all the proper rituals!