Sunday, September 8, 2013

Our Betrothal Day 过大礼 / 過大禮 (Guo Da Li)

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Today is our 过大礼 day! 


When I told my friends all the unmarried ones asked "What is that!??!". Well, I didn't know what 过大礼 is all about until I am planning for my own wedding. 

In short, it is a formal Betrothal Day where the groom will bring gifts to the bride's home and give it to her parents together with the  娉金 (dowry money). The bride's parents will then return part of the dowry money and gifts back to the groom, 回礼 (returning of gifts) with some other additional items as my  (dowry) to bring over to the groom's home to start a new life as a wife & daughter in law.

The items that the groom has to present to the bride's family depends on the bride's dialect group. I am a Teochew & Le bf is Hokkien so he has to follow my dialect group.

Since my parents are divorced and my dad remarried + didn't want to get involved with any of the wedding aspects, Le bf had to prepare everything and bring it to my mother's house.

Well, actually it's Mama Chew & I who did all the preparation because poor Le bf had to fly to China for a business trip with his dad at the last minute on Monday night and only touched down in Singapore this morning at 4am, just in time for the 过大礼 because it is scheduled at 1.30pm at my mother's house and we need to meet up early to go and collect the wedding cakes and prepare the items. I went to NTUC to lug the pig trotter cans & oranges home (so proud of myself cos it's mother-heavy!) after work and Mama Chew bought and prepared the rest of the items.

I slept at 6.30am cos I was clearing out my storeroom and had other misc wedding preparations to do. Le bf slept around 5am. I woke up at 8.30am and gave him a morning call at 9.30am to wake up because he was supposed to be at my house by 9.45am and I guessed he was still sleeping since the first thing he does each morning is to message me the moment he wakes up. 

Yes yes, I am super woman. 2 hours sleep and I can still be bright and chirpy!

I am actually pushing it, in terms of my health because my average sleeping hours now is only 3-4hrs each day and I am working through the night since I am in the midnight shift. And 2 days a week I switch my body clock back to sleeping at night and awake during the day when it's my off days as I need to be out doing wedding preparation stuff and other stuff like going to the dentist, dating time with Le bf, dinners with his family, etc because those are the normal human awake hours.

Sleeping during the day and during the night is totally different. My mind is very active with a thousand and one things going on in my head which I have to take note of and plan for..but my body is physically tired. It is getting harder and harder for me to wake up because it seems my brain is forcing me to stay in sleep-mode to recuperate and rest. I don't like noises so I wake up easily when there's an alarm, but now I can sleep through 12 alarms. My clock, my radio, my phone all with multiple alarms. Just sleep through. Even when Chloe barks at me to wake up (she knows when the alarm rings means it's time for me to wake up), I just sleep through. OMG.

It's not easy being patient, tolerant & nice when you are tired, sleepy & grumpy... But by God's grace & blessing I have the strength to do what I need to do with only minimal sleep. Without the strength of God I would have collapsed a long time ago from exhaustion.

So.. Le bf drove over to my house and we are off to Sembawang to collect the wedding cakes which we ordered a few weeks ago! His best men (also his cousin) Ryan, and groomsman (also his best friend/army buddy) Clement met us at the shop to follow us to my mother's house which is in Yishun, a short drive away.

Typically a matchmaker will come along, but that's the olden days lah.. Nowadays it's just the groom & his bestmen. I am following because I don't live with my mother.. if not usually the bride will just wait at home for the groom to come over.

 Gin Thye Cake Maker 锦泰西果饼家
423 Sembawang Road Singapore 758392
Tel: 65-62571566

The shop is super packed cos today is the 3rd day of the lunar 8th month, and the first weekend of the 8th month. Chinese believe that during the 7th month you cannot do any wedding related stuff as it's the Hungry Ghost Month and it's bad luck.. so everyone had to wait till the 8th month to start sending out invitation cards, cakes, do the Guo Da li, etc. The shop also does baby full month celebrations and the old aunties there will give you very good advice on what to do, what to buy and what to prepare.

There's also a lot of other old school cakes and biscuits.

But honestly, these are "older generation food" to me, because the younger generation has never seen these before, let alone tried them! And many of them are sooooooooo sweet, it's borderline diabetic. I think sugar was expensive last time? Or maybe there's no potato chips and stuff so these are the sweet tidbits and treats that they can only afford during Chinese New Year or big occasions like wedding, etc. Moreover the people in the past are so skinny and small-sized because of their diet and work (coolies, samsui women.. etc) and high metabolism, so they can eat such stuff. Nowadays if we indulge in all these.. confirm tooth decay + diabetes!

Their business is so good, they actually put out tables outside the shop to put the cakes and stuff for customers to collect! Lots of tables!! Hahahahha! They are also selling mooncakes now since the Mooncake Festival is round the corner.

They are so nice to loan us two traditional Chinese baskets for us to put the items in! So sweet of them! They don't charge any money for the baskets if you purchase your wedding cakes with them. Usually they will ask for a deposit but the aunty didn't collect any money from me cos she trusted me to come back with the baskets. I think she is a Teochew cos she spoke Teochew to me and all Teochews (especially the old folks) always say "Teochew nang, ka ki nang". (Teochew people are own people/family).. or maybe she spoke Teochew to me cos I bought the Teochew 伍色糖 wedding cakes? Older folks can speak all sorts of dialects and I find it so fascinating.. 

One of the shop assistant was helping me to arrange the items in the baskets while the nice old Aunty supervised. While she's packing, she asked me "Where is your alcohol? It should be at the bottom basket because it is heavy..". I turned to Le bf and asked "Where's the 2 bottles of alcohol that Mama Chew prepared?" and Le bf's face turned green and he gave me the OH-SHIT face.. Turns out his maid kept it and did not put it out together with the other items he brought alone.. in a hurry to leave the house this morning, he forgot to check and make sure it's there. 

Major kua kua kua.....

He lives in the East so we had to drive back from Sembawang (30mins) to his home and take the alcohol and drive back to Yishun (35mins) before going to my mum's house. 1 hour!!! T_T" Can't blame him cos the poor boy just arrived in Singapore a few hours ago and his schedule in China was super hectic since it was a business trip. 
So we just took the two baskets and along with us and drove back to his place then straight to my mother's house. Le bf squeezing the basket in the back seat.

I opened one of the wedding cake box..

I don't like anything in the box. I mean.. it's nothing something that I would eat lah. I think I ate some of these before when I was reallllyyyyy young cos I lived with my Teochew grandmother and she is damn hardcore Teochew. It costs $18 each and has 5 items in it. 伍色糖 literally translates to mean 5 coloured candies. You can choose the cheaper version which also have 5 items but lesser quantity, or the more expensive ones with more quantity of the same 5 items.

I prepared an extra angbao for the "diaper money" (smaller one) with my own money cos Mama Chew combined all the money in the bigger one together with the 娉金 dowry money for my mother and the old Aunty at the shop insisted there must be a separate one.

The 娉金 Angbao!

Usually the bride's mother will take a token sum and return the majority of the money back to the groom's parents. This is to signify that the groom's family is generous and the bride's family is not greedy, or in other words "selling their daughter" since the bride is leaving her home to be the groom's wife and his family's new daughter.

My 四点金 from Mama Chew! =)

Teochews are smart people because one of the mandatory item is the 四点金 (4 pieces of gold). The other dialects will ask for roast pig, pig trotters, pineapples.. but the Teochews are very money-faced practical. Nowadays all the other dialect groups have smarten up and most of them also insist that the groom's family also buy the gold for their daughter regardless of their dialect group. Gold is always appreciating in value!

My grandma used to remind me over & over again that when I grow up and get married, I must must must (don't know how many times she emphasized on the MUST) have my 4 pieces of gold from my future mother-in-law. No matter how much the dowry money is, no matter what the other items are included, no matter how poor or rich my future husband's family is.. I must must must (yes, repeat and repeat) get my 4 pieces of gold. Because the gold will be mine and the rest of the items will belong to my parents and as a woman (she's thinking in terms of China days) I need to have a insurance because women don't work and men are the providers so in case we need money we can still pawn our gold during emergencies. 

Well, women nowadays do work so we don't need gold as an insurance anymore, but it will be nice to keep it for the future generations! In fact, 2 items are from Papa Chew's mother and passed on to me! Old people always say "Old gold is better than new gold" because of the sentimental value and content of the gold purity or whatever..... so they like to pass down jewelry to the next generation. The items are actually worth 5 figures and I think I will only wear them during the wedding then keep them in a safe... I am happy with my Pandora & Thomas Sabo! Haha!

So we need to go and buy a safe box soon! Mama Chew kept reminding us to go and buy a safe box because we will be receiving jewelry during the tea ceremony and we need to keep them safe. Le bf is currently looking around for one.

My complexion is actually improving as we get closer to the wedding despite me staying up late all the time and having so little sleep.I can only say "Thanks be to God" because it's so impossible to have good skin with the kind of food I am eating (Mcdonald's) and the hours I am sleeping (3hrs++ daily)!  Mama Chew has been asking me to go for facials but I have no time! My free time (however little) is allocated to sleeping and I have no spare time to go for beauty treatments! Well, I do put on masks 4 times a week and make sure I moisturize moisturize moisturize! It's part hard work and mostly God's grace. Pray that no major breakouts will happen!

My right eye was a little swollen because I have a stye in it, but it's healing quite quickly cos I went to the doctor to get eye drops and eye solution. The doctor just told me to avoid eye makeup, don't wear contact lenses and put the solution diligently.

So the boys parked the cars and we got ready to bring the stuff upstairs!

They commented that this picture looks like 福禄寿 

Clement looks so cute with the 2 baskets!! So out of place cos the baskets look damn old school and he is in modern day clothing. Hahahahahaha!

Package delivered! Mission accomplished! Well done boys! ^_^

Le bf, Me, my mother & my Emama

My Emama said that there's so much things that we brought over and they are very paiseh (well, more likely she is paiseh, not my mother) because they can't return the big favour to my mother-in-law. I was like "Where got a lot!?! It's just 12 cans of pig trotters, 10 oranges, the traditional stuff like red dates & etc, peanut candy, sesame candy, 2 bottles of alcohol, 4 boxes of mee suah and 8 boxes of wedding cakes! You just need to return the pig trotters and oranges plus 2 bottle F&N lah!". And she gave me the exasperated look and said "Siao ah! That is not a lot? SO MUCH STUFF!".

Left: The orange I bought from NTUC
Right: The ginormous orange my Emama bought from Jurong

My Emama is sooooooooo proud and happy of her orange purchase because they are huge! They look like grapefruits! She said she asked her friends to help her buy from the Jurong wholesale market just for the  过大礼! 

My mother was supposed to prepare my (dowry) items for me to bring back to Le bf's house but guess what? SHE DIDN'T PREPARE & BUY ANYTHING AT ALL! I reminded her to buy "Jian Dui" a kind of fried kueh that's round and filled with peanut or sesame. I reminded her a few times because Mama Chew specifically want that item back when we bring the items back as 回礼. So in the end we had to drive my Emama out to the hawker centre and she had to walk around to find a stall that sells it so we can bring it back to Le bf's house.

During the car ride (just 3 of us), she was chiding me saying I am so "gong" (silly) and should have told her instead of my mother to prepare the items, blah blah blah.. My mother is blur.. blah blah blah.. She don't know.. blah blah blah. I told her "it's not she don't know or she is blur. She DON'T CARE!"

Then my Emama tried to cover up for my mother saying "it's her first time having a child that's getting married", then I replied "Brendan's mother also first time having a child getting married and he is the ONLY SON! She makes an effort to find out and she is so enthusiastic about helping and getting the stuff!!!!!! WHAT ABOUT MY MOTHER!?" then she said some whatever thing which my brain has blocked out. Seriously when it comes to my parents my mind has this coping mechanism to block out or numb my emotions so I will not get upset or worked up.

She just need to buy the following stuff which are already super minimum from the usual traditional list..

1 Double happiness bathtub
1 Double happiness basin 
1 Double happiness tray
1 Sewing box
1 sewing kit (needle, pin cushion and thread but without scissors)
1 mug
Toothbrush, tooth paste, bath towel
1 pair of wedding lamps
1 set of bedsheets

Luckily the (dowry) items can be brought over either today or a few days before the wedding so Emama still have time to go and get the items for me. The dowry items must be bought by my mother (or Emama) because it is their blessing for me to bring to my husband's house! I can buy the items myself if there's no significance tagged to who's actually buying the stuff! It's not about the money, but the heart! 

Anyway, my Emama will settle that for me and we'll collect my (dowry) items when we do the 壓床 ceremony (setting up of bridal bed). Mama Chew has been asking Le bf many times if he wants to change his current Queen sized bed to a King sized bed but he refuses because it is still quite new (with plastic intact even after a few years).

The items that we brought back to Le bf's house.

Just a few more weeks to go! Time is passing so quickly!!!!!!!!!!

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