China’s No. 1 central document for 2023 was released , which outlines the country’s key policy objectives for the year ahead. Among these objectives is a special campaign to address a number of problematic cultural practices, including the issue of high “bride prices” and extravagant wedding ceremonies in rural areas.
The document calls on local governments to develop new norms to replace outdated customs that are no longer suitable for modern times. It also emphasizes the importance of community rules and conventions in discouraging harmful behavior, and encourages Party members and officials to lead by example in promoting positive cultural-ethical values.
The issue of high “bride prices” is a long-standing tradition in Chinese culture. Originally intended as a symbolic gesture of goodwill between the families of the bride and groom, this practice has evolved over time, and in some areas, has become an exorbitant demand that places a significant financial burden on the groom’s family.
In addition to tackling the issue of high “bride prices,” the central document also seeks to address the problem of extravagant wedding ceremonies in rural areas. In recent years, many families in rural China have gone into debt to finance elaborate weddings, often in an attempt to keep up with societal expectations or to signal their wealth and status.
By promoting the construction of public cultural-ethical standards in rural areas, the central government hopes to address these problematic cultural practices and promote more positive values and behaviors. This includes encouraging the development of new norms and customs that are more suitable for modern times, as well as promoting the importance of community rules and conventions in promoting social harmony and stability.
The issue of high bride prices in China has been a growing concern for many years. For some families, especially those in rural areas or low-income families, the cost of a bride’s dowry can be financially devastating. In some cases, families are forced to use up their savings for their sons to get married. This has resulted in some young couples breaking up or falling out over high betrothal prices, causing emotional turmoil and financial strain.
To address this problem, many cities and provinces in China have intensified their efforts to rein in exorbitant bride prices. In September 2022, eight national departments issued a notice to address the issue of excessive bride prices and extravagant wedding ceremonies in rural areas. They rolled out a special work plan for a nationwide campaign to tackle the problem.
Cities in East China’s Jiangxi Province, which have long been known for their exorbitant bride prices, are stepping up campaigns to address the problem. On September 28, 2022, Guangchang county in Jiangxi held a group wedding for 10 couples with a “zero bride price.” This was done to promote a newlywed fashion that does not require a high bride price. The livestream of the group wedding was watched by more than 40,000 people.
An official from Shangrao, another city in Jiangxi, who requested anonymity, revealed that some urban areas have bride prices ranging from 100,000 to 150,000 yuan ($14,700 to $22,000), while in some rural areas, it’s even higher, with prices of 188,000 and 288,000 yuan being common in less economically developed areas. Such exorbitant bride prices never used to be a folk custom or tradition of Jiangxi, according to the official.
While the high cost of a bride’s dowry has been a concern in China for many years, it is only recently that cities and provinces have taken significant steps to address the problem. By holding group weddings with zero bride prices, some cities are promoting a newlywed fashion that does not require a large dowry. This can help to reduce the financial strain on families and prevent young couples from falling out over high betrothal prices.
This issue of high bride prices in China has been a growing concern for many years, with some families having to use their savings for their sons to get married. However, with the recent campaigns launched by many cities and provinces across China, the problem is being addressed. By promoting a newlywed fashion that does not require a high bride price, families can be spared the financial strain, and young couples can be spared the emotional turmoil of high betrothal prices. This will ultimately lead to healthier and more stable relationships, which are vital for the overall well-being of individuals and society.
In recent years, the increase in people’s income and living standards has led to a rise in the demand for higher “bride prices” in China. However, some officials believe that the practice of tying lifelong happiness to material conditions goes against traditional values. This has led to a call to restrict excessive and unaffordable “bride prices” while still allowing the tradition to continue.
According to Zhang Yiwu, a professor at Peking UniversitA beautiful Chinese couple, basking in the euphoria of marital bliss.y, while the government’s efforts to alleviate the problem of exorbitant “bride prices” are expected to have some impact, the custom is deeply rooted in some areas and will take time to eradicate. Therefore, it is important to promote a more rational range for “bride prices”. However, the success of this approach largely depends on the level of local economic development and the mindset of the people.
Mu Guangzong, a professor at the Institute of Population Research with Peking University, believes that the rise in “bride prices” is due to over-materialism and the extreme wealth gap between rich and poor. In addition, the concept of son preference in many rural areas has led to an imbalance in the male to female ratio. As a result, it has become difficult for men to find a wife, leading to an increase in the “bride price.”
Furthermore, social issues such as comparison psychology, the protection of women’s interests after marriage, gender equality, and marriage values also play a role in determining the “bride price,” according to Mu. The practice has resulted in a decline in marriage registrations in recent years. Therefore, by encouraging reasonable “bride prices”, young people might be more willing to get married, resulting in higher marriage registrations, more stable marriages, and fewer divorced couples due to money troubles.
In conclusion, the issue of “bride prices” is a complex one that is deeply rooted in traditional practices, social norms, and economic conditions. While it may not be possible to completely eradicate the practice, efforts to promote more reasonable “bride prices” can help alleviate the problem and encourage more stable marriages.