ONE OF THE first things you notice at a Chinese wedding reception is the Chinese character for ‘double happiness’. Among the swaths of vermillion red decorations, the symbol, often drawn in gold calligraphy, accosts you from all directions. There it is, stamped high on the wall above the bridal party for good fortune. Over there, it provides a stunning backdrop for official family photographs – the ones the happy couple will print on the ornamental glasses and crystal paperweights to be delivered to guests afterwards as a thank you gift. Featuring seng hei (double happiness) at your wedding reception is as essential to Chinese weddings as throwing the bouquet and the bride and groom’s first dance are to Australian weddings, the only difference being that if you excluded those traditions from an Australian wedding it would only be considered unconventional. To exclude seng hei from a Chinese wedding is taboo, its absence signalling future misfortune.
Traditionally, double happiness relates specifically to newlyweds and marriage, and the idea that pairs are significant because they lead to children and the continuation of the family line. However, the idea of seng hei lum mun (which directly translates to ‘double happiness arriving at your door’) can also be applied to two joyous occasions occurring simultaneously in everyday life. For example, a pregnancy and a promotion would be cause for double celebration, as would a birthday and graduation; it’s the belief that all good things come in pairs.
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