Last night, after a lovely weekend with The Candyman (we saw the last Harry Potter movie, which I thoroughly enjoyed and we found a decent sushi place, right by our house!) I was thumbing through the August Brides magazine whilst lounging on the couch. You know how every magazine has one little snippet article on the very last page? Well this month it was a list. Come to find out it, it was an eye opening lesson in fortune and duck bills….
After The Candyman and I got married, I received several very thoughtful gifts from my Asian vendors. Celebrating marriage and weddings in general are BIG time in Asia. There is no “Should we invite….?” because the answer is always yes. Have you passed them on the street on the way to work every day for the last 5 years? Then you invite them to your wedding. Period. And expect them to bring friends. And family. I remember one of my vendors inviting several of us to her eldest brother’s wedding the week of the wedding. I remember tentatively asking her if that would be allowed, or appropriate – something along those lines. With a flip of her hand, she brushed away my comment like it was an annoying gnat. “Of course you come. I invite. You come. You be in Hong Kong on Friday?” Sadly, I was not to be in Hong Kong on Friday and would not make the wedding. I actually felt some relief thinking to myself, “One less place setting the bride need not worry about.”
If you’re a long time reader of this blog, you’ll remember several posts I’d written while overseas. I played the ultimate wedding crasher on several occasions, taking pictures of the weddings that were a nearly daily event in my Hong Kong hotel (weddings are planned on dates that are auspicious for the bride and groom and are not just a weekend ordeal). You can see some of the posts here, here, here and here, if you’re interested.
So anyway, one of the presents I got was from a Korean vendor. I had only met with him on one occasion, though had worked via email together for a little over a year. To be honest, I was a little shocked when the package arrived! I certainly wasn’t expecting the beautiful, red damask silk box with black frog closures and tassels. It was gorgeous! I opened the box to find two carved wooden ducks nestled together in folks of red silk. One duck had red and blue silk cords tied around the bill and the other was plain. I figured it was a a boy duck and a girl duck. Cute! I wrote the vendor a thank you email and a question about the ducks and what they represented, if anything. He responded with a message that I didn’t really understand. I think it was something like, “Marriage is good luck with ducks.” I figured it was a Korean good luck symbol and thought nothing more of it.
So fast forward to Sunday and I’m sitting on the couch, reading the last page article in Brides, “15 ways to get lucky on your big day. Cement your good fortune with these quirky wedding traditions from around the world.” The picture in the article showed two carved wooden ducks, one with a red silk cord tied around his bill and the other with blue. The blurb read:
Korea: Display wooden ducks at the vows. Not only do they represent you and your guy, they also promise a union marked by togetherness. At the wedding display two wooden ducks bill-to-bill – it means you have an awesome relationship.
Please note that those words are not mine. I would never say the word “awesome” in reference my relationship with The Candyman. I left that particular vernacular in 1986.
I currently have the ducks displayed on a shelf. Their heads are on little wooden pegs so you can actually turn them to look in any direction. I had the duck’s bodies facing one another, but with their heads turned away, because that’s how they came in the box. I realize now that it was just to save box space (which I totally should have considered seeing that my job often required me to be a bit of a packaging engineer). I made an exclamation to The Candyman and jumped up and turned the little duck heads so that they were bill-to-bill. I wonder-worried to myself, “Did having the bills turned away from each other bring us bad luck? Did I unknowingly bring ‘unawesomeness’ into the marriage? Eeeeps!” While not superstitious per se, I‘m not one to take chances with Fate, Mother Nature or ancient Asian cultures. I know better than to fuck with that stuff. Karma is a bitch and you really don’t want to mess with her.
So now, our little wooden ducks look like this:
So just in case you want to know about the other 14 countries and their good luck stuffs, here are the other bits from the article:
Bulgaria: Step into the church right foot first and your marriage will be blessed.
Cambodia: Bring a sword to the I do’s. The blade confers harmony and strength – and helps make your wishes come true.
China: Light firecrackers after the ceremony to chase away evil spirits.
Egypt: Let the women at your celebration give you a pinch. (What’s a little pain for good juju?)
England: Carry a beribboned horseshoe during your ceremony, then hang it above your doorway. (Make sure the ends are pointing up!)
Germany: Smash dishes the night before you get hitched and nothing will be broken in your haus.
Holland: Plant Lilies of the Valley around your home and your love with renew every spring.
India: Have an artist paint your hands and feet with intricate henna designs. The darker the ink, the more luck you will have.
Ireland: Add some lavender, a harbinger of happiness, to your bouquet.
Nigeria: Wash your feet with cold water before crossing your threshold. According to Yoruba custom, you’ll start marriage with a clean slate.
Poland: Feel free to cry during the ceremony. A few tears now mean none in the years to come.
Romania: Share braided bread baked by the bride’s godmother. Eat a piece and fortune will smile on you all year long.
Thailand: Ask guests to tie a white string, or sal sin, around each of your wrists. Want maximum luck? Wear them for at least three days.
Interesting and fun, right? What, if any, good luck customs did you or will you incorporate into your wedding and marriage?