My sister is getting married next month and we just had her “cookie party” (靓饼) this weekend. We are Cantonese and the “cookie party” tradition for us is to sweeten the parting of the bride from her family, because the idea is when she marries, she will become part of the groom’s family. The groom’s family buys an agreed upon number of cookies and cakes for the bride’s family to distribute to their relatives and friends attending the “cookie party”. If the groom’s family purchases a large number of cookies and cakes, this symbolizes the bride is marrying into great wealth and will be well cared for by the groom’s family.
A whole roast pig or chastity pig is also purchased by the groom’s family. The pig (猪）in Cantonese “ju” sounds the same as “kong sa ju” (宫纱珠), the legendary sign of virginity. In the legend, “kong sa ju”, the red dot placed on a girl’s forearm as a virgin, would disappear when she lost her chastity. The tradition was if a groom was satisfied that his wife was a virgin, he would gift a whole pig complete with its tail. If not, the ears and tail would be broken off.
The groom’s family is suppose to deliver the pig, cookies, cakes, and the rest of the gifts for the “cookie party to” our family’s home but Mike, my sister’s fiancé, and his family live in Boston so they gave my parents the money to order and pick everything up. My sister had a more modern day cookie party!
All of the meat at the “cookie party” had heads and tails to symbolize completeness. Chickens have tender meat which symbolize peace. A pair of chickens are at the party to wish the newlyweds peace as they start their life together.
Here is my sister in front of some of her wedding dowry. Liquor is a part of the party also. I’m just not quite sure what the symbolism is.
These were some of the sweet pastries. My mom went to taste the special “cookie party” pastries at the bakery and decided not to buy a lot of them because she didn’t think our Americanized palates would like them.
My brother chopped up all of the meat. He has watched the restaurants in Chinatown chop meat for years and was excited to do this. We made him wear a glove because well…he is my brother.
Here is our family in front of the “cookie party” feast. Wearing red or reddish color was a requirement for the party because red symbolizes good luck. You can’t see it in the photo but my pants were red-orange.
The party was filled with relatives and my parent’s friends. I’ve come to realize after my own “cookie party” and now my sister’s, the “cookie party” is really a party for the bride’s parents…haha!
After the groom’s family delivers the pig, the bride’s family is suppose to cut off the head and tail and give them back to the groom’s family. This is to symbolize that everything has a beginning and end. The bride’s family also gives the groom a wallet, belt, suit, and money to symbolize prosperity and completeness. My sister took the head and tail home to Mike the next day.
Instead of buying the traditional cookies and cakes, my mom ordered a cake from Lulu’s Cake Boutique, our favorite cake bakery.
And of course the party would not be complete without jewelry from the groom. It is tradition the groom buy a pair of dragon and phoenix bangles for the bride to be worn at the wedding. The dragon and phoenix symbolize a blissful union. Seeing these bangles reminds me of how much jewelry the bride gets at weddings. We have two girls, my husband is in trouble!
I tried to find some pictures from my “cookie party” but seven years ago I was not photographing like I do now. So I’ll just have to relive the memories through my sister’s photos. It was a wonderful party and everyone is getting really excited for the wedding next month.
Did you have a “cookie party” or pre-wedding celebration?
Talk soon, C xo