Two visitors take a selfie at a lantern show on Lantern Festival in Hengshui, Hebei province, Feb 11, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]
Other opportunities to find love
In the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476BC), there was an annual "Mid-Spring Meeting" on the third day of lunar March that provided unmarried people a chance to get to know each other.
In The Rites of Zhou (Zhou Li), a Chinese book on organizational and bureaucracy theory from the middle of the 2nd century BC, recorded that men and women who fell in love during this meeting can get married freely without their parents interfering.
On this day, unmarried females who often stayed at home would come out and had fun near the river bank. Each single man would let his cup of wine run down from the upper reaches of the river. And the woman had to take the wine if a cup stopped before her. Once she and the cup's owner were satisfied with each other, they would have free communication later.
Marriages in ancient China and official matchmakers
As early as the Zhou Dynasty (c.11th century-256BC), officials in charge of people's marriages were common. The Rites of Zhou recorded the creation of this position of managing people's marriages. During the Three Kingdoms (220-280), Southern frontiers in China that were still behind in civilization had official matchmakers as well.
The traditional complicated engagement processes were also simplified by the policies of the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties, to encourage more people to get married quickly. Official matchmakers became more professional, especially appointed by the government with certifications later in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). And in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), there were many such matchmakers in Xinjiang where large numbers of male criminals and farmers were sent for land reclamation. And to make them settle down, official matchmakers would help the singles find spouses. Yet not all of them were lucky enough to marry due to the small number of women in the area.