View Poll Results: Sabo the groom? OK or not?

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  • Female perspective: It's OK! It's all in the name of fun.

    5 5.26%
  • Female perspective: No, it's not OK.

    3 3.16%
  • Male perspective: It's OK! I'm game for it!

    23 24.21%
  • Male perspective: No, it's not OK.

    64 67.37%
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Thread: Why ah? S'porean Chinese weddings and the "sabo" culture

  1. #1
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    Default Why ah? S'porean Chinese weddings and the "sabo" culture

    There's this bit about S'porean Chinese weddings that I don't quite get - Why is there a need to humiliate the husband at the gate of the bride's place? I remember maybe 10-20 years ago, it was just a simple bargaining/haggling over ang-paos at the gate, but of late, the jiemei's seem to think that it's their duty to give the groom sh*t before allowing him in. Serenading to her in front of the whole block is OK. Shouting and declaring his love for her is OK. But what's up with all this bra and panties nonsense? A wedding, to me, is the celebration of the union of two people/families. It's supposed to be a dignified event. Friends are supposed to enjoy the moment with the couple, but there's always this S'porean propensity to laugh at people, rather than with them.

    Are you going to show your kids your wedding day photos, when daddy had to run around the neighbourhood, wearing a bra and panties over his wedding suit, and wearing lipstick while kissing his best man? Sure it's funny now, but I think it's embarassing really. No other culture I know of subjects the groom to such pranks.

    I know it's merely my opinion, but I say that this cycle of childishness has got to stop.

    What say you?
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Why ah? S'porean Chinese weddings and the "sabo" culture

    My ideal wedding is a garden wedding, peaceful and nice. And the couple enjoys the experience.

    The thing why modern chinese weddings becomes a "sabo the groom" is also due to modernisation. See how recent birthday parties are becoming? Humiliation games...dirty games...taupok...one day when the taupok generation grows up, you will see grooms being taupok everywhere left right center in weddings!!!

    It moves on to the wedding you see.

    Personally, it is not the least bit funny to sabo the groom. The couple should be the most respected on the wedding day, THEY should be the ones having fun. The original tradition by the way is not HUMILIATION but the act of overcoming obstacles to meet the bride thru activities like declaring your love etc etc....

    I've recently seen one particular obstacle which the groom has to drink a "concoction" of soya sauce, chili sauce, sesame paste, etc etc... Are you trying to make him SICK before the wedding night?

    So for my wedding, I WILL plan it MYSELF.

    Last edited by tkbonz; 24th May 2008 at 10:23 AM.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Why ah? S'porean Chinese weddings and the "sabo" culture

    i posted the same thing in the Wedding Portraits forum recently.
    Lots of pictures in that forum show the groom either in underwear over his suit
    or eating some kind of weird stuff. They LOVE to do it in HDB flats and make
    a big scene too. Totally childish and dumb.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Why ah? S'porean Chinese weddings and the "sabo" culture

    I managed to talk my way out of mine, so can't speak from own experience. Many of my clients (groom) said it's ok, but of course would be better without it. Most of their brides didn't seem to think it was necessary, but assumed it's part of tradition.

    Which comes to my question, and I will be most grateful to any answer.

    For the 'traditional' Chinese wedding, the wife arrives at the groom's place in a sedan. The groom "kicks" the door of the sedan, receives the bride and proceeds to the altar for some customary rites, followed by the tea ceremony with their parents and grand parents. And then the banquet after that of course.

    My question is:

    Where did "picking the bride from her place" evolve from?
    Where did door bargaining come from? Even the ang pao part?
    Where did the groom humiliation come from? I personally don't buy the excuse of how it shows the groom's love for the bride. If I am paid to sit and think, I am sure I can think of a million other ways to show the love.
    And most importantly, since when, and from where, is table shots part of tradition?

    Because the other guy is doing it?

    I'm not trying to be negative or sarcastic. I'm guinuinely interested, as both a Chinese as well as someone who has a keen interest in culture and tradition. I have lots of respect for the different forms of cultures and traditions, so would really love to learn more about my own. But if the current practice is a result of 'monkey see, monkey do' with little real historical value nor significance, then I say out the window it goes.
    Last edited by shinken; 24th May 2008 at 10:32 AM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Why ah? S'porean Chinese weddings and the "sabo" culture

    This is a very good question.

    I personally have no idea where the hell this tradition comes from. And I bet if you ask anyone, they won't know either. They will claim it's tradition, but if you ask them to think further back in time, does anyone actually participate in this sabo thing? Yes it would blow their mind that they don't know.

    The real reason why people still engage in it is because they can't think of anything else to replace the activity.

    It is just plain silly.

    Any girls would like to comment?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Why ah? S'porean Chinese weddings and the "sabo" culture

    Quote Originally Posted by shinken View Post
    My question is:

    Where did "picking the bride from her place" evolve from?
    Where did door bargaining come from? Even the ang pao part?
    Where did the groom humiliation come from? I personally don't buy the excuse of how it shows the groom's love for the bride. If I am paid to sit and think, I am sure I can think of a million other ways to show the love.
    And most importantly, since when, and from where, is table shots part of tradition?

    Because the other guy is doing it?

    I'm not trying to be negative or sarcastic. I'm guinuinely interested, as both a Chinese as well as someone who has a keen interest in culture and tradition. I have lots of respect for the different forms of cultures and traditions, so would really love to learn more about my own. But if the current practice is a result of 'monkey see, monkey do' with little real historical value nor significance, then I say out the window it goes.
    Well, the S'porean Chinese community (I am also Chinese, btw) has developed its own version of "culture" that is unique to this country. Yes, much of it is probably based on the impact of modern society? Nobody really knows why the whole process must start so early. Some say its due to "auspicious timing", but even those who do not believe in this notion will start the wedding process at 7am anyway.

    "Ang pao" bargaining, I think I can understand. It's a symbol of wealth, and hence shows that the husband is financially stable enough to support the wife (The Malays also have this practice). Then there's this bit about the symbolic gesture of the husband overcoming obstacles to prove his love for his wife, which explains the mushy poems and singing of sentimental songs out loud. But I think this sabo thing is really a case of pushing it too far.

    And ah, as for photos of table-to-table shots, it's purely for marking attendance and as a means of evidence that you (as guest) have given the couple enough face to show up.

    Well, I guess a lot of it is about following trends and yup, monkey see, monkey do. Might be because we don't understand our own culture, so we invent stuff along the way and call it "tradition".
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    Default Re: Why ah? S'porean Chinese weddings and the "sabo" culture

    Quote Originally Posted by Parka View Post
    This is a very good question.

    I personally have no idea where the hell this tradition comes from. And I bet if you ask anyone, they won't know either. They will claim it's tradition, but if you ask them to think further back in time, does anyone actually participate in this sabo thing? Yes it would blow their mind that they don't know.

    The real reason why people still engage in it is because they can't think of anything else to replace the activity.

    It is just plain silly.

    Any girls would like to comment?
    I guess it's just a S'porean thing to want to be entertained, but too kiasi to be part of the action themselves. So I sabo you, lor. I think it's funny, what.

    It's not only the girls lah. The guys are also guilty, often trying to ply the groom with weird concoctions at the end of the evening. In some other cultures, everybody drinks and gets stupid together. Here, we just want to see the fella get drunk so that we can laugh at him. We won't want to get drunk ourselves because it would be embarassing.

    What I'd really like to know is, are there many/any guys who have been through a S'porean Chinese wedding, sabo sessions and all, and still managed to have enough energy and coherence to make magic with his wife on the wedding night? Several that I've spoken to say they just simply KO after the whole thing.

    Yeah, a memorable day indeed, huh?
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Why ah? S'porean Chinese weddings and the "sabo" culture

    Anyway, it's quite safe to just say no when you're the victim of such sabo attempts. Afterall, the bride has to be received by a certain auspicious hour. So talk rubbish with the bridesmaid at the door until that time can already.

    Ang Bao as I learned from my friend, any amount also can. I think my friend gave only $4 or something. It's a ridiculously low amount because it was nearing auspicious time and the bridesmaid "had no choice" but to let him in.

    In the end, it's how confident the bridegroom.

    Don't give in to idiotic behaviour.

    Let's just say that idiotic behaviour begets idiotic behaviour.
    Last edited by Parka; 24th May 2008 at 11:09 AM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Why ah? S'porean Chinese weddings and the "sabo" culture

    Quote Originally Posted by Parka View Post
    Anyway, it's quite safe to just say no when you're the victim of such sabo attempts. Afterall, the bride has to be received by a certain auspicious hour. So talk rubbish with the bridesmaid at the door until that time can already.

    Ang Bao as I learned from my friend, any amount also can. I think my friend gave only $4 or something. It's a ridiculously low amount because it was nearing auspicious time and the bridesmaid "had no choice" but to let him in.

    In the end, it's how confident the bridegroom.

    Don't give in to idiotic behaviour.

    Let's just say that idiotic behaviour begets idiotic behaviour.
    Yeah! Heard of one case, the groom and his buddies, on hearing the ridiculous demands, all go downstairs and smoke one corner. Mother-in-law panic about the auspicious time, so no choice but to let the fella in simple. Quite steady, I say.

    But to prevent unpleasantness on the day, bride- and groom-to-be must settle and agree on the sabo issue. No last minute surprises, and make sure jiemeis (and the brothers at the end of the dinner banquet) get the idea and give due respect to the requests.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Why ah? S'porean Chinese weddings and the "sabo" culture

    Actually, I do understanding the meaning behind those actions. I'm not claiming that they're meaningingless. I'm claiming that it's not necessarily a Chinese tradition. But I'm sure you already see my point.

    While I do see the meaning, I don't agree with it, as I always believe that the wedding day should belong to the bride and groom. They've went through a long journey of self-discovery, of learning to accept and appreciate each other's strengths and weaknesses. They've made up their mind to live with each other despite the sacrifices they may have to make, and the uncertainty of the future as a result of the sacrifices. The wedding day marks a new beginning of their love journey as one. So it should be for the bride and groom.

    Not for the friends' and relatives amusement.

    Of course, the celebration should involve the friends and family where everyone has fun. But it doesn't have to be at the expense of the groom. Not in terms of public humiliation. Not in terms of financial stress, when the next page of life is gonna hold lots of financial pressures.

    I have couples who have lots of ideas for their dream wedding (which is what it should be about). I would understand that they have to sacrifice it, if they cannot afford it on their own. But it comes down to:

    "Oh, we always wanted to have an outdoor wedding at sunrise, but we need to follow tradition" (huh?)

    "Oh, we must have table shots, because it's tradition" (At the expense of neglecting their best friends who want so much to be part of the day? At the expense of fun and games they actually would have preferred? Even if they're already dead tired by then? Is this 'attendance taking' gonna be any use at all? Are the relatives gonna put into a photo frame and look at it? I mean for Table no. 20 - 30?)

    "Must sabo, otherwise my sisters don't like" (Huh? Whose wedding is it again? Plus there was one session which got the groom so sick and pale for the banquet, to the amusement of the 'good friends')

    Most of my clients are thinking folks who are non-conformists like myself, so I love being part of their weddings. But when I see couples who have to devote the most important day of their lives to the pseudo tradition, at the expense of their own memories, their own romance, their own magical moments, I feel sorry for them. They want that first dance during banquet. But no time, they say. Need table shots and too many tables. I can never forget the time when I attended my best gal friend's wedding. I was so happy for her and I had so much to say to her. In the end, I could only talk to her for a few seconds during the 'table shots' for the most important day of her life! I wasn't there to celebrate the big day with her. I was just there to have a very expensive dinner with people I don't really know.

    Most couples want their wedding to be a fairytale come true. Not wearing red panties over pants and showed over the large screen to 200 over strangers laughing at them. They want it to be a day of fun and romance, but can't help it but fulfill the obligations of those around them. I dare say many of us are responsible for perpetuating this as well.

    I believe the wedding day should not, and need not a day of fatigue and responsibility. If the sacrifice is for a reason, then I understand. If the sacrifice is a result of 'following the next guy', I can't help but feel sorry for the couple.

    Quote Originally Posted by synapseman View Post
    Well, the S'porean Chinese community (I am also Chinese, btw) has developed its own version of "culture" that is unique to this country. Yes, much of it is probably based on the impact of modern society? Nobody really knows why the whole process must start so early. Some say its due to "auspicious timing", but even those who do not believe in this notion will start the wedding process at 7am anyway.

    "Ang pao" bargaining, I think I can understand. It's a symbol of wealth, and hence shows that the husband is financially stable enough to support the wife (The Malays also have this practice). Then there's this bit about the symbolic gesture of the husband overcoming obstacles to prove his love for his wife, which explains the mushy poems and singing of sentimental songs out loud. But I think this sabo thing is really a case of pushing it too far.

    And ah, as for photos of table-to-table shots, it's purely for marking attendance and as a means of evidence that you (as guest) have given the couple enough face to show up.

    Well, I guess a lot of it is about following trends and yup, monkey see, monkey do. Might be because we don't understand our own culture, so we invent stuff along the way and call it "tradition".
    Last edited by shinken; 24th May 2008 at 11:51 AM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Why ah? S'porean Chinese weddings and the "sabo" culture

    The practice is akin to ragging of freshmen in tertiary institutions and probably evolved from there.

    The idea is for the freshman or bridegroom (as the case may be) to prove how "sporting" they are by submitting to humiliation.

    I think it's all utter hogwash, and is a simple excuse for exercising the cruelty that is inherent in human nature. When I was a freshman, I looked my senior in the eye and told him in no uncertain terms that he was going too far. I opted out of some of the orientation activities eventually, but hopefully my defiance tempered his actions somewhat and made life a little better for those who stayed.

    But then again those who went through severe ragging (the hostelites, particularly) swear by the experience and say they have become better for it. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

    My own wedding was planned and executed by myself, so no such nonsense occurred (except for a fat photographer who caused a hilarious scene by getting stuck while trying to climb over the altar rail while I was saying my vows, but that's another story).

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Why ah? S'porean Chinese weddings and the "sabo" culture

    Spot on, shinken.

    There ARE ways to have fun together, in a dignified manner.

    The groom will need to be more assertive (unless of course, they really don't mind and take it all in good humour), and the bride will need to be more sensitive to the feelings of the man of her life.

    And if symbolism is linked to "tradition", then it does not bode well for the man if he has to wear women's underwear in public. Might as well ask him to wear a green hat?
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  13. #13

    Default Re: Why ah? S'porean Chinese weddings and the "sabo" culture

    To me, sabotaging the groom somehow takes away some of the elegance and beautiful aspects I would associate with a wedding day. But it all comes down to the culture of so called "norm" of that group of people. Hmmm....how about humiliating the bride for her to show her love for the groom for a start?

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    Default Re: Why ah? S'porean Chinese weddings and the "sabo" culture

    Quote Originally Posted by snowspeeder View Post
    To me, sabotaging the groom somehow takes away some of the elegance and beautiful aspects I would associate with a wedding day. But it all comes down to the culture of so called "norm" of that group of people. Hmmm....how about humiliating the bride for her to show her love for the groom for a start?
    Well, if that were to be the case, I could never bring myself to allow that because I love my wife so much. But maybe a wet T-shirt contest for the jiemeis? Hmm. Oh, right. That "would not be proper".
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    Default Re: Why ah? S'porean Chinese weddings and the "sabo" culture

    Quote Originally Posted by snowspeeder View Post
    To me, sabotaging the groom somehow takes away some of the elegance and beautiful aspects I would associate with a wedding day. But it all comes down to the culture of so called "norm" of that group of people. Hmmm....how about humiliating the bride for her to show her love for the groom for a start?
    later u risk the wedding being cancelled...

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Why ah? S'porean Chinese weddings and the "sabo" culture

    Quote Originally Posted by sandyforever View Post
    i posted the same thing in the Wedding Portraits forum recently.
    Lots of pictures in that forum show the groom either in underwear over his suit
    or eating some kind of weird stuff. They LOVE to do it in HDB flats and make
    a big scene too. Totally childish and dumb.
    I can't understand the sadism of those jiemei in my wedding day.

    They made me running around in our HDB flat in a scarf and swimming goggles and beads and shirtless.

    I think they were jealous of my wife. They wanted me but couldn't get me. So they punished me.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Why ah? S'porean Chinese weddings and the "sabo" culture

    Quote Originally Posted by sprintist View Post
    later u risk the wedding being cancelled...
    Yeah...
    I heard of a case where a groom was so pissed off with the humiliation by the 'sisters' that her walked off in anger (maybe too hot headed or something). Later people got to apologize to him and the rest of the day he had his way.

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    Default Re: Why ah? S'porean Chinese weddings and the "sabo" culture

    Quote Originally Posted by snowspeeder View Post
    Yeah...
    I heard of a case where a groom was so pissed off with the humiliation by the 'sisters' that her walked off in anger (maybe too hot headed or something). Later people got to apologize to him and the rest of the day he had his way.
    omg that is really alittle far fetched and overboard..
    making fun is ok la but humiliating is really too much..later he threaten marry his mistress

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Why ah? S'porean Chinese weddings and the "sabo" culture

    Quote Originally Posted by snowspeeder View Post
    Yeah...
    I heard of a case where a groom was so pissed off with the humiliation by the 'sisters' that her walked off in anger (maybe too hot headed or something). Later people got to apologize to him and the rest of the day he had his way.
    For every action, there's a reaction.

    Only natural.


  20. #20

    Default Re: Why ah? S'porean Chinese weddings and the "sabo" culture

    Is that one of the reasons why guys propose at a later stage these days? After they have overcome the fear of being played pranks on? Lol...

    Personally, I find it silly and childish too but if other jiemeis are playing, just join in.

    My own wedding in the future, if any... Will minus all these nonsense. I dont care about tradition. No stupid wake up early do stupid things and stupid wedding dinner when half of the people you dont know and they go "oh... today is that who's daughter's wedding lor"... They dont even know your name!

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