Live along the Ili River in Xinjiang and in Liaoning Province, Xibe ethnic group speak a Manchu-Tungus language, worship ancestors and honor pantheon of gods that include the Insect King, Dragon King, Earth Spirit and Smallpox Spirit.
Unlike other ethnic minorities, Xibe young people usually set up their relationship through arrow shooting event, for arrow, as a tool of hunting, play very important part in their daily life. If a boy wants to show his affection towards a girl, he should win the heart of the girl through competitive shooting skills. If a girl falls love with a boy, she will express her affection through drawing the bow together with the boy.
When the boy and girl decide to get married, the boy’s parents will invite a matchmaker to the girl’s family with presents. If the girl’s parents accept the presents, they will together discuss the details of wedding and choose an auspicious date of holding wedding. In accord with the local rituals and customsn of the Xibe people, they usually have their wedding ceremonies in the late autumn or early winter.
For Xibe people, engagement is very important. According to the local rituals and customs, the betrothal ceremony is held at the girl’s house, and they need to invite lots of their relatives. At the Xibe ethnic minority ceremony, the boy’s parents should present the girl betrothal gifts, including clothes for daughter-in-law as well as her parents, and certain amounts of cash. After that, the girl should also give pairs of handmade socks and shoes to the boy’s parents.
On the wedding day, trousseau must be sent by the bride’s relatives. And the bride’s mother will put a red packet into the box, showing her best wish of happy and rich life for the new couple when opening the box to show trousseau. When the groom arrives at the bride’s house, the bride’s father sends two bottles full of five cereals to the bride, hoping them have a bumper grain harvest.
There is an interesting custom “Scrambling for the Sheep’s Bone”. After the bride and groom bow to Heaven and Earth, the brothers and sisters from both sides will get together at the bridal chamber to scramble for the sheep’s bones. It is said that the relatives from the groom’s family getting the bone means the bride is diligent as well as hard working and can bring up their children, and the relatives from the bride’s family getting the bone means the bride can run their house well.
At the banquet, the bride and groom should toast every guest to show her gratitude towards the guests’ attendance. The guests feel free to enjoy the banquet and could cut some meat to take home.