Chinese county bans wedding guests from ‘egging’ grooms and tying them to trees

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Images of grooms tied to poles and doused with beer are common on Chinese social media.

The Chinese tradition of wedding hazing, which can include humiliating and sometimes violent pranks, has been banned by several county authorities in China who slammed the practice as a “sign of declining morality”.

Key points:

  • The hazing tradition known as hunnao dates back thousands of years and was originally intended to ward off evil spirits
  • A Shen county notice also warned against “indecent role playing”
  • Videos posted on social media show unhappy newlyweds being doused with flour and cream

Stripping grooms and tying them to trees or telephone poles, as well as egging and pouring beer, sauce and other food items onto the happy couple, are now punishable offences according to a WeChat post on Sunday by authorities in Shen county in the Eastern province of Shandong.

Nearby Rizhao county also recently announced a crackdown on the practice, and in December, the Ministry of Civil Affairs urged local governments to regulate “vulgar” wedding customs including lavish weddings, costly betrothal gifts and hazing.

The hazing tradition — known as “hunnao” in Chinese — dates back thousands of years and was originally intended to ward off evil spirits.

While the custom often amounts to no more than playful jokes, in rural areas of China, guests have been known to take the practice to extreme levels that on occasion have resulted in serious injury.

People throw eggs at a naked man tied to a pole in the middle of the road.

In January, the South China Morning Post reported that one groom sued his guests after he was struck by a car as he fled his tormentors.

He had been tied to a power pole, egged, beaten and covered with ink before he fled into heavy traffic. The accident left him with a fractured skull and internal bleeding.

Last year, a video of a groom covered in deep lacerations after being lashed by guests in Hunan province went viral. The video showed laughing guests rubbing salt into his wounds.

One guest told local reporters the lashings were a local custom.

“By beating up the bridegroom, it sends a message that marriage is not easy. Hope he can cherish it all,” the Global Times quoted the guest as saying.

The Shen county notice also warned against “indecent role playing”.

Videos of “wedding games” that involve the groping of brides and bridesmaids as well as other acts bordering on sexual assault have been circulating on social media.

Other videos show unhappy newlyweds being doused with flour, cream and other food items.

While Shen county has warned that offenders who “disturb public order” or “make a bad social impact” will now be punished, it did not elaborate on what the specific punishment is.

Two men are taped to trees and doused in food.