Episode 20: The Matchmaker

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It is almost the Valentine’s day! I hope people who are in relationships can spend a romantic day with your loved one and people who are single can find your loved one. Or you can show your love to yourself. I feel in Asian culture, people really believe in destiny especially in love life or maybe it is a universal thing. 

Today we are going to talk about the god of marriages and matchmaker in Chinese mythology. When we talk about matchmaker, what kind of image do you have? In my mind middle aged ladies are the group of people who are mostly interested in setting up blind dates. However, the god of marriages and matchmaker in Chinese mythology is an old guy. We call him YueXiaLaoRen月下老人 or YueLao月老 as simplified, which means the old man under the moon.

It was originally recorded in the book DingHunDian定婚店 from Tang Dynasty 唐朝. There was a guy from Tang Dynasty named WeiGu韦固, one day he visited the city of Song宋城 where he saw an old man sitting there and leaning on his bag while he was reading a book under the moon. Out of curiosity, WeiGu asked him what he was reading and the old man replied a book listing marriages. He then asked what is in his bag and the old man asked red cords for tying the feet of couples. Even if the couples were enemies or lived in different places, the red cord can make them into a great couple. So the couple can meet each other following the red cord.

月老2

Since WeiGu was single at that time, he asked the old man who would be his wife. That’s a risky question. Do you want to know who you would be married to if you have a chance? If it is not what you wanted what would you do? This was definitely what happened to WeiGu. He was told that his future wife would be the 3 year old daughter of the blind woman who was selling vegetables in the marketplace. She was not a pretty girl and from a low class family. WeiGu was not happy. He was actually very angry. He wanted to change his future so he did something cruel. He let his servant to kill the girl. They didn’t succeed and only hurt the girl’s eyebrow. For the next ten years or so, WeiGu joined the army in XiangZhou相州, the governor really liked him and gave his daughter in marriage with WeiGu. The governor’s daughter was a beauty however she always sticked a flower next to her eyebrows. And later he found out the flower was to cover a scar she got when she was a kid. Now you already guess his wife was the 3 year old girl he tried to kill. The governor adopted her when she was a kid. Since he married the daughter of the governor, WeiGu and his children had a wealthy life after all. Not sure if WeiGu ever told his wife the whole story before he died.

After that we have the god of marriages, an old guy with gray hair and beard however looks young. He usually holds the matchmaking book in his left hand and a cane in his right hand. There are still YueLao temples in China especially in Taiwan. Couples can go there to ask YueLao for a good marriage and singles can go there and ask YueLao for a relationship. You can get those red cords from the temples like it says in the myth.

It’s funny that in Greek mythology Cupid , as a naughty kid, is a love god, which makes sense that love is crazy and unexpected. Anyone can fall in love with anyone in any time. However, as a god in charge of marriages, an old wise guy may be a better choice.

Mentioned:

月下老人 YueXiaLaoRen/the old man under the moon

定婚店 DingHunDian

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