Some people are dying to get married. Some people die to get married. In China, the tradition of Ghost Weddings is making a comeback. This is actually an ancient tradition, but in recent years it’s been making a resurrection in Shanxi province.
It’s considered bad luck if a young man dies before getting married. So earlier this year, a family in Shanxi married their son, three years deceased, to the corpse of a woman from a local village. And it was a bargain at only $27,000! I am not making this up. In fact, that was a discount price because the bride’s family felt it was a good social match. Ghosts can be such snobs about social status.
So why are Ghost Weddings haunting the people of Shanxi again? Well, for one, there’s a lot of coal mines in Shanxi. Chinese coal mines and survival, don’t really go together. Kind of like Vegemite and anything else.
In other words, there’s a lot of eligible dead bachelors who need dead bachelorettes. So many, that grave robbing is becoming a thing. According to local police reports, at least three dozen female bodies have been stolen from their graves in the past three years.
If this sounds extreme, it’s just the beginning. Because this is just one current manifestation of a much larger crisis facing China. Too many men.
You may have heard the term “leftover women.” That’s what the Chinese government’s supposedly feminist All-China Women’s Federation calls unmarried women over the age of 27. They wasted time getting an education and now they’re too old to find a man, at least according to China’s Feminist Association. Basically what they’re really saying is, “FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, MARRY! MARRY NOW!”
Because China’s real problem isn’t leftover women. It’s leftover men. Decades of the One Child Policy plus sex-selective abortion and female infanticide have led to this: There are 22 million more men than women in China. And by 2040 that number could be 40 million.
And when state-run party mouthpiece China Daily tries to tell you that this isn’t a problem, and uses a cute cartoon to illustrate its point, you just know IT’S A HUGE PROBLEM.
These men are referred to as “bare branches” because they’re not adding to the family tree, and usually they’re poor, rural, and uneducated. And they also contribute to China’s rising problems with prostitution, sex trafficking, violence, and ethnic strife.
And apparently, when they die in horrific accidents caused by insanely bad safety conditions in really terrible jobs, they’ll still be competing for corpse brides.
So what do you think of Ghost Weddings? And what do you think the gender imbalance means for China’s future? Leave your comments below.