Don’t Marry in a ‘Widow Year’? On a Chinese New Year Superstition

Did you know that 2019, the Year of the Pig, was a widow year, and it was supposedly “unlucky for marriage?

A “widow year”?

I’ve heard the term “widow”, a woman whose husband has died, used to describe all sorts of things, from the “widow’s peak” on your hairline to, of course, the deadly “black widow spider”. And given the original meaning of “widow”, the term, when paired with a year, struck me as a rather ominous combination.

This piqued my curiosity, which prompted me to do a little research and learn more about this superstition.

Why do people call it a “widow year”? And why is it supposedly bad for marriage?

A “widow year” means any year in the Chinese lunar calendar without lichun or Spring Commences, one of the 24 solar terms that divide up the lunar year. Specifically, lichun or Spring Commences marks the coming of the spring season.

According to the China Daily article Couples Rush to Tie Knot Ahead of “Widow Year” (published Feb 3, 2010), some Chinese people think of lichun or Spring Commences as “a time of Yang (masculine) energy.” To them, a year without lichun or Spring Commences equals a year without Yang energy as well.

The article provides further clarification:

Superstitious people believe women who get married in a year without the “Spring Commences” day will become widows. … Tradition-bound parents also fear consequences like husbands coming to harm, marriages breaking down and children getting bad luck.

Should you postpone your wedding plans during a “widow year”?

If you’re newly engaged, should you put the nuptials on ice or opt for a speedy elopement before the “widow year” begins?

Well, consider what that China Daily article also said:

Regarding the idea of a “widow year”, Guo Hu, director of Beijing’s Bureau of Meteorology, says that on average, there are seven so-called “widow years” every 19 years. But there are also seven years with two “Spring Commences” days in the same 19 years.

“It is totally groundless to say a year without a Spring Commences day is unlucky,” Guo told the Beijing Daily.

In other words, it all depends on your perspective and what you consider auspicious.

After all, imagine all the hundreds of thousands of people who marry in any given “widow year” around the world. Every single one of these couples could not possibly suffer the same marital misfortune. If a “widow year” truly posed a threat to people everywhere, then why didn’t anyone ever pass the warning on to me while in the US?

And, apparently, a growing number of young Chinese people don’t mind flouting this superstition either, as the China Daily article Vowing to be different with the nuptials notes:

Wang Xiaoqiang, a 26-year-old white collar worker in Shanghai, doesn’t really care that the Year of the Snake 2013 is not regarded as a propitious year for weddings.

“I was told Lunar 2013 is not a good year to get married but that is something believed by elderly people,” said Wang.

In other words, when a “widow year” comes, worry less about the superstition — and follow your heart instead.

What do you think about the “widow year” superstition for Chinese New Year? Would you marry in a “widow year”, or would you postpone your wedding?

Correction: Updated original post, which incorrectly named 2020 as a widow year.

Ask the Yangxifu: Dealing With “How Come You Aren’t Married Yet?”

A blurred photo of a bride and groom on the grass with a bouquet in clear view.
(photo by Fernando Weberich)

Single Overseas Chinese Guy asks:

Although this may not affect you yourself. It affects a whole load of us overseas born Chinese types. Simply how on earth do we respond to the constant questions of how come you aren’t married yet?

Parents go to Chinese weddings, and fiery arguments ensue about getting married.

Fake BFs/GFs are old utilised tricks. But over time they cease to work and to be honest it feels bad tricking parents like this.

In our first generation barely anybody is married these days. But there seems an increasing desperation in the voices of parents wanting you to get married. As if it is a magic bullet or something. They just simply do not seem to realise that getting married isn’t the be all and end all of things. Yet their old fashioned values don’t seem to tie in with single independent people! Continue reading “Ask the Yangxifu: Dealing With “How Come You Aren’t Married Yet?””

2012 Blogs By Western Women Who Love Chinese Men

John and I kissing at our wedding
It's the 2012 list of China blogs by Western women who love Chinese men

It’s March and just days from International Women’s Day — time for an update to my list of blogs by Western women who love Chinese men.

Last year, I had over 30 on my list. This year, it’s over 40. I’m psyched to see the growing number of voices in the community. I also decided to take a stab at grouping the blogs this year — authors, let me know what you think.

So without further ado, here they are: Continue reading “2012 Blogs By Western Women Who Love Chinese Men”

Ask the Yangxifu: Chinese (and Asian) Interracial Wedding Dos and Don’ts

kissing my Chinese husband at our Chinese wedding
Tip #7 on my list? Have fun -- or, in our case, steal a kiss at your Chinese wedding. 😉

For those of you with a Chinese wedding in the works for the new year, this article — titled 7 Interracial Wedding Dos and Don’t for Your Asian Groom — is for you.

Published in the AMWW Magazine, this article, written with the Chinese/Asian men out there in mind, covers what you should keep in mind before you say “I do” to your lovely bride. Here’s an excerpt:

Once my Chinese boyfriend and I became engaged after a long courtship, visions of an interracial Asian wedding in his whitewashed, bucolic country home in China danced through my head. I longed to experience a traditional, intimate Asian wedding, just like his mother and grandmother had done years before. But with a personal twist — a Buddhist vegetarian banquet, prepared by a chef from one of my favorite vegetarian restaurants in Shanghai.

Little did I know, I would end up having a big, fat Asian wedding banquet in an urban hotel in China, with more than 200 guests and a menu of carnivorous delights, including a turtle standing on all four legs.

While this isn’t the usual Q&A I feature on regular Fridays, it does provide a lot of answers to any interracial or cross-cultural couple planning a Chinese wedding. To learn more, read the full article at AMWW Magazine.

P.S.: The Q&A will be back next week, promise. In the meantime, keep those questions coming in, and, as always, thanks for your support. 🙂


Do you have a question about life, dating, marriage and family in China/Chinese culture (or Western culture)? Every Friday, I answer questions on my blog. Send me your question today.