Chinese parents are well known for pressuring their kids to get hitched quickly after university; some organize blind dates, some nudge toward handsome strangers on the street and some simply use emotional blackmail. But if all else fails, at least when you die you’ll finally get some peace, right?
Sadly, this isn’t the case for a few departed souls in rural Shanxi where a traditional custom allows for marriage after death. So, in this case, even if you are dead, you still can’t be single.
Jesus, even Liam Neeson wasn’t this persistent.
The latest spooky story involves a family in Shanxi holding a “ghost wedding” with a woman’s corpse marrying their son, who died a bachelor. And the woman’s corpse wasn’t free either — try 180,000 yuan ($27,000). And that’s at a discount for local customers, CRI reports.
And where would you find such a corpse? Well, from another set of parents who thought their dead daughter would be a good match with the other couples’ dead son.
So now that that’s all clear… why? Why make your dead children get married? What happens to their souls anyway? Well according to locals who have consulted fortune-tellers, the family will be cursed if their child dies unmarried.
That’s the whole family. Cursed. No wonder parents spend so much time and money digging up a “ghost daughter-in-law.” Traditionally, parents see it as their role to help their sons settle down. Meanwhile, a “ghost wedding” is a good outcome for the parents of a deceased single daughter, who otherwise wouldn’t be allowed a proper burial.
And dead women are also in high-demand in the area, with accidents in the coal mines contributing to a higher death rate for males than females.
Professor Chen Wenhua of Zhejiang University has helpfully said that the government should try to ban this sort of practice, and that people need education on such matters.
We have to agree with the professor here — while “ghost weddings” are technically illegal in China, they have been making a comeback in recent years, which has led to an increase in grave robbers digging up dead women to sell on the black market. Back in 2013, a gang of four was caught selling off 10 corpses for 240,000 yuan.
In case you are curious, while remains of younger women or the recently dead are preferred (and more expensive), decomposed female skeletons are also an option. Robbers reinforce the skeletons with steel wires and dress them up before burial.
By Kitty Lai