Visiting Shanghai Marriage Market is one of the best things to do to explore local life in Shanghai. Unlike other love markets in Asia where young people look for dating partners, marriage markets in China are dominated by parents who gather to find potential spouses for their children.
I know. It blew my mind when I first got to know the concept behind marriage markets in China as well.
Shanghai Marriage Market is one of the most popular marriage markets in China and we’ll find out why below. If this event sounds intriguing to you, read on to learn more about what you should know before arriving.
Where is Shanghai Marriage Market?
Shanghai Marriage Market takes place at People’s Park (Renmin Park) in Huangpu District. To get to People’s Park, you can take the metro Line 1, Line 2, or Line 8 to People’s Square Station.
The market is open from noon to around 5 pm every Saturday and Sunday. Upon entering People’s Park, you can immediately recognize it from the sight of dozens of colorful umbrellas lined up nicely.
What do people do at Shanghai’s Marriage Market?
At Shanghai Marriage Market, local parents showcase their children’s hand-written “resumes” on their umbrellas with the hope of finding potential sons/daughters-in-law.
Interestingly, I noticed that most resumes on display at Shanghai Marriage Market were from women looking for husbands.
While some parents stay at their “station”, others go around and “shop” for their perfect daughters or sons-in-law. Upon finding a match, the parents will exchange contact info and arrange a date for their sons and daughters. Imagine your parents taking the hassle out of dating for you! Pretty fascinating, isn’t it?
What makes Shanghai Marriage Market so popular?
Why do people take part in marriage markets in China?
Having your children well married is of crucial importance in China. Traditionally, there are unofficial “milestones” in life that people expect you to reach, such as getting married at 25, having children by the age of 27, and buying a house before 30. Accordingly, if your son or daughter still remains single by that age, you’d better freak out and secure a slot at one of the popular marriage markets.
Furthermore, marriage markets in China nowadays allow people to maintain the age-old customs of match-making and arranged marriages. In the past, Chinese parents played a key role in deciding whom their children could get married to, whereas the children had little or no say in that matter. The parents would discuss their son or daughter’s qualities with the match-maker, who then would find them another family with similar requests. While such practices are less popular nowadays, Chinese parents still want to take an active role in their children’s dating. That’s how marriage markets still remain quite popular today.
What makes Shanghai Marriage Market so popular?
Shanghai is China’s national center of commerce and trade with the second-highest average monthly income. The city offers a high standard of living and ample career opportunities, which is why many people want to find a spouse and then settle here.
As real estate prices in Shanghai have rocketed over the past few years, it’s also more beneficial to tie the knot with someone who, or whose family, already owns a house in this city.
What do people write on their “resumes”?
The majority of these resumes are written in Mandarin, in which the children’s Zodiac sign, occupation, physical appearance, monthly income, and assets are clearly stated.
There are also particular requirements for the other side, such as a minimum annual income, minimum education level, and specific physical traits. You know, being tall and stuff. It seems Shanghai’s parents are not very discreet about what they offer and what they hope to receive.
One interesting thing I noticed here is that in the resumes, the parents made sure to mention if they held a Shanghai household registration book (Hukou). There used to be a wide discrepancy in China between urban and rural hukou owners’ job and education opportunities. While the Chinese government has implemented substantial reforms to narrow this gap, people still seem to consider a Shanghai hukou more desirable in terms of finding a spouse.
Tips for visiting Shanghai Marriage Market
- Don’t take photos of the resume! Most parents won’t like it and will tell you off.
- Come here with someone who can read Mandarin (if you don’t know the language)! That will allow you to understand all the interesting stuff that people write on those resumes.
- And of course, it’s an outdoor market so remember to dress comfortably! Check the weather forecast beforehand to avoid rains as well.
Have you been to Shanghai Marriage Market? How did you think of this experience? Let me know by commenting below!
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10 thoughts on “Visit Shanghai Marriage Market | What you should know”
Really interesting. It’s kind of cool how open they are about what the offer and what they are seeking. Are there no photos of the kids they are attempting to match? I would have sorted expected them to consider looks as well. I used to live in Japan, and they have some similar traditions, but it more likely to go through a match maker, I have never heard of these kind of markets in Japan…
It’s also slightly mad that there are more women then men being advertised. I thought there were more men than women in China. What is going on with all the lads whos parents are not trying to get them to marry?
Did any of the lads of offer tempt your fancy? 😉
I was also surprised that there was no photo of the daughters & sons who were being offered. They only put something like 1.60 meters’ tall, slim body, elegant face, etc. on the “resumes”. I later learned that many parents didn’t have their kids’ permission to put them on this market. Perhaps that’s why they also refrain from showing their photos 🙂
There are matchmakers in China as well but I guess some people still prefer this way so that they can speak to the other parents directly.
And yeah there are way more men than women in China, but maybe the women’s parents are more eager to market their daughters since there’s still a common belief that women passing the age of 30 have very little chance of marrying well.
Ohhhh goodness, haha. I have enough trouble with my parents trying to set me up here in the states! I’m so glad I don’t live over there. 😛 (I’d be considered a “leftover” at this point so in that culture, there’d likely be extra desperation in trying to marry me off, haha.) I’m surprised there are no photos in the resumes!
This was such a fascinating read, thank you for sharing! I’m always so interested in these kinds of cultural and long-standing practices.
This was such a fascinating read, I’m always so interested in these kinds of cultural and long-standing practices. thank you for sharing this amazing article.
I could not imagine allowing my parents to find a marriage partner for me! Yikes.
Seems to take real commitment on the part of the parents as well. The question for me is, “How happy are these marriages?”
Wow, I had no idea about the marriage market, so this was very interesting to read. I would love to visit although I have to say that the whole idea seems very wrong. Then again, it’s part of their culture and I respect that. Thank you for sharing this!
Wow, this was such a fascinating article! It’s always so interesting to learn about the unique cultural traditions of other countries that are so different from my own.
I thought you were kidding when I saw the title – marriage market?! But I can see how it might really appeal to a lot of traditional families, and marriage ideals are so different in other parts of the world. Love the umbrella resumes!
Fun read! It’s interesting that a lot of them didn’t have their kids permission to do this. I would think that would be sort of embarrassing for the kids to find out about! I guess it still works though, if people are still using a marriage market today.