Singaporebrides | Weddings 101

April 2015

The Beautiful History Behind Chinese Traditional Wedding Pastries, Xi Bing

Chinese traditional pastries meant for weddings, otherwise known 喜饼, are one of the items given to the bride’s family during the Guo Da Li ceremony. While these traditional pastries were common and popular during our parents and grandparents’ time, it is a different story today.

Chinese traditional pastries are a cultural treat that the younger generation may not familiar with and are likely to be at a lost when it comes to finding places that still offer these traditional pastries for their wedding needs. To re-introduce and educate our modern couples on this traditional treat, we present a brief history of Chinese traditional pastries and the role it plays in a Chinese wedding. We’ve also included a list of shops known for selling these pastries for weddings to help you along with your Guo Da Li needs.

What are Chinese Traditional Wedding Pastries

Traditional Pastries for Cantonese weddings, 广东四色饼, from Gin Thye Cake Maker

Chinese traditional pastries comes in many shapes, sizes, taste and form. The word “pastry” is used here in a generic sense, referring to the many varieties of this Chinese traditional treat. They can be referred to as a biscuit (饼 or 酥) or a cake (糕), and can be sweet or savoury, baked or steamed.

Chinese traditional pastries are usually stuffed with lotus, red or green bean paste and nuts, and can be used for a variety of occasions other than weddings. Traditional motifs such as the characters 囍 (double happiness) or 福 (luck) are printed on the pastries to indicate which occasion they are for. When used for weddings, these pastries are then known as 喜饼, or Xi Bing. There are many types of xi bing, such as Gong Tang (贡糖), Ruan Tang (软糖),  Peanut Brittle (花生糖), Long Feng Bing (龙凤饼) and Sweet Bean Paste (豆沙饼). Which xi bing you need for your Guo Da Li depends on your bride’s family dialect group. If you’re unsure, you can always seek advice from the shop and they will help you.

The Significance Behind Xi Bing (喜饼)

Image cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Alpha

Xi Bings are one of the items given to the bride’s family during the Guo Da Li ceremony. More than just a set of pastries to be given away, it is symbolic of the groom’s gratitude to the bride’s parents for having raised and taken care of her over the years and serves as an announcement of the couple’s marriage. It is given to the bride’s relatives and friends to share and spread the joy of the two families’ union and the couple’s upcoming nuptials.

How many boxes of xi bing you need depends on the number of people you intend to gift it to. Usually, you include your relatives, your parents’ friends and colleagues, your friends and colleagues, and the number of boxes you intend to return to the groom during the Hui Li into the count. Try to order a few boxes more than what you need to ensure that everyone gets a box, just in case you left someone out during your counting.

When To Order and Deliver Xi Bing (喜饼)

Flavour Favours’s Petite

Start ordering your xi bing about 3 months before your Guo Da Li ceremony to allow the baker sufficient time to prepare the amount of xi bing you need and to accommodate any unforeseen delays. Check on your order again 3 weeks before your ceremony to ensure that everything is prepared and finalise collection details.

Most couples choose to deliver the boxes of xi bing to the bride’s relatives on the day of the Guo Da Li ceremony, or the day after. Some couples, however, opt to gift them as wedding favours to be given out to their guests on their wedding day, like Flavour Favours’s Petite boxes.

A Xi Bing (喜饼) Taboo

As tempted as you may be, sinking your teeth into a piece (or more) of xi bing is probably not a good idea. There is a saying that if a bride consume any of the xi bing used for the Guo Da Li ceremony, it is equivalent to eating away at her own happiness. As a result of biting off the rounded edges of a xi bing, she will not have a fulfilling (圓滿) marriage. Supposedly, it is also symbolic of her living off her husband and family, which may lead to feelings of resentment and discord in the family. While these sayings may not have any real proof to them, there is no harm in abiding by them, even if you aren’t a superstitious bride. Just buy some home for your own consumption when you are shopping for xi bing if you really feel like eating some!

Where To Get Xi Bing (喜饼)

Xi Bing from Tan Hock Seng, by Flavour Favours. Check out their website to see their adorable nostalgic packaging for the xi bing

North-East

1. Thye Lee Confectionery
108 Hougang Avenue 1, Singapore 530108
Contact: +65 6288 9514

2. Neo Kian Guan Confectionery
Blk 7 Hougang Ave 3 #01-50 Singapore 530007
Contact: 6382 4352
Opening Hours: (Mon-Sat) 8am-6pm; Sundays closed.

South

3. Flavour Favours
21B Kreta Ayer Road Singapore 088991
Contact: 65 9105 6862
Email: youneedus@ffavours.com

4. Tan Hock Seng Cake Shop
86 Telok Ayer Street #01-01 (Round the corner of Far East Square/China Square Central)
Contact: +65 6533 1798

5. Tong Heng Pastries
285 South Bridge Road Singapore 058833
Contact: 62233549
Email: info@tonghengpastries.com

6. Tai Thong Cake Shop
35 Mosque Street, Singapore 059513
Contact: 6223 2905

7. Poh Guan Bakery
#01-57 Hong Lim Complex, 531 Upper Cross Street, 050531
Contact: 6534 0136

West

8. Ng Lee Kim Confectionery
4 Chun Tin Road, Singapore 599591
Contact: 6466 3515

9. Gin Thye Cake Maker
Located island-wide with 6 outlets in Bedok, Kallang, Bishan, Ang Mo Kio, Sembawang and Bukit Batok. Please http://ginthye.com/ for outlet details.
Contact (Sembawang outlet): 6257 1566

Other Alternatives

Wedding cake set from Pine Garden’s Cake’s Facebook / cropped from original

If you decide to gift Western cakes instead of the traditional Chinese wedding cakes, that’s perfectly fine as well. While some of these places specialise in Western cake sets for Guo Da Li ceremony, you could also choose to get your Guo Da Li cakes from any bakery of your choice.

North

1. Pine Garden’s Cake
529 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, #01-2369, Singapore (560529)
Contact: 64595507
Email: enquiries@pgcake.com

East

2. Kyo Cake House
82 Marine Parade Central #01-616 Singapore (440082)
Contact: (65) 6564 4060
Email: enquiry@kyo.com.sg

3. Sweetest Moments
28 Tai Seng Street #03-01, Sakae Building S534106 (use lift lobby 2)
Contact: 6286 2553
Email: enquiries@sweetestmoments.com.sg

4. Bengawan Solo
Located island-wide. Please visit www.bengawansolo.com.sg for outlet details.

West

5. Swee Heng
Head office: 24 Senoko Crescent, Singapore (758276)
Located island-wide. Please visit http://sweeheng.sg/ for outlet details.
Contact: 67550300

6. Choz Confectionary
18 Toh Yi Drive, #01-105, Singapore (590018)
Contact: 62352281

7. Gin Thye Cake
Located island-wide with 6 outlets in Bedok, Kallang, Bishan, Ang Mo Kio, Sembawang and Bukit Batok. Please http://ginthye.com/ for outlet details.
Contact (Sembawang outlet): 6257 1566

Read what you need to know about the Chinese betrothal ceremony, Guo Da Li to learn what you need to do for your betrothal ceremony!


Credits: Feature Image taken from Tong Heng’s Facebook / cropped from original