The Hair Combing Ceremony (梳头) Guide You'll Ever Need For Your Wedding
Singaporebrides | Weddings 101

July 2020

The Only Hair Combing Ceremony (梳头) Guide You’ll Ever Need For Your Wedding

This ancient coming-of-age ceremony is one that you’ll want to ace for your wedding. Learn its significance and how you should prepare for yours.

There are many Chinese wedding traditions that couples are expected to practice for their wedding, but the hair combing ceremony, also known as 梳头, is an important one that should not be skipped no matter the reason. This meaningful age-old wedding tradition represents the bride and groom’s transition into adulthood as they leave their families and start one of their own.

To help you better understand the significance of the hair combing ceremony and what you need to prepare for it, we’ve put together an easy guide on the essentials of the hair combing ceremony.

What is The Hair Combing Ceremony (梳头)

Linette and Joshua’s Autumn-Inspired Bohemian Wedding at Hotel Fort Canning by Androidsinboots

The hair combing ceremony is a short but meaningful tradition that symbolises the coming-of-age of the bride and groom as they prepare to marry. It takes place at the couple’s respective homes and is carried out by one or both parents who will recite this ancient litany of Chinese blessings as they comb through their hair four times:

一梳梳到尾,
(May your marriage last a lifetime)
二梳百年好合,
(May you be blessed with a happy and harmonious marriage until old age)
三梳子孙满堂,
(May you be blessed with an abundance of children and grandchildren)
四梳白发齐眉。
(May you be blessed with longevity)

If one or both parents are not around, then a lady with good fortune, usually someone who is blissfully married with a surviving husband, children and grandchildren, will undertake the ceremony. At the end of the ceremony, the couple will eat a bowl of glutinous rice balls as a symbol of togetherness.

When Does The Hair Combing Ceremony Take Place

Wei Ying and Alan’s Personalised and Unique Wedding at PARKROYAL on Beach Road by The Beautiful Moment Photography

Traditionally, an auspicious time will be chosen for the ceremony, usually on the eve of the wedding, but the actual timing depends on the couple’s dialect group. Some dialect groups require the couple to conduct the ceremony simultaneously at midnight on the eve of the wedding, while others dictate that the bride should start hers at least an hour after the groom’s, or on the morning of the wedding.

What Items Do You Need For The Hair Combing Ceremony

Kyra and James’s Beautiful Garden Wedding at Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa by Samantha from Bittersweet Photography

Besides the obvious comb, a number of items are required for the hair combing ceremony:

  • A pair of dragon and phoenix candles
  • A pair of pointed comb, mirror, red string and ruler (for the Groom)
  • A pair of round comb, mirror, red string, ruler and sewing kit (for the Bride)
  • A set of Thuja leaves (扁栢)
  • A plate of Lian Zi, Red Dates and Dried Longans

These items each represent an auspicious blessing for the newlyweds and their future. With the exception of the Thuja leaves, all of these items can be bought at any Guo Da Li shops. Most shops will already have the items nicely packed as a set, so all you have to do is to tell them you need two sets of hair combing items for yourself and your groom. Thuja leaves can be found at market florists and at Far East Flora.

How To Prepare For The Hair Combing Ceremony

Ariel and Johan’s Gorgeous Industrial Wedding at The Ahava by Andri Tei Photography

To prepare for the hair combing ceremony, the couple have to bathe with water infused with pomelo or pomegranate leaves, as these are believed to cleanse the body and ward off evil spirits. After their shower, they should dress in a new set of undergarments and pajamas, and wear a new pair of bedroom slippers.

They should be seated in front of a table facing an open window. On it, the pair of dragon phoenix candles should be be lit and placed on either ends of the table. The rest of the hair combing necessities should be laid out in the middle of the table. Fruits and joss sticks for religious purposes can also be placed on the table along with the other items.

One or both their parents, or a lady of good fortune, will recite the litany of blessings as they comb their hair four times. Then, the ceremony ends with the couple consuming a bowl of glutinous rice balls as a symbol of togetherness and a perfect, round marriage.

Hair Combing Ceremony Exceptions/Taboos

Tina and Nick’s Peach and Gold Marquee Wedding with Giant Paper Flowers by Androidsinboots

While the hair combing ceremony is indeed an important Chinese wedding tradition, some couples and their parents choose to leave it out of the wedding, and that’s perfectly fine. However, if the bride chooses to carry on with the ceremony, then the groom must follow suit.

Brides who are forgoing the hair combing ceremony should still purchase the necessities and display the items on her dresser for a successful marriage. These items can be kept after a week but they must never be given away or passed on to anyone else except her daughter.

If the hair combing ceremony is conducted at night, the couple must wait until the dragon and phoenix candles burn out before they go to bed. They are also advised to keep the Thuja leaves and red string used in the ceremony in a red packet and place it under their pillows for a month before discarding it.

Learn about the other Chinese wedding traditions that are still practiced in weddings today.


Credit: Feature Image from Zhuoqun and Hendrian’s Intimate Clifftop Wedding in Bali by Donny from Axioo.

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