Connecting families…with cuttlefish

Fish as gift? Yes, when it’s culturally relevent. No, when it involves dumping a slimy, stinky flounder wrapped in newspaper on my previously clean kitchen table. Personally, I’d be delighted to receive Yuinou if I was the mother of a newly engaged lady.

You’re looking at Yuinou, gifts that traditionally mark an agreed upon engagement in Japan. I first saw them at Wedded Bliss, The Marriage of Art and Ceremony, a traveling exhibit currently at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Yuinou is exchanged for the various purposes. First of all, people can confirm that the engagement is concluded. At the same time, they pray for the conclusion of marriage by doing the ceremony. The engagement will be official through Yuinou. Secondly, a bridegroom side does it to express their gratitude to a bride side, because a bride is considered to be a member of bridegroom side after a marriage. The gratitude is against marrying a girl whom their parents have brought up with tender care.

The contents of Yuinou are important in their ceremonial significance — cuttlefish signifies happiness, seaweed signifies fertility, a fan signifies good fortune, and animal art signifying all sorts of nice things — but the appeal in my eyes is the beautiful packaging.

The examples I saw at the PEM were gorgeous, made as they were of vividly hued bamboo, balsa wood, foil, glass, and braided paper cord. The packaging is so artistically rendered that some newlyweds display the Yuinou in their homes after the wedding.

However, the once widespread and varied Yuino ceremony is being toned down by couples who would rather their parents spent the money they might spend on Yuinou on monetary gifts or contributions to the price of the wedding. That makes a lot of sense to me, but I do hope that the practice sticks around. It seems like such a nice way to bring families together and commemorate the blending of two families.

CONGRATS, JSTAR! Jstar, who suggested that I call my next book iDon’t: the 12,000,000 most common wedding planning mistakes has won a free autographed copy of iDo. Keep your eyes open for future minicontents because I plan to give away at least one copy of the book each month for a year!

One Response to “Connecting families…with cuttlefish”

  1. Twistie says:

    Congrats, JStar! Your win is well deserved.

    I wonder how my mother-in-law would have reacted if I’d attempted the Yuino ceremony. She might well have appreciated some cuttlefish.