Looking to take a stroll in the park and maybe find your future husband or wife? Well, just look for the umbrellas. Yes, those umbrellas you see are not there to protect you from one of Shanghai’s epic downpours, rather they are there to guide you to true love. Welcome to the Marriage Market of People’s Park, where the umbrellas come with Tinder profiles and future in-laws waiting to meet you.
The Marriage Market located in People’s Park is not really on Shanghai’s tourist board’s list of things to see, however it’s becoming more well known for those who like to see quirky off-the-beaten track sights. The Marriage Market, or as I like to call it – “Chinese Tinder” – is held in People’s Park every Saturday and Sunday from 12pm to 5pm.
Although I had lived in Shanghai for nearly a year before I ever heard of the marriage market, another teacher cued me in. As an adventuress, I had to take a stroll through the marriage market, even though I wasn’t really in the market for a husband. I went on a Sunday just as the Marriage Market was winding down. It was easy to find as a line of umbrellas and Chinese moms were just beckoning onlookers to check out their umbrellas.
Attached to the umbrellas are advertisements listing stats with everything from age, height (very important to the Chinese), Chinese zodiac signs, etc. Parent’s exchange information with other parents and interested on-lookers who are interested in making a match. Most of the parents are advertising their children’s stats and suitability as a marriage partner without their knowledge or consent.
Like most of the world, marriage trends in China are changing as many women are choosing to focus on their careers and are putting off marriage. Also, since China has a higher population of men than women, the gender disparity has created a gap in the marriage market as there are more grooms than brides, meaning brides can be pickier about who they choose. It also means grooms have to step their game up in order to secure a bride in this brutal marriage market. Chinese mothers and fathers are doing their part at the Marriage Market to ensure their children find suitable partners.
While I didn’t find a husband and no Chinese mothers beckoned me to take down their son’s WeChat information, I did get an interesting glimpse into China and its marriage market.