The Ancient Marriage God and His Red Ribbon of Destiny

Laura Hatton, Contributing Writer

There is an ancient saying in China, “A marriage of thousands of miles linked by a thread.”Yue Lao (the Old Man under the Moon, 月下老人) was an immortal elder who would sometimes appear by moonlight with a sublime task to fulfill. He had a book of fate in which couples who were to be together had their names inscribed.Yue’s Lao job was to bind them together with a red silk thread. 

This Valentine’s Day we are glad to bring you this story of one such couple from ancient China. You could say it’s the tale of how a proud and brash young man learned that destiny was not to be trifled with.

Wei Gu was a young boy who lived during the Tang Dynasty. One night he happened to notice an old man who was sitting alone and reading by moonlight. Wei Gu asked him what he was doing and the old man, Yue Lao, explained his divine mission. Wei Gu felt an arrogant doubt, but they walked together, side by side, until they came to the market. There, an old blind woman passed by with a three-year old baby girl in her arms. Yue Lao pointed to the child and claimed that she was Wei Gu’s future wife.

Wei Gu was enraged. He refused to believe that he was fated to marry the child of a blind woman, and he still did not believe that the old man was a god. He asked a servant to strike the little child and he left the marketplace.

Fourteen years later, Wei Gu was ready to marry. He made a good match with the daughter of a governor, but could not understand why the young lady had not been promised to anyone before. The governor explained that his daughter was a beautiful girl but her prospects had been diminished by an injury. She walked with a limp and had a scar on her back.

When Wei Gu asked what had caused these injuries, he learned that his future bride had been attacked by an unknown man in the marketplace when she was just three years old.

Wei Gu recalled the events of that moonlit night long ago with a shock, and one may hope that he regretted his wickedness. He married the girl that Yue Lao had foretold for him and behaved as a dutiful husband. They had three children together, two sons and a daughter. And Wei Gu had become a believer in immortal destiny: the old man in the moonlight long ago truly had been the god of marriage. People’s fates, Wei Gu realized, had been set long before and watched over by divine beings. From that time to the end of their path together, Wei Gu was humbled; he and his wife cherished their predestined marriage and lived blessed lives.



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