Proverb – Nhân Duyên Tiền Định

Literal Translation: Marriage is predestined.
English Equivalent: A match made in heaven.

In Chinese mythology, the god of marriage and love is named Yue Lao. The mythology of Vietnam is often derived from Chinese myths, and the same god is referred to in Vietnamese as “Nguyệt Lão” or “ông Tơ bà Nguyệt.” Described as an old man who sits under the moon, he holds a book of marriage listings and red cords that bind the feet of predestined couples. Nothing can prevent these unions once the red cords are in place. Linked to this legend is the earthly tradition of matchmaking. In the past, matchmakers were labelled “ông Tơ bà Nguyệt,” but there was nothing divine about them. Historically, young men and women were forbidden to interact in order to protect their virtue. Matchmaking was necessary to find potential suitors so, in a way, they carried out the work of the gods.

Interestingly, this god of marriage and love can be found across cultures and as can the phrase “a match made in heaven.” Perhaps it is because there is nothing more absolute than a fated pairing decided upon by the gods, that “a match made in heaven” came to express a perfect match. But what does “a match made in heaven” really mean? People seldom realize how rare it is for two separate entities to be a flawless match for one another. For a match to be perfect, both halves must come together like a puzzle where the shortcomings of one are reconciled by the merits of the other. This expression can also be used to describe any partnership, even those outside of marriage.

Another variation of “Nhân duyên tiền định” is “Thiên duyên tiền định”.

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