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Taboos When Using Chopsticks

Chopsticks to some extent symbolize Chinese culture and many foreign businessmen are to show the respect to Chinese chopstick by actively using chopsticks at table. But they do not know there are a lot rules and taboos concerning chopsticks using. If you want your respect and regards to traditional Chinese cultured well presented, CBM remind you following taboos about chopsticks that should be kept in mind not to offend when eating with your Chinese friends.

l        Locate your chopsticks uneven in length

No matter before eating or when you stop to speak, you should evenly locate your chopsticks. People will be reminded of death if chopsticks are located unevenly, namely, some protrude out. The association comes from that the shape the chopsticks located is similar to the traditional Chinese coffin because the board makes up the coffin is unevenly located.

l        Hold chopsticks with forefinger stick out

The correct way to hold chopsticks is to hold one end of the chopsticks with your thumb and forefinger and other three fingers to fix the chopsticks. If you forefinger sticks out when eating, people around you will feel be insulted because the gesture is similar to when Chinese are scolding or insulting others. Another gesture will create some impression if one points other with his chopsticks.

l        Knock bowl with chopsticks

In every Chinese family, if the child knocks the bowl with his chopsticks, he will be strictly scolded because the gesture is “specialized” for beggar when they are begging for food. If some one does this at table, he will be deeply despised.

l        Insert chopsticks into the dishes

Some conservative Chinese may even drive you away if you insert your chopsticks into the dishes, the gesture convey the same meaning as erecting middle finger in western culture.

l        Pass the bowl with chopsticks inserted in

On some occasions, people would like to save trouble by inserting the chopsticks in the rice so that to pass the bowl and the chopsticks together. But in China, the behavior may be recognized as cursing the person who accepts your bowl to death because it is similar to incenses in censer when Chinese are memorizing their dead ancestors.

l        Cross chopsticks at table

Cross chopsticks at table may indicate the people eating with you that you totally disagree with them or think them are totally wrong. In China, when a teacher finds a mistake in student’s exercise, he will write a red cross on it to remind the student his mistake. So later, cross in China has been generally regarded as either disapproval or disagreement.

l        Drop chopsticks on the ground

Chinese believe that there are fairies live above us and the dead spirits below us. So drop chopsticks on the table, the host will be annoyed because he thinks his dead ancestors have been disturbed, which for filial Chinese is a kind of disrespect and even defiance. So when you are invited to a Chinese family to have dinner, be careful not let your chopsticks drop down. If the mistake has been carelessly made, you should apologize instantly.

The above are some general taboos one should not offend. Some families even have their special customs at table, so the wise choice for you is to watch the host and follow him.

Posted in Chinese Culture. Tagged with , , , .

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