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Culture Insider: Chopsticks do's and don'ts | Updated: 2018-11-22 11:29
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Etiquette in using chopsticks

It is important to note chopsticks are used in many different parts of the world, in many different cultures. While the principles of chopstick etiquette are similar in many of these places, the finer points may differ from region to region, and there is no single standard for the use of chopsticks. Generally, chopsticks are not used to make noise, to draw attention, or to gesticulate.

1. Playing with chopsticks is considered bad manners and vulgar, just as playing with cutlery in a Western environment would be considered crass.

2. Chopsticks are not used to move bowls or plates.

3. Chopsticks are not used to toy with one's food or with dishes for sharing.

4. Chopsticks are not used to pierce food, save rare instances. Exceptions include tearing larger items apart such as vegetables and kimchi. In informal use, small, difficult-to-pick-up items such as cherry tomatoes or fish balls may be stabbed, but this use is frowned upon by traditionalists.

5. Chopsticks should not be left standing vertically in a bowl of rice or other food. Any stick-like object pointing upward resembles the incense sticks that some Asians use as offerings to deceased family members; certain funeral rites designate offerings of food to the dead using standing chopsticks.

6. It is poor etiquette to tap chopsticks on the edge of one's bowl, as beggars are believed to make this noise to attract attention.

7. Serving chopsticks (or "community-use chopsticks") are used to move food from a serving dish to one's bowl for hygienic purposes, rather than eating directly from serving dishes. These chopsticks are to be returned to the dishes after one has served him- or herself, and are often a different color from individuals' chopsticks.

8. Chopsticks should not be chewed on, or linger in one's mouth for too long.

The fashionable designed chopsticks [Photo provided to China Daily]

Chopsticks in modern times

Today, chopsticks serve many functions besides as tableware. For example, you can buy a pair of exquisite chopsticks as a gift for your friends and relatives. In Chinese, 'chopsticks' reads 'kuaizi', which means to have sons soon, so a newly-married couple will be very happy to accept chopsticks as their wedding gift. Skillful craftsmen paint beautiful scenery on chopsticks to make them like fine artwork. Many people love to collect these elegant utensils.

It has been said that using chopsticks improves one's memory, increases finger dexterity and can be useful in learning and improving skills such as Chinese character printing and brush painting. Many Asian superstitions revolve around chopsticks as well. For example, if you find an uneven pair of chopsticks at your table setting, it is believed you will miss the next train, boat or plane you are trying to catch. Also, dropping your chopsticks is an omen of bad luck.

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