Author Archives: Melissa Wang

Longevity Noodles

“Every birthday celebration, no matter where, and no matter the age, we always ate noodles to signify a long life.”

The informant was born in Taipei, and grew up in Shanghai.

After thoughts: Longevity is one of the most respected ideals in Chinese culture, and reflects Taoism philosophy. Longevity is most commonly associated with birthdays, and noodles became the food metaphor because it;s long and continuous in shape. It’s important to not break off the noodle you are eating, since the longer it is, the longer it suggests your life will be. Also, cutting the noodles is considered unlucky and equivalent to cutting your own life. Longevity noodles symbolizes a long and healthy life.

Baby Surrounded by Symbolic Items

“There’s a tradition in China for a baby’s first birthday. The baby is surrounded by items such as a stethoscope, a spatula, a book, money, a tape measure, etc…” The baby is then encouraged to choose one of the items. Whatever item the child picks up would symbolize his/her future. So if the child chooses a spatula, then it means that he/she will be a chef.”

The informant was born in Taipei, and grew up in Shanghai.

After thoughts: Many other cultures have similar traditions. Armenian parents celebrate this ceremony called Agra Hadig. Similarly, Dol is a Korean tradition that celebrate the first birthday of a baby and blesses the child with a prosperous future. In the past, death rates for children were high, so this was an important milestone for the whole family and wishes a long life and fortune for the baby.

Families in China


Context: Whenever my sister and I used to fight, my dad would always tell us that “the boy must let the girl, but the older one must let the younger one.” So in the end, we shouldn’t actually be fighting at all.”

After thoughts: Similar to China’s traditions and beliefs about familial roles, the man is viewed as the head of the household and should be respected. However, the elders of the families are also well respected.


“Every rose has it’s thorn”

Interviewee: My grandmother used to say this to me. Not everything beautiful is perfect and everything that is beautiful has its flaws. Sometimes the most beautiful.”

The informant is Persian. A similar proverb, believed to be from Persia, says “he who wants a rose must respect the thorn.” Here the idea of imperfection is expressed and teaches people to love and respect one another despite individual differences and flaws.