Don’t stick your chopsticks into your rice.
I was having dinner with my family back in my father’s home town when I was younger. When we are watiting for other family members to be seated, my younger cousin casually sticked his chopsticks into his bowl of rice. My father stopped him. My father told me that it is not right to stick your chopsticks into rice because people only do that when they are worshipping ancestors or in front of a grave. Doing so on a dinner table is extremely rude to others and also brings bad luck to people. Basically, you would only stick a pair of chopsticks into rice in front of dead people.
The story was told on a dinner table to stop my counsin’s impolite behavior. It happened during a family dinner with other members in my family.
There are a lot of different manners you are supposed to follow on a Chinese dinner table. I shared the same experience as sticking my chopsticks into rice and got shouted at by my parents when I was younger. A kid may just do it because of fun or childish curiousness, grown-up adults should tell them not to do so by explaining the culture to them gentally.
In Chinese lunar calender, there is the twelve-year cycle represented by twelve animals as zodiac. When it is the same zodiac as the year you are born, you are supposed to wear red. No matter it is underwear, socks, or any clothes, you should always have a piece of red on your body. It would bless you a smooth year of fate.
2020 is the year of mouse, which is my mother’s zodiac. One day we are changing cloth in the room, I saw her wearing a red underwear which is not her style. So I asked her about it and she told me this custom of wearing red in the year of fate. She also said she heard it from her parents and apprantly it is a wide spread agreement in Chinese society. She said I also wore red when I was 12 but I don’t remember.
This piece was collected quickly through a daily talk with my mother when we are in the middle of doing something else.
Chinese people have a positive belief of the color red. It represents good luck and can protect us from bad things. I think there may not be any scientific proof behind this color belief today, but there might be some relation in the past. For example, maybe red helps people to discover each other in dangerous situation. Or maybe red makes people feel warm. Anyway, I am always glad to see my mom wear something colorful.
To celebrate one’s birthday in China, one should eat noodles instead of cakes. And one has to finish the noodles in his/her bowl.
Birthday cake is a western custom. Originally in China, people celebrate their birthday by eating noodles. A real bowl of birthday noodles should formed by one single piece of noodle. But nowadays the standard is loose, any noodles can work.
When I was in quarantined in my dorm in Los Angeles, I happened to celebrate my 20th birthday alone. My grandma called me and told me don’t forget to cook myself some noodles. I asked her to explain this custom again and she did. But she couldn’t remember how she heard it. It is just so widely performed that everyone seems to know it by nature.
My grandma called me and mentioned this custom, I asked her for more information for this collection.
I actually want to have a bowl of real Birthday noodles someday.
Me: I want a new pair of board shoes.
Father: Sure, we can go shopping after the Qingming festival.
Me: You mean after tomorrow? Why not tomorrow?
Father: You don’t buy shoes(鞋xie) on Qingming because it brought bad luck (邪xie).
Me：It sounds like a terrible joke.
Father: I mean it.
My father used to go tomb weeping with my grandparents on Qingming. But none of them went because of the pandemic. Instead, we were talking about what to do for the short break (It’s a official holiday). He told me he heard this from his father and I should remember not to buy shoes on Qingming as well.
I collected this piece when I was casually talk to my father through phone call.
Homophonic words sounds like joke to me at these days. But in the past, people really believed those words with the same pronouce could bring them bad luck. My father still believe in it. I don’t know if I should follow that but I will remember this weird taboo.
Original text: 夏が終わった
Translated text: The summer ends.
The informant told me that in Japanese, words sometimes have more meanings than they seem to have. For example, “summer” is not only a season. It represented the best time of love. “Summer” is when you are fervently love someone but haven’t decided to tell him/her. It’s like the beautiful relationship between highschoolers: they are in love, but too young to say it out bravely. When “the summer ends”, it means someone decided to give up on a relationship, or a fruitless love.
More generally, 夏が終わった also means the best period of one’s time has ends. It’s like the end of teenage.
The informant is a student from China studying abroad in Japan. She saw the hashtag 夏が終わった on twitter. People do not only post about season under it, but also use it to descrive something more emotional. She shared this with me through social media chat box.
I collected this piece through a casual interview with my informant in social media chat box.
It’s a really beautiful to say something inside someone ends. I like how Eastern Asian culture tends to have more connotation in their language.