Chopsticks manner: Three pieces long and two pieces short


I was helping prepare the dining table someday. The informant told me don’t put the chopsticks uneven in length

When Chinese people are having dinner, puting the chopsticks uneven in length means bad luck. We called it “三长两短/ three pieces long and two pieces short.” It represented “death”. Chinese people believe when some one died, he/her will be put into a coffin. When the body is in the coffin and the cover is not closed yet, it is called “三长两短”. Therefore, it is ominous to put chopsticks in this way.

Background information:

The infotmant is my mother and she was helping me setting up the dining table. She learned the dining table manner from her parents when she was young and she just felt like I shoud inhet it too.


This piece was collected during a casual conversation between the informant and me before dinner.


I think it is kind of weird that people can connect anything from the table to death. But it is also interesting. This may mean that Chinese people really value meals with family.