Jasmine Flowers Can’t Feed an Ox

Mo Li Hua Bu Wei Lao Niu
Jasmine flowers don’t feed an old ox

C is an older Chinese immigrant who migrated to the US over 20 years ago. She still has very close contact with relatives in China and regularly participates in Chinese cultural practices.

Context: I interviewed C about Chinese cultural customs and beliefs.

This one is very interesting because it is a proverb often said to children. Its meaning is that you shouldn’t be doing something inefficiently. Jasmine flowers are special and are more expensive per pound that what ox normally eat, grass. And because ox eat a lot of grass in one day, it is just not a good idea to spend your money feeding an ox jasmine flowers. Another alternative, more modern, meaning could be to not eat junk food. Chips and other junk foods do not fill up a person as much as a proper meal. Replacing a normal meal with junk food is just a waste of money because it will not last.