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Chinese Chopsticks


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. It is impolite to spear food with a chopstick, unless a food is difficult to handle, such as fish balls. It is considered poor etiquette to point rested chopsticks towards others seated at the table. Holding chopsticks incorrectly will reflect badly on your parents, who are responsible for teaching their children how to use them. 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.

Hong Kong people’s Etiquette

The eldest (most respected) member of the family takes his/her chopsticks first. Chopsticks are not to be used backwards. Resting chopsticks at the top of the bowl mean "I've finished". Resting chopsticks on the chopstick stands means "I'd like to continue but am taking a break."

Taiwan people’s Etiquette

Food should not be transferred between chopsticks. Food in need of transportation should be placed onto the recipient's plate or on a new plate for collection. Using chopsticks like a knife and fork to cut soft foods into smaller portions for children is widely accepted. Chopsticks should not be rested on the table, but rather on a provided chopstick rest or lie across the rice bowl in a sideways fashion. Alternatively, they can be placed flat on the bowl when finished. Chopsticks should not be chewed on, or linger in one's mouth for too long. Today, chopsticks serve many functions besides 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 painted beautiful scenery on chopsticks to make them like fine artworks. Many people love to collect these beautiful chopsticks as their treasures.

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 that you will miss the next train, boat or plane you are trying to catch. Also, dropping your chopsticks is an omen of bad luck.

Editor: Feng Hui and Zhang Min

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