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3 Chinese table manners that are important to know!

Part of the LingoAce vision is to incorporate elements of Chinese culture into the learning journey of our children. We believe that by doing so, the experience of one’s learning experience will be more fulfilling. To that end, we seek to explore some Chinese table manners that are important to know!

1. Say greetings before eating

The first mannerism we will discuss is the habit of allowing the elders and the dining table to have their meals first. This is a common way to show our respect and gratitude for our parents/grandparents by allowing them to first take their seats and be the first to start the meal. Please do not be the one to rush and take that juicy chicken drumstick that you have been eyeing, but instead allow the elders to have the first pick. In local Chinese culture, we tend to address the elders at the dinner table by saying 吃饭. So if grandma is at the table, please remember to say 婆婆/奶奶,吃饭, before starting to eat!

2. Let others have the last piece

A term that most locals will understand 歹势 (Paiseh: A Hokkien way of saying something is embarrassing). This Chinese table manner refers to the habit of considering the other parties at the dining table before taking the last piece of that dish for yourself. I am sure we have all been there before, whether it’s the last piece of tofu, pork or even that delicious crab claw. We all are embarrassed to take it for ourselves. It is never wrong to do it, but it is good manners to others is to ask others at the table if they would like it first. Put others above yourself and you will never go wrong.

3. Place chopsticks mindfully

Another fundamental skill in Chinese culture is using chopsticks. Many might even argue that the use of chopsticks may be a dying trait especially in younger children, so parents make sure to teach your children the proper ways and mannerisms around the use of chopsticks. There are a whole plethora of tips and tricks around this tool, but the one we want to highlight here is the placement of the chopsticks. Never, NEVER, place your chopsticks vertically into your bowl of rice. The act resembles the placement of joss sticks at an alter, and is considered rude or even taboo especially to the elders. Instead, rest your chopsticks across your dish/bowl, or place them on the table beside your bowl. Remember not to do this and be mindful of Chinese table manners.

That’s it for today! Share these with your children. What are some of the Chinese table manners that you practice at home? Are there any that you think more people should know about? Let us know in the comments down below, or share them on our LingoAce Facebook page! Till next time.

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At LingoAce, we believe in providing every child a meaningful and memorable experience as they learn because learning Chinese is more than just learning the language. Find out more about how we can be fun and effective in learning the Mandarin Chinese language.

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