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History of Chopsticks 

Chopsticks are two sticks used as eating utensils. They were first invented in China, and soon spread to other countries throughout Asia. They are smooth in texture and commonly made from bamboo, stainless steel and plastic. Some special types of chopsticks can be made out of gold or porcelain. 

Chopstick Etiquette 

Growing up in a westernised culture, we have customs and etiquette for eating at the table, e.g. putting your knife and fork together when you finish your meal. It is no different in these Asian countries. There are a number of “rules” around eating with chopsticks, and while the principles remain similar across the board, some countries have varying, more specific rules. 

China

  • It is considered inappropriate to tap chopsticks on the edge of your bowl because it attracts attention. 
  • Holding chopsticks the wrong way reflects badly on parents, because they have the responsibility to correctly teach their children to hold chopsticks. 
  • You should not spear food with chopsticks. If the food is too difficult to eat with chopsticks, a spoon should be used instead. 
  • It is common to allow elders to pick up their chopsticks and commence eating before anyone else. 
  • Digging or searching through food is considered inappropriate. It can be referred to as “digging ones grave” 
  • When you have finished a meal, resting chopsticks at the top of the bowl indicates this. Resting chopsticks on the side of the bowl means you are taking a break from eating. 

Japan

  • Chopsticks should never cross on a table because this symbolises death. 
  • Chopsticks should never be stuck vertically in rice, because this is done at a funeral. 
  • Chopsticks should be placed in a right-left direction with the tips pointing to the left
  • When being used in a formal setting, disposable chopsticks should be put into the wrapper when the meal is finished.

Thailand

  • It is impolite to make sounds with chopsticks
  • Chopsticks should not rest or be held pointing towards someone else, because pointing is considered disrespectful. 
  • Chopsticks should never be used for a bowl of rice

Each culture has its own set of customs and etiquettes and its important to make an effort to be respectful of this. When visiting other countries, you should be culturally aware!