It is expected that the use of chopsticks started around 4000 to 5000 years ago in China. The first version of chopsticks was made from branches and used for cooking because they were able to withstand the temperature of boiling water or hot oil.
As for the year of AD 500-400, chopsticks began to be used as part of the eating utensils.
The arrival of chopsticks in Asian countries
A lot of stories explain the origin of the chopsticks. Many people think that chopsticks are inspired by the image of birds having long beaks for picking up fish, nuts and small fruits.
Meanwhile, other practical reasons were given. For example, the population growth makes a lot of raw materials, especially food, increasingly become scarce. As a result, people cut the food into small pieces so that the food can be cooked faster and saved more.
The small pieces of food made kitchen knives become obsolete. At that time, chopsticks became a simple and convenient tool because they can be easily made from the cheap materials. Since then, chopsticks came into existence.
The role of knives on the dining table was gradually replaced partly due to the influence of Confucianism. As a vegetarian, Confucius said that the use of a knife was not appropriate for a meal. In his opinion, a respectable and upright man should stay away from the slaughterhouse and the kitchen.
In Asian countries, the main food is rice. Small and short grains are very sticky to form lumps of rice. When they stick together, the use of chopsticks is suitable.
On the other hand, in Western countries, the people here usually eat the grains that are longer and processed; therefore, they become smooth or are in powder form. At that time, it is almost impossible to eat with chopsticks.
Within a century, chopsticks migrated to other Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea and Vietnam. Although the material for making chopsticks or the way of holding chopsticks are different in each country, chopsticks are still considered to be the soul of Asian meals.
Interesting things about eating by chopsticks
- Relics from the Kim dynasty in China are typical examples of Chinese writings and chopsticks. Bronze chopsticks were found in the tombs of this dynasty.
- Different from the Japanese people’s chopsticks, Chinese traditional chopsticks are made of wood or bamboo that were not smoothed.
- The way to use chopsticks properly and politely is one of the most important factors in the culture of Asian countries. Each country has its own concept of the culture of using chopsticks.
The use of chopsticks in China
In traditional Chinese culture, it will be impolite if you
- Skewer the food with chopsticks
- Use chopsticks to scratch to select food. This action is considered impolite and uncultured. Chinese people usually compare it to digging graves.
- Produce the sound by beating the bowl by chopsticks. You are advised not to do this unless you want other people to think that you are a beggar trying to draw the attention to take the pity from passersby.
- Children are also required to learn how to properly hold the chopsticks. The way of holding the chopsticks shows how the parents teach their children.
The use of chopsticks in Japan
If you are in Japan, keep in mind that the following behaviors will be seen as uncultured ones:
- Cross two chopsticks on the table
- Put the chopsticks into your bowl of rice in the vertical direction. This is almost regarded as a taboo in the Japanese meal. The reason is that Japanese people just do that in the funeral
- Pick up food to invite other people with your own chopsticks
The use of chopsticks in Vietnam
In Vietnam, you will be considered to be rude if you
- Put two chopsticks in the shape of V after finishing the meal. Because this predicts the arrival of bad things.
- Pick up food and eat right away. Instead, you should put the food in your bowl first, then eat it.
- Keep your chopsticks in your mouth while choosing food.
Hopefully, with the article, you will attain more knowledge about the history and culture of eating with chopsticks in Asian countries so that under all circumstances, you can politely eat with chopsticks in Asian meals.