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Home > Facts > Tradition & Customs > The Etiquette of Chinese Banquet

The Etiquette of Chinese Banquet

Chinese banquet etiquette is always attended for some very formal occasions such as celebration, ceremony, elder birthday party and more. Although it is not required for daily meals, you are supposed to learn some about china banquet etiquette when you have a chance to attend the occasions during China travel.

How to Sit at Dinner
The host and chief guest sit on opposite sides of the table, facing each other, the chief guest is seated at the head of the room, facing the door; the host with his or her back to the door. In most restaurant arrangements, the host is also closest to the door thus in a better position to give orders to the waiters as they come and go.

Other guests are seated to the left and right of the chief guest in descending order of rank or importance. This means that the two lowest traning members in the party may end up seated to the immediate right and left of the host. This arrangement is just opposite of what Westerners might expect.

Attention of Using Chopsticks
Never stick your chopsticks upright in the rice bowl, lay them on your dish instead. Otherwise, it is deemed extremely impolite to the host and seniors present. The reason for this is that when somebody dies, the shrine to them contains a bowl of sand or rice with two sticks of incense stuck upright in it. So if you stick your chopsticks in the rice bowl, it looks like the shrine and is equivalent to wishing death upon a person at the table.

How to Place Chopsticks
The truth of using chopsticks is holding one chopstick in place while pivoting the other one to pick up a morsel. How to position the chopsticks is the course you have to learn. First, place the first chopstick so that thicker part rests at the base of your thumb and the thinner part rests on the lower side of your middle firmly trapped in place. At least two or three inches of chopstick of the thinner end should extend beyond your fingertip. Next, position the other chopstick so that it is held against the side of your index finger and by the end of your thumb. Check whether the ends of the chopsticks are even. If not, then tap the thinner parts on the plate to make them even.

The Order of Dishes
For meat and vegetable dishes, there are cold dishes and hot dishes. Normally cold dishes are the main course; usually there are even numbers of hot dishes, 4, 6 or 8. Sometimes there could be 16 0r 32 dishes. The most sumptuous feast -  Man Han Fest, has as Many as 108 dishes. Soup is usually the last dish. In some places, however, fish (the Chinese word for fish is yu, which is a homonym of surplus) is the last dish, which symbolizes that there will always be a surplus of food for people to eat.

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