Whether you are joining a Chinese family for a formal dinner during your trip to China or inviting your Chinese colleagues over a business lunch, there are several dining etiquette rules you should understand and follow.
Every culture has its unique dining etiquette—and Chinese culture is no different. Following proper etiquette will allow you to show your respect for Chinese culture to your native friends and acquaintances and win their respect and admiration in return.
And that’s why Mandarin classes in Singapore are so highly recommended to foreigners interested in Chinese language and culture. In these classes, you learn more about Chinese culture, in addition to Mandarin Chinese.
Coming back to Chinese dining etiquette, these tips will help you conduct yourself in a proper manner next time you sit down with your Chinese friends for a meal.
Typically, the seating arrangement at a Chinese dining table is pre-determined. You should ensure you sit in the place designated to you. The seating arrangement at a dining table follows the patriarchal family structures in this part of the world. Typically, the oldest male member or female member sit at the most respectable place at the dining table, which usually is the seat facing towards the door.
Make Sure Everyone is Seated
Start eating only after everyone is seated. In Chinese culture, it is a common practice to wait for everyone to be seated before eating starts. Many a time, one person is invited to tuck in everybody. Additionally, the most senior person of the group signals the start of a formal dinner.
Don’t stick chopsticks upright in your bowl. This is something considered rude and unpleasant, so avoid it. Sticking your chopsticks in an upright position in your bowl resembles something which in turn is symbolic of death, a subject that is almost a taboo among most Chinese.
Don’t bang your chopsticks together. Such an action is linked with beggars asking for money. Amongst Chinese, having no employment is something to be ashamed of.
Hold your rice bowl close to your mouth. You can slurp your food, as it is not considered rude in Chinese culture. If you want, feel free to ask for a fresh serving. This, too, is not considered rude.
Chinese meals promote the feeling of togetherness. It is common to find round tables at Chinese banquets, instead of rectangular ones. Such a seating arrangement allows people to communicate more easily with others. Two important Chinese cultural markers are union and the moon, and a circle represents both. That’s why sharing and caring are such an integral part of Chinese dining table. You are not likely to ever find a person eating all alone in a Chinese banquet.
We hope these 6 tips will help you conduct yourself in an appropriate manner at a Chinese dining table. Apart from these dining tips, you should also try to learn at least common Chinese phrases. However, if you are serious to learn Chinese in Singapore, you should join a private class program as soon as possible, because that’s the best way to learn Mandarin.