Happy National Chopsticks Day! (February 6th)

chopsticks and celadon green ceramic on wood table background

(PCM) Why is February 6th celebrated as National Chopsticks Day? The internet isn’t forking up an answer, but it seems like a good excuse to grab some kung pao, sushi, or noodles tonight!

The next time you’re enjoying some delicious Asian cuisine, take a moment to appreciate the simple elegance of the chopsticks. These slim, tapered utensils have been in use in China for an estimated 5,000 years, first as a cooking implement and later for cultured eating. Chopsticks spread to other parts of Asia by 500AD, and are now the favored dining implement by a majority of the world’s eaters; their styles and use vary from region to region.

Chopstick table etiquette can be pretty complex; diners are advised not to point at others with their sticks, for example, or to suck on the ends, or insert them upright into their food. Don’t bang on dishes with them, either (you might look like a beggar) or scrape them together (to imply you’ve been given cheap sticks). The do’s and don’ts go on and on: and here you thought just holding them was hard!

The term “chopsticks” is said to come from the Pidgin English of Chinese sailors, for whom “chop chop” meant quickly, quickly! Chopsticks are similarly tied to the Chinese method of quickly cooking bite-sized bits of food (as in stir fry). The modern Chinese word for chopsticks, “kuaizi”, means roughly “quick bamboo fellows”.

Everyday chopsticks are generally made of bamboo, but you may find them crafted from all kinds of materials, from plastic and metal to fine china or bone. Painted or etched chopsticks can make lovely souvenirs or gifts for newlyweds (“quick fellows” can be read as “have boys quickly”!), fellow foodies, or maybe that special someone – last-minute Valentine’s Day idea?

Or you can gift them to yourself, along with a generous helping of something yummy. Chow down! It’s National Chopsticks Day!

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