Chapter 8.2 Chinese Culture of Drinking Etiquette


China enjoys a long history, her splendid culture dots all the nationalities, which has nurtured rich and different folk customs of drinking alcohols, some of which pass down to the present.

8.2.1 Traditional Basis of the Culture of Drinking

Alcoholic Beverages-- Moralities and Etiquette of Drinking Beverages.
In history, Confuscism had been praised and admired by the rulers as formal thinking to rule over the country and strengthen national defense, the customs and rules of drinking beverages were also greatly influenced by doctrine of confuscism. Confuscism focused on the moralities of drinking alcoholic beverages.
Moralities of drinking alcoholic beverages earliest appeared in 《 Shang Shu》 and 《The Book of Songs 》 , its meaning was that drinkers should follow social moralities, shouldn't do as Emperor Zhou did--"violation of humanism and indulgence in drinking", 《 Shang Shu · Forbidden- drink Document 》 chiefly represented the Confuscian morality of drinking alcohols-- there was no drinking except for the occasion ceremony of paying esteem and worship to gods was being held; no or rare drinking except for the moment you didn't feel well in order to save grains; no big- group drinking (people were prohibited from gathering in large groups for drinking ) ; no indulgence in drinking ( then in a result deserting management of governmental affairs ) . Confuscism had no objection to drinking, considering it as goodness that people celebrated esteem to gods, show respects to the aged and entertained guests with alcoholic beverages.
The ways of drinking alcohols as a culture of diets had been developed into a set of etiquette that all should follow. Sometimes these rules were very complex and troublesome. But on some important occasions, violation of these rules were thought of as the symbol of rebellion against the present rulers. Some people were likely to over- drink, which resulted in their loss of self-control and making chaos, for this reason, it is much necessary to make the etiquette of drinking alcohols. Yuan Hong-Dao of Ming Dynasty who saw some drunkards not follow etiquette of drinking alcohols felt that the elder generation should be responsible for it, then he abstracted a great deal from the ancient books about the rules that drinkers should follow and wrote a book 《 Regulations of Drinking Alcoholic Beverages 》 specially focusing on how to behave while drinking. Although it was written particularly for those who played finger-guessing games while drinking, it was also significant to common drinkers. In ancient China there existed the following etiquette of drinking beverages:
The host and guest should knee down face to face to show respect to each other when they had a drink together. The younger generation should first kneel down before the elder to show respect to the elder generation, then took a seat after they sat down to drink. That the young had a drink together with the elder was called drinking companions. The elder permitted the younger to have a drink , the latter could take the cup up. The younger couldn't drink the alcohol in the cup up until the elder completed his alcohol in the cup first.
There were four stages of drinking etiquette in ancient China----esteem, memorial ceremony, tasting and drinking -up. That's to say, the drinker should first pay esteem by kneeling down; then pour a bit of alcohol down to the ground to thank for the kindness of earth that provided us with grains and foods; after that sip to taste it and express your appreciation of it in order to make the host delightful; at last take up the cup to drink it down.
At the feast, that the host invite the guest to drink or serve the guest by pouring the alcohol into the guests' cups was called "entertainment " , and that the guest pay back the host's kindness and entertainment by serving the host drinking was named as "thanks ", the host or guest should present a short speech to express his good will when inviting others to drink; sometimes, one of guests could stand up to invite the rest at the feast to have a drink one by one. When inviting others to drink, the invitor and invitee should both stand from their seats. Invitation of others to drink was usually limited to three cups.
Chinese nationality enjoys a name of big family that has fifty-six members, all the members, generally speaking, share different customs of drinking alcoholic beverages except that the Hui nationality who believe in Islamism generally don't have alcoholic beverages. Each nationality holds her own feature in drinking-alcohol customs.

8.2.2 Customs of Drinking Alcoholic Beverages on Big Days

On some important festivals in a year , we Chinese hold some special drinking-alcohol activities related to their own features. e.g. people have "Calamus Drink " ( a good wish to have a bumper harvest ) on the Dragon Boat festival ( the 5th day of the 5th lunar month ), on the Aged Day ( 9th day of the 9th lunar month ) people enjoy " Chrysanthemum Drink " ( a good wish to be alive everlasting ); and people enjoy " Lunar Year's Feast Drink " by celebration of the past year and welcome of a coming year on the Eve of New Chinese Lunar Year. In some areas such as Jiangxi Province, local people usually hold a get-together to enjoy drinking alcoholic beverages after they finish their rice transplantation in spring. At the moment to celebrate a bumper harvest in autumn they enjoy a particular merriment by drinking more. By the end of the get-together, usually appeared a scene that all the men got drunk and walked unsteadily home supported by their own family members.
The Eve of New Lunar Year is the most important festival and it is also the occasion on which family members get reunited. The Eve Feast is the richest dinner. Even though he is in poverty, seldom has a drink on the other occasions , he must have some drink at the Eve Feast. Some people have the custom to stay up to spend the last night in drinking after the Eve Feast. On the New lunar Year's Day, people usually don't pay a visit to Nieghbours and have a custom to stay at home in some places. From the second day of New Lunar on Year, people start to pay visits to Nieghbours around and some guests also come over to call on, the host entertain the guests with the prepared delicious dishes and alcoholic beverages to celebrate the New Lunar Year.
At the beginning of New Lunar Year, the ancient Chinese had a custom of drinking " Tusu Alcoholic Drink " among all the family members. While drinking, they started to drink from the youngest to the eldest. It was said that the drink could guard against pestilence.

"Year's Feast Drink " of Korean Nationality.

The alcohol drink on this occasion was usually brewed just before "the New Year's Beginning Day " which is similar to the Chinese New Lunar Year's Day.
" Year's Feast Drink " is mainly made of rice, together with such Chinese medicine herbs as roots of balloon flower, roots of feng-feng , cubed litsea tree and Chinese cassia tree etc. It is similar to " Tusu Alcoholic Drink ", but different from it in compositions of Chinese medicine herbs. People enjoy it by themselves or entertain the guests with it, which is considered as having a function of protecting against misfortunes and illnesses and having a longer and healthy life.

"Newly-Harvested Grain Alcoholic Drink" of Hani Nationality

Before autumn harvest every year, Hani Nationality living around Yuanjiang River's reach of Yuanan Province holds a yearly ceremony with a rich "Newly-harvested Grain Alcoholic Drink " Feast according to the traditional customs in order to celebrate a bumper harvest of crops and safety and health of people, cattle and poultry. What " Newly- harvested Grain Alcoholic Drink " is actually is made in a way each family cuts a bunch of would-be ripe grain, then hanging it on the upper part of the rear wall of the house in order to ask for the family god's bless and guard, over a hundred of grains of rice or other corn taken down with some fried into puffed grains and some not, are later put into a pot full of alcoholic drink. A lucky date is chosen to drink it, every family cooking a rich dinner, all the family members having several sips of the Newly-harvest Grain alcoholic drink and enjoying the dinner to their hearts' content.
"Chrysanthemum Drink " has a reputation of a long history. It was recorded in 《 Xi Jing Za Ji 》 that "Chrysanthemum Drink " was brewed with chrysanthemum leaves and stems which were fully grown up and some other grains, and usually drunk on September the 9th of the next year. For this reason it was entitled to "Chrysanthemum Drink"

8.2.3 Drinking Beverage Custom on Marriage

A story of " Daughter's Rice Alcoholic Drink " made in South China was first recorded in 《Nan Fang Chao Mu Zhuang》 written by Ji Han. It said that southern Chinese started to brew a rice alcoholic drink when their daughters were only several years old. When the alcoholic drink was brewed, it was buried under the bottom of a pond, and dug up again to serve the guests when the daughter got married. This kind of alcoholic drink had been inherited and later developed into a famous alcoholic drink named "Hua Diao Rice Alcoholic Drink " , Whose quality has no difference from that of the common Shaoxing Rice Alcoholic Drink except that the jar containing it has some special features carved on. When it is still in sun-dried mud mould, it has been sculpted various patterns of flowers, human figures, animals, birds, natural scenes and pavilions on. When the daughter is going to get married, the jar is dug up and the artist is asked to paint figures of different operas, such as " Eight Gods Cross the Sea " , " Fortunate Pattern of Dragon and Phoenix " ( symbolizing a merry marriage ) and " Goddess Chang- e Flying to the Moon Palace " etc. with other some lucky symbols.
" Happiness Alcoholic Beverage " is usually a substitute of " Wedding ceremony " . Arrangement of " Happiness Alcoholic Beverage " means holding a wedding party ; " going to drink 'Happiness Alcoholic Beverage ' " is to attend a wedding ceremony.
Show-Affection-to-Each-Other-Drink on Wedding Ceremony " of Man Nationality When They Got Married:
At the Wedding night, the bridal chamber is brilliant with all candles burning, the bridegroom, after taking off the veil that covers the bride's face, sits on the bride's left , the bridegroom's mother hands a cup full of alcoholic drink to the bridegroom to have a sip. While the bride's mother also hands a cup full of drink first let the bride to have a sip, then two mothers exchange their own cup and ask the bridegroom and bride to have a sip each again.

"Thanks-giving Dinner " of Man Nationality Before and After Wedding Party

The bridegroom's family present a well- cooked rich dinner contained in specially-made boxes carried by two people to the bride's family to express their thanks that the bride's family took great trouble in nurturing the bride, then marrying their son. Besides, a "Thanks-giving Matchmaker Dinner " should be cooked, placed in a round boxes, carried by one person to the matchmaker's family to express their thanks.

"Welcome Drink " and "Farewell Drink " of Daur Nationality.

As soon as the bride's relatives accompany the bride to arrive at the bridegroom's home, the bridegroom's parents should entertain the bride's relatives with two cups of alcoholic drink which is named "Welcome Drink " , the relatives should drink up in order to show they have been united as one family. After that the bridegroom's family entertain the relatives with rich dishes. After the wedding ceremony ends, the bride's relatives usually stay for a night if living far away. On the following day when the relatives are about to bid a farewell, the bridegroom's parents should stand by the gate , presenting a " Farewell Drink " to each relative .

"Engagement Feast "

"Engagement Feast " is the dinner prepared for the engagement ceremony. After having an "Engagement Feast " both sides agree to be engaged and the engagement contract has come into effect. After that both sides should keep the promise.

" A-Visit-to-Bride's Family Feast "

On the second wedding day , the newly-married couple should pay a visit to the bride's parents, and the bride's family, of course , entertain the couple with a rich dinner, which is called "A-visit-to-Bride's Family Feast. " The bride's family only prepares lunch, after lunch, the couple both will come back.

"Showing-Affection-to-Each Other Drink "

It is one procedure of the traditional Chinese wedding ceremony, it was also called "Matching Two Gourd Ladles Together " meaning getting married in ancient China . The term came into existence during Tang Dynasty. During Song Dynasty, the custom was rather popular, two cups containing alcoholic drink were tied and linked together with colorful silk lace in the mid of which there was a colorful silk flower , the couple took one cup each and drank it or exchanged the cup then drank it. The tradition is widely spread over China. For example, in Shaoxing District, the ceremony is held by a married woman who is selected for her good fortune, her having sons and daughters among the relatives. Before having the drink, the bridegroom and bride are provided with some rice dough nuts and two cups of Hua Diao Rice Alcoholic Drink are poured by the selected woman who first presents the two cups to the bridegroom and bride, each taking one and having one sip. after it , the selected woman will mix the two cups of drink together, which symbolizes " You are mine, mine is yours " , and ask the couple to finish the drink. In the end, the woman will cast a number of candies to the crowd standing outside the door watching.

"Arm-Crossed Drink " at the Wedding Ceremony "

At the wedding ceremony, the newly-married couple will take a cup of drink each and cross their arms in the shape of EMBED MSDraw \* mergeformat to have a sip in order to show the affection and love to each other.

8.2.4 On Worship Ceremony to Gods and Ancestors, Funeral Ceremony and Alcoholic Beverages.

Folk Alcoholic Drinking Customs on the Occasions of Worship to Gods and Ancestors, and Funeral Ceremony:
All the Chinese nationalities enjoy the customs of holding the memorial ceremony to worship gods and ancestors with alcoholic drinks.
When a person died, the relatives and friends all came to express their last memory and esteem to the dead. The Hans have a custom of holding a memorial feast- - a "Non -animal Meat Feast ", some places call the dinner "Soybean - - curd Feast". Although the non-animal meat feast is usually held at the funerals, the alcoholic drink can't be saved. Some minorities go to express their last memory to the dead with some alcoholic drinks and meat, e.g, the Miao Nationality Shares the tradition, the villagers usually present some jin of alcoholic drink, rice joss sticks and candles etc. to the family whose member was dead, the relatives should present more. For example, the son-in-law should present twenty jin of alcoholic liquor and a pig. The family with someone dead should entertain the people coming to offer their condolences with a dinner and the alcoholic. In the Nu nationality area in Yunnan province, all the families of the village should come to condole with some alcohol when someone is dead . The wizard pours some alcohol into the dead person's mouth, while all the people on the spot have a cup of alcohol each , which is named "a Leaving Forever Drink." In ancient China, when the dead was buried, some alcoholic was usually placed into the tomb. This meant the dead could enjoy the fun of drinking in the nether world. The Hans have a custom to bring some alcohol and meat to tombs and graves to pay their memorial esteem to ancestors on Brightness Day.
On some important festivals, when a family feast is held, important seats should be kept for the dead ancestors, the family head should take a less important seat, the family can enjoy the dishes and alcoholic drinks only after all the dishes and alcoholic drinks have firstly been placed the dead ancestors' seats which means they have been tasted by the dead ancestors first. Before the dead ancestors' pictures, some dishes and cups of drink are placed with candles burning, which expresses the family's memorial thinking and esteem.

8.2.5 Some Other Customs of Drinking Alcohol Beverages

"Monthly Birthday Celebration Feast " and "One Hundred Day After Birth Celebration Feast" are widely spread customs. When one couple have a baby, relatives and friends will be invited to have a rich dinner to celebrate at the moment the baby has been one hundred days old or one month old. The relatives and friends come to congratulate usually with some presents or some money as a gift.

A Celebration feast for A Newly-born baby Under the Guardianship of Clergyman.

In ancient times, a newly-born baby would be sent to the temple nearby to register for a clergyman only in name when the fortune teller said that much trouble and misfortune would fall upon the baby. Wealthy and powerful families usually held magnificent ceremonies-- paying a visit to the clergy father, holding big feasts and worshipping gods and ancestors. All the relatives and friends would be invited to have dinners for celebration.

Long-and-Healthy Life Celebration Feast.

We Chinese have a custom of celebrating the aged people's birthday. The fifty, sixty and seventy birthdays are entitled to great birthdays, which are usually celebrated by his or her children or grandchildren with bumper feasts, all the relatives and friends invited.

"Beam-placed-on-the-roof Celebration Feast " and " Moving -into-a-new-house Celebration Feast "

In the countryside of China, building of a new house is a great event. During the construction, beams placed on the roof of the house is a very remarkable process. For this reason a feast is held for celebration. In some places there exists a popular custom of watering the beams with alcoholic drinks. After completion of the house and removal of the family into the new house, a feast is also held to not only celebrate completion of building the house but also worship gods and ancestors for asking their blessing.

" A Feast for Opening a Business " and " A Division of Dividends feast "

A feast is held for celebration at the moment a business starts. A feast is usually held for celebration by the end of a year when profits of a business are divided according to the shares

" A Farewell Drinking Dinner "

It is held at the moment a friend is going to leave to express the feeling to be reluctant to part each other. During the warring period, when brave warriors were sent to carry out very dangerous tasks which would take risk of their lives, the commanders usually presented a cup of alcoholic drink to each of them in order to encourage them to succeed in completing the tasks.

8.2.6 Peculiar Ways of Drinking the Alcoholic

A Way of Drinking the Alcoholic by Sucking

It is a peculiar way of drinking the alcoholic handing down from the ancient times, which is popular in many places of the Southwest and Northwest. In merry days or festivals, a jar of alcoholic drink is taken out to entertain guests, people are sitting around the jar, each holding a pipe and placing it into the jar to suck the alcoholic drink through the pipe, the number of suckers reaching up to five to six or even seven to eight. The air is rather cheerful while people suck the alcoholic . This peculiar way of drinking the alcoholic plays a role of exchanging people's feelings.

A Way of Drinking in a Ring

It is a peculiar way of drinking the alcoholic among the Yi nationality. People can have a drink in any places, hosts and guests all sitting on the ground in rings , a cup of alcohol passed by turns in a ring, each having one sip. This custom is said to stem out of a very moving legend: In a big mountain lived three men--- a Han, a Tibetan and a Yi who pledged to be faithful to brotherly relationship. One year , the youngest Yi invited the other two brothers to have a dinner, the left rice in the pot turned to be a tasteful and fragrant rice alcoholic drink. The three brothers offered the drink from one to another, all wishing to leave the fragrant drink to others to enjoy, the drink being passed down from one to other, from morning till night, still remained in the drinking vessel. Later the god informed them that hard working could produce more tasteful drink after it was taken in . Then the three brothers started drinking it by turns in a ring, all getting drunk.

8.2.7 Ways of Urging Guests to Drink More at Feasts

The Chinese's hospitality is fully expressed at feasts or dinners. People will exchange their feelings while they urge others to drink more , their love to each other will be purified and raised to a higher level. While drinking, we Chinese like urging others to drink more in order to express the host's and hostess' honesty and friendship. The more the guest drinks, the more cheerful the host or hostess feels, which symbolizes having good opinions of the host or hostess . If the guest refuses to have a drink, the host or hostess will feel disgraced. Some people have concluded the ways of urging others to drink more as follows: "a polite urge ", "a forceful urge " and "a punishing urge ". These ways of urging others to drink more express the traditional, simple, and honest remaining customs on the one hand, but also have some negative effects on the other hand.
"A Polite Urge" is a way to show the traditional virtues of drinking etiquette--to urge guest to drink more in a manner of politeness and proper formalities.
When a feast starts, the host begin with his first urge by delivering a short speech, all the guests and host should stand up at the moment . The host will firstly drink to the bottom, then turning the cup upside down to show he has already had his drink, which shows his respect to the guests. The guests on this occasion should usually drink the cup up. During the course of the feast, the host usually go around the tables to urge the guests to drink more.
"A Return Urge " is a way the guest is grateful to the host for his entertainment to ask the host to drink more.
" An Each Other's Urge ". It is a way to urge each other or one another to drink more among the guests. In order to ask others to drink more, the propose will find out various excuses and reasons to urge others to drink more. If the guest who is asked to drink more can't find out the reasons to reject, he is obliged to drink more. During the course of searching for excuses to refuse the proposer's invitation, the love and friendship among drinkers will be improved and bettered.
" The Substitute Drinks on Behalf of the Invitee " It is a way which can not only keep the invitee's grace but also save the face of the host or guest as well and doesn't make them feel disappointed . If you are unable to drink or have drunk too much, and the host or the guest persists in asking you to drink more in order to show his esteem, in such a case; you can ask a substitute to drink on behalf of you. At the wedding party, the brides- maid and bridegroom-best-man are usually the ideal substitutes, who must be capable of drinking much more.
In order to urge others to drink more at the feast, there are many interesting expressions such as you should drink a toast if you have a good will with me, or never have an adequate drink if you have a profound friendship with me; or just have a sip if you have no deep affection with me. "
" A Punishing Urge to Drink More " It is a peculiar way of the Chinese to urge others to have more drink. There exists a variety of excuses of punishing urge, but the most common is probably to urge those who are late for the feast or dinner or party to have three cups of drink in a rush, which sometimes have some characteristic just making fun of those being late for the feast.
The Tibetan nationality is very hospitable and likely to entertain guests with Highland barley Alcoholic Drink . When serving the guest, they first pour a full cup of the drink then present it to the guest. The guest should accept it with two hands, then one hand holding it, another hand's middle finger and thumb dipping into the cup and flicking drops of the drink upward to worship heavenly gods, after it , repeating the movement twice respectively to worship ground gods and Buddha. This sort of tradition reminds people of being aware that the origin of the Highland Barley Alcoholic Drink results from the generosity of heavenly gods, ground gods and Buddha. For this reason people should first worship god before enjoying the drink. While drinking, the Tibetan must follow the custom: the guest first has a sip, then the host fills up the cup; the guest has a second sip, and the host fill up the cup again, then another repetition. After that, the guest should drink up, which symbolizes you consider the host highly. The more the guest drink, the happier the host feel. which signified the host's well- brewed alcoholic drink. When urging the guest to drink more, the Tibetan are accustomed to presenting the gentleman with a large cup or a big bowl, but presenting ladies with a small cup or a small bowl.
The Zhuang nationality usually uses white china spoons, not cups to present the alcoholic to each other. When drinking, the host and the guest take a spoon each to get some drink from a bowl full of drink, then exchanging their spoons to take it with. At this moment the host will begin drinking chant:
"A tin-pot full of alcoholic liquor shining.
Present it to you with my honesty.
Beg you to take it in with your pleasure.
Urge you to drink more as I worship gods.
A white china bowl full of alcoholic liquor shining.
Present it to you, please no refusing.
Although the drink not so tasteful and fragrant.
I urge you to drink with my true affection.
I'll consider you as a god if you have half the drink."
The Yugu nationality living in Northwest China has a custom of presenting two cups of drink to the guest. No matter how many guests the host has, he takes out only two cups, the host present will use the cups to urge the guest(s ) to drink double cups of alcohol by turns.

8.2.8 Drinkers' Wager Game

Drinkers' wager game while drinking is a particular method in China to help obtain more fun. The drinking wager game shares a long history. At start it was probably set up to keep a certain rule while people drank. There occurred " Drinking Discipline " during Han Dynasty. That's to say, the drinking rules were set up at feasts so that those who didn't follow the rules and didn't drink the cup up would receive a certain penalty. During the primitive times, there existed a shooting game at feasts--those losing their shooting games would be fined to drink more. There once existed a " Casting-arrow-into-a-drink-pot Game " among our ancestors, which stemmed out of the Shooting game of West Power of Zhou Dynasty. There was a pot placed on the table, all the guests cast arrows into the pot by turns, those casting more arrows into the pot were game winners and those losing the game should have more drink. In Chapter 44 of 《 Red- chamber Dream》 there is a vivid description of drinking wager game as following: Yuanyang ( a maid servant ) first drank up a cup of rice alcoholic drink, saying with a smile, " The drinking rule is as authoritative as the military order, everyone, no matter you are a lord or a servant, should follow my orders, those offending against my orders should be fined. " In general, the drinking wager game is used as a penalty to urge drinkers to drink more, but the chief purpose to carry out the drinking wager game is to make a more cheerful air while people drinking . It is quite common case that at feasts the people present don't know each other. The drinking wager game plays a role of catalytic promoter to stimulate a cheerful scene appearing at dinner tables.
The drinking wager game can be played in various ways. Nobles and intellectuals played the drinking wager game that, of course, was different from that of the common citizens did. The former played it by means of writing- poem competitions, word-puzzles and puzzle guessing etc. While ordinary people played it in a way which was simple, easy to perform with no preparation.

Picture 8.1 Drinking Vessel Flowing Along Winding Rivelet

Picture 8.2 Throw A Arrow into a Kettle to decide who should drink

Picture 8.3 Jiu Cho

Picture 8.4 A finger-guessing game
The most common and simplest way of playing the drinking wager game is named " a finger-guessing game. " i. e. the drinkers both should stretch out his fingers in a certain shape to stand for a certain number, while they both should say certain number at the same time. If the number said by one of the drinkers is just equal to the one that both drinkers' fingers stand for adding up together, the drinker who says the right number is a winner, the other is a loser and should have a drink. If they both say a right number there is no winners this time and they should repeat the game.

A Game of Passing Down a Flower While Beating a Drum

It is a cheerful , lovely and intense penalty game for drinking more. At feasts or dinners, the host and guests take their seats in a proper order, in order to do justice to all people present a person sitting in another separated section is responsible for beating a drum. When the game starts, a flower is being passed down by turns. If the person is just holding the flower when the drum stops beating, he or she will be fined to drink a cup of alcohol. For this reason, everyone passes the flower down quickly for fear that he or she should hold the flower in the hand when the drum stops beating. The operator should be tactical in beating the drum, sometimes quick in beating. sometimes slow, which increases the strain. All the people will focus their eyes on the person holding the flower in the hand and all bursting into laughter at the moment the drum stops beating, the strained atmosphere disappears in a sudden, and the person holding the flower in the hand has to have a more cup of drink. If the flower is just between two persons, it will be decided by the finger-guessing game to see who'll be fined to drink. The game of passing down a flower by turns while beating a drum is suitable for all people ---the young and the aged, but it is commonly used among ladies. For example, there exists a vivid description of the game being played among the ladies of Jia Family in 《 Red-Chamber Dream 》.