Traditional Chinese Symbols for Longevity

For thousands of years, people the world over have been looking for ways to prolong their lives. Many of Chinas foods, paintings and literary and calligraphy works have long reflected Chinese peoples desire to achieve longevity. In this edition, Women of China English Monthly explains shouxing (God of Longevity), shoumian and shoutao (noodles and peach-shaped … Continue reading “Traditional Chinese Symbols for Longevity”

For thousands of years, people the world over have been looking for ways to prolong their lives. Many of Chinas foods, paintings and literary and calligraphy works have long reflected Chinese peoples desire to achieve longevity. In this edition, Women of China English Monthly explains shouxing (God of Longevity), shoumian and shoutao (noodles and peach-shaped cakes eaten on ones birthday), all of which are Chinese symbols that best represent longevity. Through the explanations, one may catch a glimpse of the unique charm of traditional Chinese culture.

For generations, Chinese have held especially on their relatives 60th, 70th, 80th, 90th and 100th birthdays parties for their elders. During the parties, they generally worship shouxing , eat shoumian and shoutao, and pray that their relative (who is celebrating the birthday) will live a long, happy life.

According to Chinese legend, shouxing was originally a star, and that star was responsible for human longevity. Over time, Chinese transformed the star into the God of Longevity, a human-looking god who had a kind face and long beard. The god looks peculiar; his broad forehead is shaped like a peach, and his ears are so large that they touch his shoulders. The god, surrounded by auspicious animals, such as bats and deer, holds a dragon-headed crutch in one

hand, and a large peach in the other hand. Chinese believe longevity is the most important blessing one can receive. When they celebrate their elders birthdays, they usually hang a painting of shouxing in their elders bedrooms, and they pray their relatives will live for a long time. Also, Chinese refer to their elders who live to a ripe, old age as lao (elderly) shouxing .

Chinese customs require that the elderly have shoumian for their birthday feasts. As Chinese believe the noodles symbolize longevity, they think the longer the noodles, the better. During a feast, the elder also drinks shoujiu (birthday wine), which is the

homophone of long life in Chinese. Legend has it that Emperor Wu, the fifth emperor of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), once joked to his officials that a person with a long philtrum would live a long life. Dongfang Shuo, one of the emperors officials, replied that if true, then Peng Zu, the god who lived more than 800 years, must have had a very long face.

As the Chinese word for face is mian , which also means noodles, and as a long face is mian chang , or long noodles, Chinese use long noodles to symbolize longevity.

Shoutao (peach-shaped cakes) are also must-have items for an elders birthday feast. According to legend, Xiwangmu (also known as the Queen Mother of the West) held a birthday party in her palace each year on March 3. During each party, she entertained immortals with peaches of longevity.

For thousands of years, Chinese have believed the peach is a symbol of longevity. As the peach is a seasonal fruit, people make shoutao (with flour) to offer to their elders as birthday gifts. Another legend has it that Sun Bin (a military strategist during the Warring States Period [475-221 BC], and the person who wrote Sun Bin on the Art of War) apprenticed under Gui Guzi, to study the art of war deep in the mountains, for 12 years. One spring day, when Sun was 30, he realized it was his mothers 80th birthday.

He asked Gui for a leave, so he could return home to visit his mother. Gui gave Sun a peach, and he told Sun to offer it to his mother as a birthday present. Sun gave his mother the peach and, to his surprise, her wrinkles disappeared and her hair turned black and shiny as she ate the fruit. As the story spread far and wide, many people offered peaches, during the summer when the fruit ripened, as birthday presents to their elders. During other seasons, they made peach-shaped cakes (with flour) to give as gifts.

Over the years, Chinese have adopted new customs for celebrating relatives birthdays. For example, in the old days, people usually held birthday parties for their elders at home; in recent years, Chinese have preferred to hold birthday feasts in restaurants.

(Source:Women of China English MonthlyDecember 2014 Issue)

Please understand that ,a non-profit, information-communication website, cannot reach every writer before using articles and images. For copyright issues, please contact us by emailing: . The articles published and opinions expressed on this website represent the opinions of writers and are not necessarily shared by womenofchina.cn.

Children Taste Malt Sugar on Occasion of Daxue in E China

Aerial Photos Show Scenery of Zigui in C Chinas Hubei

Sex Education Gains Recognition Among Chinese Parents

Annual Intl Conference Held to Promote Gender Equality, Eliminate Discrimination

Children Taste Malt Sugar on Occasion of Daxue in E China

Aerial Photos Show Scenery of Zigui in C Chinas Hubei

Sex Education Gains Recognition Among Chinese Parents

Annual Intl Conference Held to Promote Gender Equality, Eliminate Discrimination

Tips for Dating Chinese Women

Dating a Chinese woman needs to be handled differently than dating a woman from the Western culture.

Chinese women expect a man to be respectful and honest.

Expectations in relationships are much higher in Chinese culture and they are taken more seriously from the outset. Making the right first impression is incredibly important if you want to go out on a date with a Chinese woman. Honesty and respect are highly rated.

In Chinese culture it is expected that a man will take the initiative and ask a woman on a date.

If you do ask for a date, make sure you are polite and show her respect. Once on the date it is expected that the man will pay for whatever activity is chosen. Make sure that you do not talk too much on the date. Ask her questions about herself and really listen to her answers. Chinese women expect you to respect their thoughts and feelings and do not like a man who talks too much or is boastful.

A Chinese woman may be looking for a partner in marriage and may take dating quite seriously, but she may also just be looking for someone to spend some time with.

Discuss very early on what you want and your hopes for the future. If you looking for a one night stand or a quick fling, you are probably dating the wrong person. If you are seriously interested in her and want to get to know her better, tell her that. It is likely that she will want to do the same.

Chinese women will not necessarily say what they are feeling.

They are more likely to show you how they feel about you through their actions. Chinese women may look after you by buying things or making you good food. They may help you choose an outfit and help you to look good, or they will look after you if you are sick. This is how they express their affection as they may be too shy to express their deeper feelings. When she trusts you completely she will tell you how she feels.

If you have managed to get far enough for the woman to think that you are serious, you will need to meet her family.

The approval of her family will be very important and you should try to make the best impression you can. Bring a gift, but be careful as gifts have very symbolic meanings in China and the wrong gift could put you in a very bad light. The best gift would be something unique and creative that they would be interested in. If they like sports and health, buy them special health food. The best thing to do is to ask your girlfriend what they would like. When meeting the parents be yourself, be honest and be respectful. Remember the parents just want the best for their child.

Asian Promise: Asian Promise Free Asian Dating Service

Socyberty: Tips For Sucess Dating Asian Girls

China Hush: Chinese Dating Etiquette: What is easy to do is also easy not to do

Chinese Ladies: Chinese Courtship Customs

News At 0086: What Kind of Gifts Is SuitableFor Visisting Your Chinese Parents In Law At The First Time?

Zoe Van-de-Velde began writing in 1990 and contributes to eHow and Answerbag. Van-de-Velde has a Bachelor of Arts & Humanities in media and English from DeMontfort University. She is currently studying for a Master of Arts in creative media arts specializing in digital photography at the London South Bank University.

The Best Matches for a Capricorn Man

What Kind of Women Do Scorpio Men Like?

Things to Say That Will Leave a Girl Breathless

Ways to Let a Girl Know Youre Interested

How to Know If a Shy Woman Is Interested in a Man?

The Difference Between Courtship & Dating

How to Ask a Girl Out if You Are Afraid of Getting Rejected

How to Convince a Girl Shes Beautiful

** Our Terms of Use Agreement was revised 10/9/2017.