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Chinese Culture - The grabbling game

2008年4月28日 20:51:18 sz12 Culture

Chinese babies face their first multiple-choice test only one year after their birth

 Everyone in China knows about the trauma of university entrance exams, but the first test for Chinese children comes much earlier in life than this teenage challenge and the uncertainties of job interviews.

The jolly little bundles on their very first birthday are very likely to be subjected to their first multiple-choice test-the grabbing game.

On the occasion of their child's first birthday, after enjoying a sumptuous feast, the bubbling baby's parents and relatives place an assortment of articles on the table for the child to choose from as a test of his or her inclinations and capabilities in later life.

According to scholars, the history of the grabbing game can be traced back to the Northern and Southern Dynasties (AD 386-589).

And despite the great social changes, the country has seen many Chinese people still maintain the ancient custom.

Many Chinese people still hold elaborate banquets in their homes or in posh hotels to celebrate the first birthdays of their children.

If you happen to number among the fortunate foreigners lucky enough to get invited to such a banquet, don't forget to prepare "something special" for the baby in addition to the usual gift.
Then, what is this something special?

Quite simply, the special things are the various articles needed for the grabbing game. You can bring along any special article that takes your fancy, including such things as books, toys, cosmetics, jewellery, flowers or money.

After the items are put up for grabs, you just sit back and wait to see what baby wraps his pinkies around.

In the eyes of many Chinese parents, a book is the best choice. If a book is the first thing to take baby's fancy, the chances are that the little treasure will become an avid reader, and if the gods are in a good mood, maybe even a famous scholar.

This is the right time to express your best wishes, because the baby's "judicious choice" adds luster to the lucky parents.

But not all the parents are lucky enough to have bookish babies. Remember, there are other articles on the table.

To encourage the scholarly choice, some parents "helpfully" see to it that a book is the closest thing to baby, or offer baby a bit of friendly persuasion.

The parents do so because of their fervent hope that their children will succeed in life. So, if a little "back-dooring" goes on, you'd best be understanding.

Predictably, a few little darlings pay no attention to mommy and daddy's helpful hints. The most embarrassing thing is for a wayward boy to make a grab at toys or women's cosmetics.

Any little tyke who does so will be widely considered a certain sybarite destined to indulge in pleasures, even of the immoral sort.

At the moment, be ready to console the parents with supportive, though not necessarily sincere, suggestions.

As with those much feared and frequently failed university entrance exams, a good suggestion might be to have the little emperor try again!

Beijing Weekend 2002

Tag:Chinese Culture  

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