National Chopsticks Day Date in the current year: February 6, 2024

National Chopsticks Day Asian cuisine is so popular around the world today that a lot of people in Western countries can eat with chopsticks just fine. In the United States, there’s even an unofficial National Chopsticks Day, celebrated annually on February 6.

Chopsticks are believed to have originated in China. According to the Han dynasty historian Sima Qian, who is regarded as the father or Chinese historiography, chopsticks were known before the Shang dynasty (c. 1600 — 1046 BC). However, there is no archaeological or textual evidence to support this claim. The earliest chopsticks discovered by archaeologists are dated to 1200 BC, and the earliest textual reference dates back to the 3rd century BC.

Interestingly, the first utensil developed in China was the spoon. Chopsticks were originally used for cooking and serving bits of food, but not for eating. The Chinese began to use them for eating alongside spoons during the Han dynasty. During the Mon dynasty, chopsticks became the primary cooking, serving and eating utensils in China. From there, they spread to other parts of Asia.

Today, chopsticks are the primary eating utensils in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. They are also used for eating certain ethnic food, mostly noodles, in some countries of South and Southeast Asia such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore and Thailand, as well as parts of India.

Chopsticks can be made from different materials. The most frequently used materials are bamboo, wood, metal (for example, stainless steel, silver or titanium), ceramics, and plastic. Disposable chopsticks are usually made of wood or bamboo. Non-disposable wooden/bamboo chopsticks are usually lacquered or varnished to prevent warping and deterioration with continued use.

The chopstick material of choice largely depends on the country. In China, bamboo and wooden chopsticks are most commonly used at home, while restaurants offer plastic (melamine) chopsticks due to their ease of sanitation and durability. In Japan and Vietnam, lacquered bamboo or wooden chopsticks are the most common, whereas Koreans typically use metal chopsticks, which are paired with a spoon (a traditional Korean set of chopsticks and a spoon is called sujeo).

Chopstick etiquette also varies from one Asian country to another. For example, it is considered normal in China to pick up a rice bowl, bring it closer to one’s mouth, and use chopsticks to push its content directly into the mouth. In Korea, however, it is considered uncultured and rude. Using chopsticks to pass food directly to somebody else’s chopsticks is a big no-no in Japan, whereas in China it is socially accepted to pass food using one’s personal chopsticks to close family members.

Asian cuisine is so popular today that the United States even celebrates National Chopsticks Day. Like most food days, it is unofficial and doesn’t have a clear cut origin, but the celebration has been around since at least 2012. To celebrate National Chopsticks Day, go out to your favorite Asian restaurant or order takeout and eat your meal using chopsticks (which is great for your fine motor skills, by the way).

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National Chopsticks Day, holidays in the United States, unofficial holidays, food days, chopstick etiquette