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Word Count: 1,635
Ceremonies of Food That the consumption of food is an essential part of the chemical process we call life is obvious But food is more than just vital to our continued physical existence Food comforts as well as sustains us and there are few events or situations marking a persons life that fail to involve eating In most cultures food is pivotal to ceremonies involving the living and the dead birth and death are often accompanied by food rituals and superstitions For the Chinese these particular events are marked with the preparation and consumption of special foods with symbolic and often punning meanings Food semantics offer a fruitful inquiry into the Chinese social system Birth and Birthday Celebrations Even before the birth of a child the celebration of his life begins In many western cultures a party or baby shower is given to help the new family Gifts for the baby are given in order to assist the parents in clothing protecting and caring for the newborn infant After the birth of the child relatives and friends often prepare and deliver meals while the parents adapt to the routine of an infant In China numerous special foods and dishes attended confinement and childbirth Most frequently friends would send stalks of grain called man-tou which meant share the pain During the month following the babys birth the mother will traditionally eat at least 1 poached egg a day as well as some chicken or chicken soup with her meals A variety of other internal animal organs such as liver kidney brain stomach and intestines are valued and desirable foods After the birth of the baby especially a son the mothers family will send over gifts of expensive foods such as wheat flour wheat flour noodles chickens and eggs These are primarily intended for the new mother in order for her to regain her strength The fathers family makes a number of red-dyed eggs and distributes
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