Longevity (寿, shou), or long life, is an important goal in Chinese culture and considered good luck. The symbolism of longevity can be seen in Chinese art, decorations, and even tattoos. My Grouchy Husband has the character for longevity on his ankle. He got this tattoo in college and luckily it IS the correct character for longevity because he doesn’t know how to read Chinese!
Because good health promotes a long life, natural remedies, internal exercise, and stress management are a big part of Chinese culture. The foundation of a Chinese diet are foods with high health benefits such as fresh vegetables and fruit, bone broth and rice. My Grandmother is the most health conscious person I know. For genetic reasons, she has always been on the boarder of having high blood pressure and blood sugar so she skims every visible piece of fat from her broths, adds only trace amounts of salt to her food, hardly ever eats food made with sugar, and does a morning exercise routine with her friends in the courtyard of her apartment building. She is over 80 years old and has been able to avoid medications because of her healthy choices.
The long length of noodles (also known as “long life” noodles) and long leaves on leafy greens are eaten to symbolize long life. They are always eaten during holidays and celebrations, and almost everyday in my house.
Bamboo is a symbol of longevity because it can survive the harshest natural conditions and still stay green all year round.
In Chinese culture a long life is highly regarded. There is a great effort to eat well and take care of your body to promote a long life. Symbols of long life can be seen throughout homes and during celebrations. My favorite regard for long life is the prominent respect for elders. My parents and grandparents are amazing people and I have the deepest level of respect for who they are and how they have influenced me. It’s the type of respect where whenever they ask, I will always listen, come, and do.
How have you seen the symbolism for longevity in your life?
Cheers to long life, good health, and respecting our elders,