Subscribe to free Email Newsletter

  Chinese Way>DoYouKnow

Ancient Chinese only ate two meals a day

2014-12-03 17:21:29



A deep-fried twisted dough stick, soybean milk and stuffed buns are a favorite kind of breakfast for the Chinese. [Photo/]

According to historical records, ancient Chinese before the Qin and Han dynasties only ate two meals a day due to the shortage of food and the backward economy. The first meal, called zhao shi or yong (morning food), was usually had around nine-o’clock in the morning. The second meal, called shi or sun, was eaten around four in the afternoon. If someone ate food at an improper time, it was seen as a breach in etiquette.

So why do we Chinese now eat three meals a day and when did it happen?

It can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). At that time, having three or four meals a day was limited to the rulers and the upper classes. With better developments in agriculture, people slowly changed their traditional dining discipline practice to breakfast, lunch and dinner, only they ate earlier than modern men. Because it was a farming society, people started worked at the break of dawn and rested when the sun went down. Finishing dinner meant the end of the day.

In the Song Dynasty (960-1279) the economy grew faster. The three-meals-a-day practice became widespread and directly drove prosperity in the catering industry. And now the three-meals-a-day practice is fixed and has become a way to show the Chinese love for food.