A China-themed Lord’s Supper talk

Every second summer we visit family and friends in the U.S. and Canada, since Jessica’s from New Hampshire and I’m from B.C. This summer churches in both countries asked me to do the Sunday morning Communion talk, which means talking for a few minutes to prepare everyone to take the Lord’s Supper, which is, in those kinds of churches, a weekly ceremony where everyone very solemnly gets a cracker crumb and a sip of grape juice to commemorate Jesus’ death and silently think about its significance for a moment or two (symbolically, it’s sharing a meal together, hence the token “bread” and “wine”, in imitation of Jesus’ final meal with His closest followers before He was crucified).

While the form of this particular church heritage’s Lord’s Supper ceremony could be much improved (back in grad school we did it as part of a real meal with real food, sitting around an actual dinner table at someone’s apartment), someone who knows their Bible and theology would still be able to explain the powerful meanings and community implications that this ceremony is supposed to communicate.

Anyway, of course I made my talk China-themed, though different for each church since they’re both very different. The American church is mostly (but not entirely) white, middle and upper-middle class with a high level of education (closely connected to a local Christian university and it’s graduate school of theology). The Canadian church is in the middle of the most ethnically diverse region in all of Canada, so they have a large number of first-generation immigrants from Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe in addition to a born-and-raised-Canadian legacy crowd of fifth and sixth-generation immigrants.

Each church is also going through different things, so I emphasized different things to each church. At one church I said very little about the form/style of the ceremony but emphasized its social status division-demolishing meaning; in the other church I talked more about cultural differences. Below, I’ve mashed both talks together so it’s a bit of a mess, aiming for too many targets at once, but there it is.

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When you live immersed in a culture that’s very different from the one you grew up in, like my family does in China, it gives you lots of opportunities to notice how our own culture from North America affects not only our understanding of the Gospel, but also our experience of life together in the Kingdom of God.

Take sharing a meal together, for example (since that’s what we’re about to do, at least symbolically). If there’s one thing the Chinese know how to do well, it’s eat together. When you’re invited to a meal in China, everyone sits around a round table, facing each other, looking across more food than the guests can possibly finish. And you literally eat and drink together; you don’t scoop food on to your plate with a serving spoon and then eat off your own plate. There are no serving spoons and you don’t get your own plate. You and everyone else each take each bite with chopsticks directly from the serving dishes. Foreigners in China (like us and the other North Americans and Europeans that we know) usually call this “eating family-style”.

And it’s not just the food: even though you get your own cup, you won’t fill it yourself; someone else will make sure it doesn’t stay empty. And before each sip from your cup you’ll first catch someone’s eye across the table, raise your glasses toward one another, and then drink together. Or you’ll first clink glasses with everyone before all drinking together. But you never drink on your own.
chinese_banquet_toast
It’s all intended to communicate acceptance, respect, and togetherness. When you literally share the same bowl of food and acknowledge one another with every single sip, you’re saying that we’re in the same group; you’re one of us and I’m one of you (or at the very least, we could be). You’re honouring each other. It’s a reinforcement and celebration of that circle of relationships, of that community.

And so here we are, on the other side of the world, symbolically sharing a meal that also expresses a kind of togetherness – but this is a togetherness that only Jesus’ death and resurrection can make possible: where the honour we all receive as guests at Christ’s table, as adopted siblings in His family, and as fellow subjects in His Kingdom, transcends and makes obsolete the artificial status divisions of race, nationality, economic class, and gender. Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female – we all sit equally at this table.

Now, the meal we’re about to share doesn’t look much like a Chinese meal. Maybe one day it could. But for now at least, this church does things according to the culture and traditions of the fourth, fifth and sixth-generation immigrants to Canada – white, native English speakers. We are lovers of efficiency and convenience, and we’re highly individualistic and private. That’s why we have our little cracker crumbs, single-sip cups, and individual moments of introspection where we see the back of one another’s heads instead of each other’s faces. It’s almost like someone in the 19th century asked, “How efficient and individualistic can we make this meal while still technically ‘eating together’?”

Our modern form of Communion emphasizes each individual person’s individual relationship with God more than our relationship with God, or with one another as God’s people together. That’s why, even though we’re sitting next to each other, we typically close our eyes and ignore each other so we can have our personal moment of prayer and reflection. You can maybe imagine how from a certain angle that looks a bit odd: everyone coming together and then trying to do the most important thing alone. But that’s our modern culture and tradition. You can take it or leave it.

The New Testament churches, however, did this ceremony much more like a real meal. They were served by the host family of whatever home they were meeting in, with real bread and real wine. We can safely assume this just based on what we know about the 1st century world in general, but we can also see this reflected in the specific problems that the first churches faced that were related to the Lord’s Supper (it’s hard to overeat on cracker crumbs, for example, and it’s even harder to get drunk on grape juice. Can you imagine? Getting drunk during the Lord’s Supper? Maybe that’s why we changed it to grape juice… So we got rid of the alcohol but kept the shot glasses…?). But it helps to remember that they weren’t only somberly memorializing Christ’s death; they were also celebrating His resurrection and the new life together that they shared because of it.

Those New Testament churches didn’t have church buildings or pews or special round silver trays with little shot glasses. The shared homes and dinner tables and food and wine. But still, regardless of what form or style we choose, whether 1st century or modern, when we share our cracker crumbs and sips of grape juice we’re remembering Jesus’ sacrifice for us, and we’re also proclaiming that Jesus’ triumph over death has given us hope and new life with Him, and new life with each other together under His authority in His Kingdom.

When we do this ceremony together, however we do it, we’re saying that we’re part of the same big family, eating at Jesus’ dinner table together, and that the spiritual family bond we share, the allegiance to Christ that binds us together, takes priority over all other identities and allegiances.

At this family dinner table sixth-generation immigrants honour the first-generation immigrants as equal members; senior managers and nannies take from the same bowl; university professors acknowledge cafeteria workers before they drink – all of us humbled and all of us honoured together under Christ.

So as we share the Lord’s Supper together, remembering how Christ’s body was broken and His blood was shed for us, and celebrating His resurrection and the new life together in His Kingdom under Him that His resurrection makes possible, let’s also use the image of a Chinese meal to consider what Jesus’ sacrifice and Jesus’ triumph mean for us together.

And since I’m playing the “host” today, we’ll imitate an ancient New Testament church by having my “household” serve the “meal”.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Jesus, who makes it possible for us to receive the honour of sitting at Your table. Please teach us to realize in fact around our actual dinner tables the kind of community that we symbolically proclaim this morning. Amen.

Taiwanese_Last_Supper
When Jesus ate with chopsticks. (Click for source.)

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*Just to clear up potential confusion: This description of drinking at Chinese meals applies to the main beverage, which is alcoholic – usually beer, baijiu, and/or wine. Each person will also get a cup for tea or hot water as a secondary beverage that you can drink casually on your own. But the alcohol is the main drink, as it’s the one with the social significance.

In defense of brutally harsh traditional Chinese fathers

With a revamped Chinese study routine, I’m trying to consume as much Chinese content as I can. My teacher had me subscribe to a Weixin reading account, and I quickly found an article that’s valuable to foreigners, IMO, especially foreigners who have kids in China and Chinese friends.

The author defends the traditional harshness of Chinese fathers (as today’s 30-somethings might have experienced it) from a couple different angles. Describing common methods of forcing kids to study, some which would result in neighbours calling the cops in North America and which some Chinese parents say are “the obliteration of the child’s innate nature” (对孩子天性的泯灭), she takes aim at rising Chinese parenting trends associated with “respecting” and “accommodating the innate nature of children” (尊重/顺应孩子的天性), “free development/childrearing” (自由发展/养育), and “happy education” (快乐教育).

One of my brighter former students — she’s around 30 years old now and relatively accomplished — told me, “My father has never praised me, not even once.” To better understand her kind of experience, or people who advocate for that kind of parenting, or people who have to put up with relatives who think this way, I recommend reading through this: 你越弱,越没有人宠你 (pro tip: read in your browser with the Perapera Chinese plugin installed). The author would use my former student’s case as a point in her favour, like she does with the story of the Indian wrestling champion who forced two of his daughters to become wrestling champions (movie pictured above).

This article also demonstrates the advantage of reading “real” Chinese. When you read something written by Chinese in Chinese for Chinese you get exposed to Chinese ways of speaking, composing, arguing and thinking — you can’t get much of that from reading translated content.

For more about harsh Chinese parenting, see:

When you dare take your week-old infant to the neighbourhood vegetable market in China

The days following a birth are up and down, so Jessica tells me. Some days it’s all, “I love my baby!!! I love my kids!!! I love my husband!!!” while on occasional days the smallest criticism can provoke tears. Jessica was feeling good and feisty today. She was also tired of sitting inside and so decided to brave our neighbourhood streetside vegetable market for the first time since giving birth — with our 9-day-old son in a Ergo carrier.

baby_in_the_marketShe knew it’d be pushing the buttons of every Chinese auntie and grannie in sight and generate non-stop commentary from the moment she stepped out the door (because she’s done it before), but she didn’t care. Besides, it’s not like she hasn’t already been accused of being an evil stepmother. ;)

Here’s what she was repeatedly criticized for during her fifteen minutes in the market:

  • being outside
  • bringing the baby outside
  • wearing short sleeves (it’s 20’C and sunny at the end of May)
  • buying tomatoes (they’re a “Cold” food, as in Traditional Chinese Medicine theory “Cold”; eating “Cold” things is exactly what post-partum women aren’t supposed to do)
  • being so thin and losing weight since the birth (how much weight exactly?)
  • being too active during pregnancy and not eating the right things (and that’s why he’s so small) (he was 3kg at birth)

She opted not to mention that we’d already been to Beijing and back for an embassy run. ;)

This is our third time to have an infant in China, so none of this is a big deal and it’s completely understandable. It’s certainly not our first time to draw a crowd with a foreign baby or receive well-intentioned-but-unsolicited-and-annoyingly-personal criticism (criticism often conveys concern or interest in China; it’s not usually meant to be mean). But it’s still kind of funny, especially because her sister-in-law is here from the States to help out — a ‘fresh’ foreigner encountering China for the first time.

Way back when we were preparing to bring our first infant to China, Australian friends who’d had their kid in China around the time ours was born in Canada sent us a list of everything we had to look forward to/brace ourselves for. It’s still funny (and full of valuable information)!

Links in this post:

market_flower

Making Christmas Chinese: “a yellow Christmas for yellow skin”

Since so many of our Christmas traditions are only two or three generations old anyway, why not make Christmas yellow?

A yellow yellow yellow Christmas
A yellow yellow yellow miracle will appear
A yellow yellow yellow Christmas
Oh! A yellow Christmas for yellow skin

ChineseChristmasNativity

Could Christmas ever become Chinese? It’s complicated. For starters: What does that question even mean? And then there’s Christmas’ thorny and conflicted association with Western culture and imperialism, which this translated article lays it out well enough:

…we have a particularly strong feeling that Christianity is a foreign religion.

…sometimes Christmas faces an embarrassing situation in China nowadays. In the eyes of some Chinese, Christmas is like a white wedding dress, which is Western. When Christmas comes, the whole society is filled a with strong commercial atmosphere.

…Christmas is a symbol of Western cultural invasion. For the vast majority of non-Christians in China, Christianity is only related to Christianity and shopping. As a result, Christmas has been resisted in China several times in recent years. With the spread of the internet, the trend of resistance is intensifying.

Ten Ph.Ds from ten well-known China’s universities including Beijing University and Tsinghua University jointly published an article online on Dec 21, 2006, calling for resistance to Christmas.

The topic of celebrating Christmas seems to appear every year… the groups who boycott Christmas range from the ten left-wing cultural scholars to cultural conservatives. Laid-off workers, farmers, young students, and veterans are also included.
[…]
Christmas has become a symbol which stands for overseas culture. Even Chinese who celebrate the festival think so. Few people are concerned about how Chinese Christians should celebrate Christmas under their own cultural background…

But despite the kind of Christmas you’re most likely to witness in China, and the calls to reject Christmas outright, apparently some people are attempting to meaningfully Chinese-ify Christmas. And the attempts are… interesting, at least. The article I quoted above gives two examples. Here’s the first: Yellow Christmas by Huang Guolun (1999):

Yellow Christmas 黄色圣诞

Words & Music: Huang Guolun 词/曲:黄国伦
Performed by Huang Guolun, Zhu Yuexin, Mai Kelin 演唱:黄国伦、朱约信、苏郁修
(Listen: Youtube, Youtube, Xiami, Tudou)

When I was young I dreamed of a snowy Christmas
小的时候 我曾梦想下雪圣诞节
Waiting by my bed for Santa to appear
躲在床边等待圣诞老人的再现
The days went by year after year
日子过了一年又一年 我什麽也没看见
Oh! Childhood fantasies, a White Christmas
OH! 童年幻想 白色圣诞节
White White Christmas White White Christmas

That year I broke up with her in a rainy December
那年与她分手在那下雨十二月
Sitting in church with red-rimmed eyes singing Silent Night
红着眼眶坐在教堂唱着平安夜
The choir sang it again and again, I felt little comfort
诗班唱了一遍又遍 我觉得有点安慰
Oh! Lost love’s dejection, a blue Christmas
OH! 失恋忧鬱 蓝色圣诞节
Blue Blue Christmas Blue Blue Christmas

’til now, I can taste the flavour of Christmas
直到现在 我才尝到圣诞的滋味
The most beautiful gift that God gave to people
那是上帝赐给人间最美的礼物
In the grim reality of this world there’s sunshine shining in the door of my heart
在这冷酷现实的世界 有阳光照心扉
Oh! Golden warmth, a yellow Christmas
OH! 金黄温暖 黄色圣诞节

A yellow yellow yellow Christmas
Yellow Yellow 黄色圣诞节
A yellow yellow miracle will appear
Yellow Yellow 奇迹会出现
A yellow yellow yellow Christmas
Yellow Yellow 黄色圣诞节
A yellow Christmas for yellow skin
OH! 黄皮肤的黄色圣诞节

I want to celebrate Christmas, not just dance and spend money
我想庆祝圣诞不是跳舞和花钱
We can invest heartfelt concern into this suffering world
可以付出真心关怀苦难的世界
Just like Jesus without complaint or regret devoted His whole self
就像耶稣无怨无悔 奉献祂一切
Oh! The wonder of God’s love, a yellow Christmas!
OH! 主爱奇妙 黄色圣诞节

ChineseChristmasNativity_006b

That article’s second example appeared on the Chinese internet at the end of 2016 — a Henan folk opera that has Jesus being born in Zhumadian. I went searching and found it being passed around the chinternet as a joke:

“Three days after the winter solstice, little Jesus was born in Zhumadian. The Three Magi brought a box of apples, five jin of pork, and ten jin of flour. Mary had a red egg in her hand and Joseph was busy rolling the dumpling dough. The innkeeper brought a bowl of brown sugar and ginger drink, and called, “Elder Sister, you drink this so you don’t catch a cold.” The Party Secretary of Zhumadian village heard the news, rushed over and said, “Hallelujah! But you still have to get a Temporary Residence Permit.” Just as the sky outside the barn was turning late, everyone in the barn ate apples for peace. Red flags flutter at every home in Zhumadian, and they celebrated Christmas with firecrackers and the cry and clamour of gongs and drums.”
冬至过了那整整三天,小耶稣降生在俺驻马店。三博士送来了一箱苹果,还提着五斤猪肉十斤白面。玛丽亚手里拿着红鸡蛋,约瑟夫忙把饺子皮擀。店老板端来碗红糖姜水,喊一声大嫂你喝了不怕风寒。驻马店村支书闻讯赶来,道一声哈利路亚暂住证还是得办。只见那马棚外天色向晚,马棚里人人都吃苹果求个平安。驻马店家家户户红旗招展,庆圣诞鞭炮齐鸣锣鼓喧天。

Recently I just happened upon a third example, sort of: a creative Nativity rewrite by an ABC pastor in San Fransisco, which points out how the ancient culture in which the Christmas Story occurs resembles Chinese culture more than Western culture: What if Jesus were born in my ancestral village in China?

ChineseChristmasNativity_007b

More about Chinese racial talk and attempts to Sinicize Christmas:

The mysterious Chinese colour “qing”

The colour qÄ«ng 青, which we’ve encountered once before, popped up again recently in a story book our daughter’s preschool teacher was reading to her class. It made characters out of each colour, and showed what new colours were created when they touched. All the usual suspects were there — red, yellow, blue, green, black, etc. — plus “qÄ«ng.” See if you can figure out how to describe it.

This is “Little Black” 小黑 xiÇŽo hÄ“i:

heise_black

And this is “Little QÄ«ng” 小青 xiÇŽo qÄ«ng:qingse_qing

You can see on Little Qing’s fingers, the shirt near the fingers and the water drops, that they’ve tinged black with green and blue.

Our dictionaries aren’t super helpful, with entries like, “nature’s colour,” “green or blue,” “greenish black.” I wonder if the iridescent green of some beetles, for example, would be called qÄ«ng by my students, rather than green 绿 lÇœ.

It’s curious that our daughters are growing up with a slightly different colourscape than we did.

There’s more about qÄ«ng here: Language, perception and the Chinese colour “qÄ«ng”

The Berenstain Bears & their Chinese Neighbours

Of course we have a bunch of Berenstain Bears books, which are full of quaint life lessons (Bully trouble at school? Learn self-defense and punch her in the face!), and feature the usually-wrong-but-never-in-doubt clueless man-child dad trope, which had a satirical purpose once a upon time in a galaxy far far away, as the foil for the unfailingly patient and composed Mama Bear, who gently directs the show from backstage with an endless reservoir of commonsense wisdom, propriety, and savvy wifely interventions. Still, we loved them as kids and our kids love them now (though I did permanently shelve one of the religious ones).

Turns out there are tons of new ones (“new” as in, written after I graduated from primary school, once upon a time in a galaxy far far etc.), and our Chinese preschool library even has some. This one would have made me laugh even if we’d never moved to China but it’s extra funny here, where we’re the foreign neighbours. The Bear family gets some Chinese Panda neighbours! And apparently Papa Bear has gone from picnic spots to prejudice!

Berenstain Bears Chinese Neighbours 0
So suspicious Papa Bear! Just because they’re short and their fur is different and they like to wear matching outfits… don’t you know that’s just how they do in China Pandaland?

Berenstain Bears Chinese Neighbours 02
“What do they think they’re doing? They’re not actually moving in, are they??”

Berenstain Bears Chinese Neighbours 03
“Putting up a fence? Who puts up a fence?? Bad people who have something to hide, that’s who!”

Berenstain Bears Chinese Neighbours 04
Well, thank goodness for bamboo juice and travel stories. (Just nobody tell Papa that pandas aren’t actually bears…)

Here’s some fun we’ve had as the foreign neighbours in China:

How to scandalize your Chinese neighbours: Evil stepmother edition

How to plant trees wrong in China: Days 1-3

One of the awesome things about our neighourhood is that you can plant trees pretty much wherever. No vegetable gardens, because then our neighbourhood would be nothing but parking spaces and fields of leeks. But trees, bushes and flowers? Knock yourselves out.

Last year I tried to plant a ton of magnolias (玉兰), but the guys at the market saw me coming a mile away and sold me every kind of tree but magnolias. Whatever; they’re trees, they’re growing.

This spring planting season, however, began with me planting a peach tree and a “Chinese toon” (香椿) tree in the last two available spots in the shared grass area around our building, and ended with me uprooting them at the earnest badgering of two anxious neighbours while one of them burned incense to the tree and flower god.

Incense to the tree and flower god

It gave me yet another opportunity to stumble down the rabbit hole of traditional Chinese taboos and superstitions (note: there are many such rabbit holes in China!). And it went something like this…

Planting Trees Wrong in China — Day 1
One of my neighbours told me today that I can’t plant 香椿 (“Chinese toon / fragrant cedar / Toona sinensis”?) on the back side of the house, which is apparently what I’ve done. I’ll defer to her knowledge about trees; she’s over 50 and grew up in a Chinese village. I asked if it was because the sun was no good there. Nope, nothing to do with sunlight. I kept asking why, and she just kept saying that in China you don’t plant 香椿s behind houses, especially according to the older people. (Never mind that what she calls “behind” is the front and only entrance to our stairwell. In China front/back orients to the sun, not the front door.).

So I asked on 微信 (aka WeChat aka Chinese Facebook), and got a lot of replies:

Folk culture. 民俗文化

It’s maybe a superstition. 可能是迷信

This is a superstitious saying. Because Chinese toon buds are edible, and tasty, so as soon as Chinese toons bloom people come an pick them and eat them, so people turn it into a metaphor for not ever getting out of a predicament, meaning the family’s days will never get better. The family members won’t succeed in whatever they do. 这是一种迷信说法。因为香椿芽可食用,味道鲜美。所以春天刚发芽,就被人摘下来吃了。有人就把这种现象比喻成永无出头之日。意思是家里的日子一直都不会好转。家里人做什么事也不会成功。

This is feudal superstition, don’t bother about her. Don’t plant willows in the front, don’t plant mulberries in the back — they’re all superstitions. We just believe in Jesus, not in whatever else. 这是封建迷信,别打理他,前不种柳树,后不种桑树,都是迷信,我们只信耶稣,别的什么都不信

She means you planting that tree in that place will bring bad luck. 他的意思是你把那个树种到那个位置会给你带来倒霉的事情

You also can’t plant mulberry trees, locust trees, willow trees, pine trees, cypress trees or banyan trees in the yard. 5000 years of history have not only given us glorious, splendid culture, but also innumerable superstitions and taboos. Although not many people can explain clearly why. 院子里不能种的树还有桑树,槐树,柳树,松树,柏树,榕树。五千年的历史不仅给了我们光辉灿烂的文化,还有数不清的迷信和禁忌。尽管没有几个人能说得清为什么。

Actually (I) don’t know this rule. Here we say in the front don’t plant mulberries, in the back don’t plant willows. 倒是不知道这种规定,我们这儿是说前不栽桑(æ¡‘æ ‘),后不栽柳(柳树)

I just Baidu’d it for you. The approximate meaning is: “A single tree is inauspicious. A single one is unfavourable for the propagation of later generations, generally they should all be planted in the front! Furthermore must not just plant one!” Chinese people are rather superstitious; us Christians don’t need to care about this. 刚帮你百度了一下,大概意思是“一颗就不吉利,单一,对子孙后代繁殖不利,一般都是栽在前面!而且要不要栽一颗!” 中国人比较迷信咱们基督徒是不是可以不用管这个

Nah, my mother-in-law’s yard has a Chinese toon. 不会吧,俺婆婆院子里就有颗香椿树

There’s no problem with Chinese toons. But apparently according to fÄ“ngshuǐ, you can’t plant mulberry trees. Chinese toons are not problem. But this one is too close to the house and might obstruct the windows. 香椿树没有问题吧。但是似乎依据风水,不能种桑树。香椿没问题。但是这一棵离着房子太近可能会挡住窗户。。

I also want to know… [awkward] 我也想知道…[å°´å°¬]

So what about how the front and back of our house is full of peach and pear trees and also cherry trees? This is certainly some place’s special custom. Today I also heard a coworker say in his hometown you can’t plant mulberries in the yard because “mulberry” and “mourning/corpse/make funeral arrangements” sound the same. [sweat] 我们家房前屋后种满桃树和梨树还有樱桃树咋说?这肯定是哪里的很特别的风俗。今天还听同事说他们老家不能在院子里种桑树,因为“桑”和“丧”是一个音。[流汗]

This saying is Chinese older generation’s old thinking and old views. The previous age’s old people pay particular attention to this. 这种说法是中国老一辈的旧思想旧观念的说法,上了年纪的老人讲究这些。

Planting Trees Wrong in China — Day 2
rejected tree I just cannot win with trees in China this spring! Another neighbour (not the one from yesterday) just came down to 给我说说 about another tree, this time a peach tree (桃树). And she was in earnest. Turns out you can’t plant peach trees in the 院子 — like the “yard” of a house or courtyardï¼› they’re supposed to go on mountains or public parks. Because something about husbands dying(!) and how it will bring bad luck and all the residents in our building will be affected. I couldn’t catch all her explanation because she’s a Qingdao 奶奶 (imagine a small-town Texan talking to an international student).

And then she went out and burned incense and paper money to the Tree & Flower god and everything (I am *not* making this up) before trying to uproot a bush (not mine) that was threatening to block her windows, telling it sorry and that she was going to move it to a new home (*not* true: she hacked it to pieces with an axe, poured toilet cleaner on the roots and threw the branches in the garbage. I’m assuming the Tree and Flower god is either not that bright, or very forgiving…).

Incense and bush-killing

So I asked on 微信 again, and got a whole nother pile of replies:

So painful. Just plant what you want to plant, so long as you don’t disturb others you’re OK. China has so many superstitious ideas, what can you do? 好痛苦,想种什么就种什么,只要不影响别人就ok了,中国那么多迷信思想,怎么办?

I’d be worried about offending the peach blossoms! [snicker] 担心犯桃花[偷笑]

Just plant whatever you like to plant [grin] 你喜欢种什么就种什么吧[呲牙]

Chinese superstitions 中国迷信

So many go in for superstitions!! 搞迷信的真多!!

Frankly, I’ve never heard of this, you should Baidu it and see if you can get an answer. 说实话,我都没听说过,你百度一下试试看能不能找到答案。

There’s a proverb that says: “Don’t plant mulberry in the front, don’t plant willow in the back, don’t plant ‘ghost clap’ (also called ‘executioner’) in the yard.” Can’t plant mulberry in the front because “mulberry” sounds like “mourning/corpse”, so it’s feared to be inauspicious if you go out your door and see “mulberry”(“mourning”). In the back can’t plant willow. The sayings differ. One says it has to do with funerals and interment of the dead. Because “mourning staffs” and “soul-beckoning banners” are made from willow, and behind the tomb willow trees are planted as “money trees” and “ghost trees”, it’s easy for willow to make people think of funerals, so it’s inauspicious. Another saying says that willows don’t bear fruit. If planted behind the house in the backyard, it’s feared to be harmful, and will cause the family to not have descendents. “Ghost clap” refers to poplars. When the wind blows, poplar leaves have a “hua-la-hua-la” crashing sound, like a ghost clapping. People fear planting poplar in the courtyard will attract demons; it’s hugely inauspicious. In Shandong province’s Linqing region there’s a similar folk belief. If you plant mulberry in the front and willow in the back, it’s equal to losing the population, can’t “preserve”(“willow”) the later generations. “Executioner” refers to peach trees because peach blossoms, peach branches, and peach fruit are all blood red, so demons and ghosts all want to live in peach trees, so people don’t dare plant them in the yard. In Jiao county, peach trees can only be planted behind the house because it’s believed peach trees have evil energy/influence. If planted in the front yard, the roots will run into the house, and the people’s lives will have sorrow. In Henan province’s Fangcheng county, people also dread to plant peach trees in the yard because it’s believed peach wood has magic power. Whichever family plants peach trees will have lots of evil and disaster. It’s also said that planting peach trees is to escape from famine, because “peach” and “escape” are homophones. Among the people there’s also a saying: “Before the door a peach stump, invites wind without end”. So peach wood helps avoid evil spirits, but definitely not peach trees.俗话说:”前不栽桑,后不栽柳,院中不栽”鬼拍手”(又说”刽子手”)。院前不栽桑树,是因“æ¡‘”与”丧”同音,出门见桑(丧),惟恐不吉。后不栽柳,说法不一,一说是与殡葬死人有关。因“丧杖”、”招魂幡”都是柳木做的,坟墓后边又要栽柳树作”摇钱树”、”墓树”。所以柳树也易被人想到丧事,不吉;另一说是讲柳树不结籽,若栽于房后、院后,还恐妨害,感应得这家人家也无子嗣后代了。”鬼拍手”是指杨树。风一刮,杨树叶哗啦哗啦地响,像是”鬼拍手”。院内栽上杨树,还恐招来鬼魅,大不吉利,山东临清一带也有类似的俗信。如果前栽桑后栽柳,就合丧(æ¡‘)失人口,留(柳)不住后代,”刽子手”指的是桃树。因为桃花、桃枝、桃实都是血红色的,妖魔鬼怪都愿意在桃树上住,所以不敢种在院里。胶县一带,桃树只能种在后院,禁忌栽到前院,俗以为桃树上有邪气。如果种到前院,树根扎到屋里,人就有性命之忧。河南方城一带也忌院内种桃树,俗以为桃木有法力。谁家种桃树,主邪灾多。也有说种桃树主逃荒要饭的。这是因“桃”与”逃”谐音的缘故,民间还有”门前一株桃,讨气讨不了”的说法。所以说,是桃木避邪,并不是桃树避邪。

This is related to superstition! It has nothing to do with you. 这和迷信有关!和你一点关系都没有。

Folkways and customs 民风民俗

Planting Trees Wrong in China — Day 3
So this afternoon I transplanted the fēngshuǐ-offending, superstitious-neighbour-triggering trees from our shared yard to the public park area beside the preschool, where the neighbourhood kids play, the elderly sit in the sun, and retirees do taiji and group exercise.

The students who peed on my treeTwo of my students ran over while I was planting the second one:

“Mr. Lu! Are you done planting? Mr. Lu! Are you done planting? Mr. Lu! Are you done planting? Mr. Lu! Are you done planting?”

“Hold on… uh, yep. I’m done now.”

“Good! I have to pee!”

These poor trees just cannot catch a break.

Here they are, hopefully in their final resting places:

Peach tree 桃树 Fragrant Cedar aka Chinese toon 香椿树