A post-funeral ‘consolation feast “ is usually hosted by the deceased’s relatives for those who have attended the funeral ceremony. The purpose is to relieve them from the sadness and grief. However, the custom varies from place to place, from religion to religion. What follows is simply a general description of the custom ,which has no hard and fast rules.
There are two types of “consolation feast”. Which feast to be served depends on whether the relatives are still in their mourning garments or “sackcloth”. If they are still in mourning garments, the feast will consist of seven dishes and one dessert. Otherwise, it will be eight dishes and one dessert.
If fruits are served, it is not appropriate to serve melons or honey melons. The Cantonese names of both fruits remind one of death and misfortune.
In the same vein, one should not order sweet lotus seed soup for dessert. Scallops are to be avoided as well, as both lotus seed and scallop have the connotation that misfortune will befall the next generation. There is also a list of food items to avoid, all because of their Cantonese names. The Chinese also believe that the newly deceased will be making friends with animals in the underworld, so one should not eat beef or horse meat either.
On the other hand, some dishes are favoured because of the good fortune believed to be brought about by their names. Lettuce for instance implies “Money” “生財” ; fried chicken with soy sauce, together with braised pork, imply good health and vitality “紅皮赤壯” ) ; vegetarian dishes imply that the hosts are kind people and will not kill living creatures for food; fish implies flexibility and competence
“出水能遊”; Abalone means of tolerance and acceptance , and fish maw and goose feet means having icing on the cake “錦上添花”. Scrambled eggs with shrimps is a dish usually served when the deceased is an old man (60 or above) who die a natural death.)
In consolation feast, the first course is always the dessert sweet soup
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