Chinese Wooden Toilet
We are back in China after our summer break in the USA. We have returned for our second year working at Suzhou Singapore International School. We met with our dear Chinese friend who works in Human Resources at Price Waterhouse Cooper here in Suzhou. She is smart, university-educated here in China, a career-woman, in a good job; making good money, like many in the rising middle-class of China. She is over thirty and unmarried. Like many young Asian women, she is becoming more common: women who have careers and are not married. We talked with her since we have been back and asked about not being married. She lives with her parents, like many of the Chinese single-child generation. She loves her parents and they love her. We asked her how her parents feel about her not being married. She said, “They have given up hope…they are thinking of throwing out the wooden toilet!” We said, “Wooden toilet? What is that?” She explained yet another unknown-to-us Chinese custom. She said, “In the old days, even when I was child, every family used the wooden toilet, and in the morning there was some people who would collect the toilet at people’s door… they would pull it into a big toilet pool and clean them, then put it back at people’s front door. Every family will pay them monthly. Parents with a daughter would buy a wooden toilet for when their daughter will get married. This wooden toilet is new (never been used) and special. In the wedding, the bride’s family will send this new wooden toilet filled with peanuts, Chinese dates, and longans in it to the new couple’s new house. This would be a good wish and hope the new couple will have babies soon. I am so glad you are interested in Chinese culture and like it here. I’ll try to let you know as much I can. Here I attached a picture of a wooden toilet I found.
These are not new or pretty ones. The bridal ones are new and have never been used. They are painted and decorated very beautifully.”
So these “wooden toilets” are like large chamber pots, that were used in our grandmother’s days, before indoor plumbing, and in my own grandmother’s case, after indoor plumbing (old habits die hard…)! We are continually learning new and interesting things here in China!