Mongolian customs connected with cups (bowls)
Mongolian people say, “A person without a cup is the same as a person without a mouth.” People all have their own cup and they only eat food and drink tea out of their own cup. They don’t drink out of other people’s cups. If they go far away, they always take their own cup with them.
Mongolians raise and use wooden, glass, porcelain and silver cups. They say that copper cups help with internal sicknesses so people used them.
A silver cup is the most respected gift. Silver cups are given to friends, parents and relatives and the elderly. At celebratory times, people hold a silver cup of milk on a ceremonial scarf and say a prayer for blessing.
It is taboo to give a guest tea or food in a chipped cup or to give them an empty cup. One always places tea or food in a cup and gives it. One doesn’t half fill a cup with tea or food; he always completely fills it. When one gives a cup of tea or food, it is taboo to give it with only one hand or with the left hand. After eating and drinking, one does not place the cup upside down. Also, one doesn’t leave food in his cup.
It is taboo to deliberately break a cup. It is said that that if you break one, something bad will happen. If one accidentally breaks a cup, he must throw it away without trying to save it. If a child accidentally breaks a cup, one does not scold him; it is believed to be a good omen. One does not set down a cup given to him without tasting the tea or food. One tastes and then places it on the table. It is taboo to step over a cup.
One does not lick his cup after drinking tea or airag. However, one licks his cup after eating food or drinking yogurt.