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My grandfather Ye Ye told me that when he was a boy growing up in Shanghai, he saw many large red boxes placed at major street corners. Each had four gilded characters written on its surface:
jing xi zi zhi, respect and cherish written words. Workmen with bamboo poles patrolled the streets picking up any stray pieces of paper with writing. The content of these boxes were burned at regular intervals at a special shrine in the Temple of Confucius. These paper-burning ceremonies were solemn occasions resembling high mass at a Catholics cathedral, with music and incense. Candidates who had successfully passed the imperial examination were the only ones allowed to participate. They would prostrate themselves in worship and pray to Heaven until all the paper had been reduced to ashes. On their way out, they would further show their respect by placing a donation into a separate red box label
yi zi qian jing, One Written Word Is Worth a Thousand Pieces of Gold.
— Adeline Yen Mah

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