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Godparents

In Guangzhou, it is a custom for parents to find godparents for their children. All parents want their children to be safe and have a bright future. If their children are physically weak, parents would find a godfather or godmother who has many children and is wealthy. This custom is known as "Shangqi". In some cases, two people who are good friends would become a godparent for each other's children, thus cementing their friendly ties. But some unscrupulous people might try to find godfathers among the wealthy and powerful for personal gains.

A simple ceremony is usually held to take a godparent, and relatives and friends are invited to a banquet to celebrate the establishment of the tie. People who are invited normally bring gift coupons on which they write auspicious words, such as "Joys of Formation of Friendship". They may also bring a carved mirror screen as a gift. Godparents are required to give a name to the children and place a "longevity chain" (ancient coins strung together with a red thread) around the neck of the children. Affluent godfathers might give gold plates bearing the inscription of "safety and longevity" to the children.

As a special historical custom, some parents might try to find female dung cleaner as the godmother for their children. Once there was a female dung cleaner who served as a godmother for more than 30 boys. And her home was always packed with her godsons during holidays. Dung cleaning was considered the dirtiest job for a woman, and night soil basins used by women, nicknamed "gold buckets", were considered to be able to scare off ghosts. Thus, female dung cleaners were believed to have a terrifying effect on ghosts. Historically, to protect their children against evil spirits, parents would find a formidable female dung cleaner as a godmother for their children, hoping that she would protect the kids so that they would grow up to be healthy adults.

In the Guangfu region, various gods and goddesses were worshipped as godparents as well. In the region, people paid tribute to towering banyan trees, hoping that their children would grow as robustly as the trees and be free of ailments. People also paid respect to goddesses, hoping that their daughters would be clever and deft. On the birthdays of the tree god, sacrificial ceremonies were held as a gesture of gratitude.

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