Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Pet Crickets {With craft ideas and book recommendation}

Cricket hanging from rear view mirror in taxi
Photo credit: Afflicted Monkey
Keeping a pet cricket, or Jiao Ge Ge ("singing brother") is fairly common in China. Male crickets, considered lucky, are kept in a variety of cages and pots and enjoyed for their song. 

Merchant carrying hundreds of crickets in cages
Photo credit: Dharbigt Maersk
 Cricket keeping is believed to have begun 2000 years ago in the Imperial court. Crickets were companions to the emperors concubines, who were constricted to certain areas inside the imperial palace. 

Different cricket cages
Photo Credit: Jun
Crickets sold in Chinese markets are mostly caught in the wild, in remote provinces. Hunting crickets in rural China has become one of the ways to supplement meager incomes.

Photo Credit: Steve Easterbrook
Crickets are also kept for cricket fighting, a past time that has been popular for a thousand years. Bets are often waged on the fights, and winning crickets are prized. I was relieved to read that cricket fighting is no longer to the death, but until one cricket retreats, allegedly uninjured. 

Though I don't personally agree with goading creatures to fight, I can relate to the enjoyment of hearing crickets sing. Growing up, when visiting my grandmother, I would love to fall asleep to the sound of crickets in the yard. Would you keep a pet cricket?

How about making a cricket pet :) Ladies Home Journal has this cute cricket craft, with printable pattern for arms and legs. The popsicle stick and emery board are used to make your cricket "sing". 

Or how about looking for a real cricket? You can make your own cage using Handmade Charlotte's printable template.

You can also read The Cricket's Cage retold by Stefan Czernecki, a Chinese folktale in which a clever cricket brings luck to a carpenter by designing an intricate cage, which becomes the model for towers in the Forbidden city.

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