Chinese historian Liang Qichao claims that China, Babylon, India, and Egypt are among the Four Ancient Civilizations (1900). It has a 3,600-year history recorded in writing, a wide and diverse geographic area, and a profoundly rich culture. Chinese culture is diverse, distinctive, and beautifully merged; it is a priceless gift to the world.
Information in our China culture guide is broken down into categories: Traditions, Heritage, Arts, Festivals, Language, and Symbols. China’s Spring Festival, Kungfu, Beijing opera, World Heritage sites and Chinese cuisine are just a few of the subjects covered.
The religion of Chinese People
The Chinese Communist Party, which controls the country, is officially agnostic, yet, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, it is increasingly becoming more accepting of religions. There are now just five recognized faiths. Even though the Chinese constitution guarantees religious freedom, only Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism are permitted. Only in the last several decades has the acceptance of religion begun to advance gradually.
Taoism, Confucianism, and other traditional faiths are practiced by around 25% of the population. Buddhists, Muslims, and Christians are also present in tiny numbers. Since the early 19th century, many Protestant and Catholic ministries have operated in the nation, although little success has been achieved in converting the Chinese population to these religions.
New year Tradition in China
According to the Chinese zodiac cycle, each Chinese year is linked to a particular animal sign. The Water Rabbit, especially, rules the year 2023. In Chinese culture, the sign of the rabbit represents harmony, longevity, and wealth. The year 2023 is expected to be one of optimism.
The new year holiday is usually celebrated for 16 days, starting on Chinese New Year’s Eve and ending with the Lantern Festival. In 2023, the first seven days—from January 21 to January 27—are all public holidays.
Although regional traditions and rituals differ significantly, they all revolve around saying goodbye to the previous year and wishing the new one success and prosperity. The principal Chinese New Year celebrations include: Putting up decorations, making sacrifices to the gods, gathering for a New Year’s Eve feast with relatives, exchanging presents and red envelopes, setting off fireworks, and watching lion and dragon dances.
Significant dates in China
The following are significant dates or Chinese public holidays. The precise dates of several traditional events may change each year since they follow the Chinese lunisolar calendar.
- New Year’s Day – January 1 Laba Festival – Occurs annually, often in January
- Chinese New Year/Spring Festival – varies yearly and lasts 15 days, often in late January or early February.
- Each year, the date of the lantern festival varies; it often occurs in early March.
- Women’s Day is on March 8.
- Every year varies but often occurs in early April. Qingming Festival/Tomb-Sweeping Day
- May 1 is Labor Day.
- Children’s Day is June 1.
- Every year, generally in June, the Dragon Boat Festival varies.
- July 1 marks the founding anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party.
- Every year, generally in August, the Double Seventh Festival varies.
- Mid-Autumn Festival varies yearly but often occurs in late September or early October.
- October 1st until the 7th is National Day.
- Chongyang Festival: Every year varies but often occurs in October.
Language of Chinese People
According to Mount Holyoke College, the Chinese language is divided into seven primary dialectal groupings, each with its own subgroups. 71.5 % of the population speaks a dialect of Mandarin, with the next most common dialects being Wu (8.5 %), Yue (commonly known as Cantonese; 5 %), Xiang (4.8 %), Min (4.1 %), Hakka (3.7 %), and Gan (2.4 %).
Many dialects of China are pretty diverse from one another. “In many ways, the Romance language family in Europe and the Chinese dialectal complex are similar. The dialects of Peking [Beijing] and Chaozhou are likely as different from one another as Italian and French are from one another, to use an extreme example.”
Ptnghuà, a dialect of Mandarin spoken in Beijing, is the official national tongue of China, as stated in the Order of the President of the People’s Republic of China. The English language is widely spoken among Chinese people.
Communication ways of Chinese People
Chinese folks frequently communicate more indirectly. For instance, saying “no” may be difficult for many individuals since it is seen as embarrassing and a “loss of face” for both parties. For Chinese people, maintaining high status in front of others or “saving face” is crucial. Chinese people typically give others admiration and respect instead of acting inappropriately or putting others down. In this sense, it is uncommon for someone to criticize their flaws or errors personally.
It might be challenging to discover the actual thoughts and sentiments of Chinese people since they prefer to avoid disagreement to preserve peace. Chinese nonverbal cues like posture, tone of voice, and facial expression can be valuable clues to someone’s genuine intentions.
Food in Chinese culture
Chinese food has a wide range of flavors and textures and is delicious and diverse. Typically, Chinese dinners include a meat dish, rice, noodles, and veggies. Traditional Chinese meals may include jiaozi (dumplings with pork, chives, and onions), Peking duck (roasted duck coated with sweet wheat sauce and wrapped in a thin pancake), Mongolian hotpot, a Chinese version of fondue, and delectable teas.
Tea has assimilated into Chinese daily life in a similar way to how coffee has in the West. Chinese streets are littered with teahouses, much like Western cafés. In China, “Tea Culture,” which consists of essays, poetry, and images illustrating the skill of brewing and enjoying tea, has gained enormous popularity.
Being a vegetarian in China may be particularly difficult since meat is frequently added to dishes to add taste even when it isn’t really in them. Chinese cuisine includes animal parts such as feet, skulls, livers, and certain insects.
Etiquette in China
- With two hands, give and receive everything.
- As tipping is something a superior does to an inferior, it is seen negatively.
- In China, interacting with others properly always involves demonstrating regard for older people. While speaking with an older adult is customary to bow slightly and talk quietly. Never argue with an older adult’s counsel or opinion. Rebutting them or talking back to them is viewed as quite impolite.
- Especially when seeing someone for the first time, the Chinese are frequently on time and typically appear at the appointed hour. Chinese people typically place less emphasis on being on time for social events or meetings with friends and family.
- Typically, invitations are used in formal contexts. At times, visitors will show up unexpectedly.
- Chinese people are usually on time when they are invited to someone’s home.
- Visitors are asked to use restraint and avoid making loud, raucous noises.
- While visiting, friends frequently offer treats like tea, cigarettes, fruit, chocolates, or cake to the host as a sign of their “xin yi” (‘blessings’ or ‘well intentions’).
- Often, hosts include snacks like fruit or almonds. If visitors refuse the invitation, hosts will frequently nag them again before giving up.
- Dining table manners demonstrate respect for the social order of ages.
- There are several items to be eaten with rice, and food is frequently put in the middle of the table.
- Put the meals that go with rice in your rice bowl, and while you eat, keep the bowl near to your lips.
- While dining as a visitor in someone’s house, it is customary to sample everything that is put on the table.
- Consuming a lot of rice in a meal without other complementing meals suggests that you prefer to avoid it.
- Never consume the final item on a serving platter.
- Refuse the host’s offer once before accepting it if you desire a second serving.
- After you are done eating, leave a modest bit of food on your plate. If your plate is empty, the host did not provide enough food, and you should request another refill.
- Any bones or seeds should be in the supplied dish or on the table beside your plate. Don’t re-add them to your rice dish.
- Chopsticks should not be left in the rice bowl after use. Set them down on the table.
- Be careful while using chopsticks in a dish of rice. This suggests death since it is said to mimic the incense used at funerals.
Gender Roles in Chinese culture
The father or eldest son was the patriarch and family provider throughout the traditional home structure. Although some families may have delayed consulting their elders, he was the final arbiter. The mother’s traditional responsibilities included caring for the household and the kids. Often, the immediate family shared living space with the extended family. Even days, only extremely remote regions still employ this home structure.
Since gender equality has gained acceptance, women may now hold positions of power in the home and the workplace. In some large cities, like Shanghai, women may rule the home more than men. In addition, many women in big cities will try to ease their husbands’ financial burdens.
Nonetheless, there is still a gender imbalance in both industry and politics. Also, women are frequently expected to care for the home and children. Women are the head of the home and the main decision-makers in some Chinese societies, which follow a matriarchal family structure.
Marriage and Dating in Chinese Culture
Most Chinese people anticipate getting married, largely because they value their families above everything else. Marriage is frequently viewed as a step toward becoming an adult. Virginity is still occasionally required in Chinese marriage, and the bride’s husband and family may request documentation.
For many Chinese people, socioeconomic status is a critical factor in selecting a mate. In China, men and women must be at least 20 years old before marriage. The Chinese government promotes later marriage to slow down population growth, and individuals who wed earlier than allowed lose out on certain privileges.
Young people cohabiting before marriage is also on the rise, and many of them hide it from their more conventional parents. When a couple agrees to get married, they initially, without a ceremony, sign a legal contract at a local government office. Following the ceremony, a sizable celebration is held with the families and friends of the bride and groom. Depending on the family and its customs, there could be additional ceremonies.