Chinese Culture

Chinese culture has evolved over more than 5,000 years of customs, creating a complex system of etiquettes and respect that can be difficult to navigate without some research. Though basic customs are followed throughout the country, the many differing regions with their specific ethnicities have also each developed certain traditions and customs that are observed throughout society.

Chinese Customs/Traditions

Chinese Customs/Traditions
Chinese Customs/Traditions

Upon greeting anyone in China, shaking hands is a custom followed throughout the country. When communicating, it isn’t uncommon for Chinese people to speak fairly indirectly without verbalizing what they really mean. A deeper meaning is generally associated with their words and often what they say is very much the opposite of what they mean, which can become confusing. While communicating, usually only friends and family touch each on the arm or shoulder while strangers tend to stand a foot or two apart when speaking. Saving face, associated with many Asian countries, is, at its most basic, not losing your temper in public. This facet can get extremely complicated. Saving face is also referred to in matters of refusal and acceptance and telling “polite lies,” so as not to admit failure. Respect is always shown to elders.

A central aspect of Chinese culture is dining. Declining food politely is only accepted three times. Following those, the guest must try the food or drink offered so as not to be viewed as rude. Several other rules are best followed; don’t lay chopsticks over food, stick them into your dish, or point them at another person; tipping is often considered bad form; if someone says “gambei!” meaning “drink,” guests should at least take a sip of the beverage offered if not drink it all.

With a distinctly communal mindset, crowding is commonplace in China. Instead of lines, crowds will form around the desired object or location. In general, anything out of the ordinary is worthy of a look. Don’t be surprised to find a small crowd around any foreigner doing anything different, even if just speaking a few Mandarin words. Gratitude and respect is illustrated through gift-giving, which is customary when invited to someone’s home as is removing shoes upon arrival. Bargaining is expected when shopping, beginning with a 10-20 percent markdown on price. Finally, expect smoking, and plenty of it.

Chinese Food

Chinese Food
Chinese Food

The many styles of Chinese food have originated from the country’s many varied regions over thousands of years. Due to trade with nearby countries and imperial expansion, ingredients and cooking techniques have been integrated into Chinese culture. More recently, the modern world has also had great influence within Chinese cuisine.

Tastes and cooking styles also differ by ethnic background, class, and region. The Eight Culinary Traditions of China comprise the main styles and dishes in Chinese culture. These include Jiangsu, Szechuan, Shandong, Cantonese, Hunan, Fujian, Anhui, and Zhejiang cuisines. Some of the most famous Chinese foods include Cantonese Dim Sum, Szechuan Gong Bao chicken, dumplings, wontons, chow mein, and Peking duck. Staples include rice, noodles, fish, tofu, eggs, poultry, meat, and soup.

Chinese Religion

Chinese Religion
Chinese Religion

The most predominant religions in Chinese culture include Confucianism (a philosophical and ethical system more than a religion), Taoism, and Buddhism. Additional main religions include Islam and Christianity.

A smaller minority of Protestants, Mormons, and Jews also reside in China. As well, there are many indigenous religious among Chinese numerous ethnic minorities. It is common and acceptable to practice more than one religion.

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