The Chinese New Year, the fortune cookies, the dragons or even the Chinese zodiac… are just some of the most iconic elements of the Chinese culture, but believe us, there are many other customs and traditions in China that you probably have never heard of them.
The culture of China has been formed through all its history, and although some of them have disappeared already, there are many other cultural traditions in China that are still happening nowadays.
Top 10 Chinese traditions
There are like a million unique things about Chinese culture, but it would take forever to talk about each of them, that´s why we have selected the most interesting ones.
Next, you will find the Top 10 things about Chinese culture:
🎊 1) The Chinese New Year
The spring festival, Lunar New Year, or as everyone recognises it, The Chinese New Year, is by far the biggest celebration in China.
It´s a 7-day festival that occurs during the second new moon after the winter solstice (generally between January 21st and February 20th). Each year is symbolized with an animal, and the 2020 (year 4717 for them) is the year of the rat.
As you can imagine, the spring festival is the most famous tradition in China, it is said that almost 1/6th of the world´s population celebrate this event every year.
🐲 2) What dragons mean in Chinese culture?
If you have been in China, or have watched Chinese movies, you may have realised that dragons are everywhere in China, and they are not shown as scary creatures like it happens in every other country.
The reason why this occurs, is because dragons are wisdom and bring luck for everyone who truly deserves it, they are a symbol of success in the culture of China.
You will see silhouettes and paintings of dragons in imperial palaces, tombs, and other important places.
🥢 3) Eating with sticks
One of the most representative customs of China is the fact that they eat with chopsticks. Most of us have been at least once in a Chinese restaurant and tried eating with chopsticks, but since when do they eat with them? Is it an old Chinese tradition? or it still happens nowadays?
Chopsticks began to be used a long time ago during the Han dynasty (280–233 BCE), at first they were jut an utensil used to cook or to serve the food, but during the Ming dynasty, they realised it was also useful for eating.
Nowadays, you can recognize them in China by the name of kuaizi.
🍵 4) Drinking hot water: One of the most famous traditions in China
One of the most popular traditions in China is drinking hot water…ALWAYS! The thing that surprises tourists the most is seeing Chinese people drinking hot water all the time, no matter if it´s winter or summer.
Although it´s a weird Chinese tradition for most of us, it´s way healthier than drinking cold water, and that´s actually the main reason why they do it.
Other than being one of those Chinese cultural beliefs, drinking hot water will help your blood to flow, while the cold water slows down the organ function.
We are used to see fortune cookies in movies as if they were Chinese, and that´s why we all think these cookies are part of the social customs in China, but I am sorry to tell you that they don´t have anything to do with China and its culture.
There are actually multiple theories on where do fortune cookies come from, while many people believe they are from either Japanese or Chinese immigrants who invented them while living in America, others say that it was David Jung who created them in Los Angeles.
☯ 6) The Chinese Zodiac
If you are trying to say all about Chinese culture, you can´t forget their popular Chinese Zodiac. The Chinese Zodiac is similar to the horoscopes, but in China is an ancient tradition instead of a hobby, and they take it much more seriously than what we all do in other countries.
Chinese Zodiac is known as Sheng Xiao and it´s a 12-year cycle where each year is represented with a different animal and its characteristics.
The 12 animals in Chinese culture are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig. As we said, the 2020 is the year of the rat.
我 7) Chinese calligraphy has become an art
The calligraphy is one of the most cultural elements of China, it´s known as Clerical script or “ 隸書”in traditional Chinese. Is impressive how it started to be used during the Han dynasty, and it lasted until the present.
The Chinese calligraphy is not just a writing style, or characters from a language, it´s an art that combines visual art with meaning of words and sentences. This calligraphy has such a huge history, that it has developed different forms and variations, for that reason Chinese people always say that they never finish learning their language.
Visitors from all over the world take classes of Chinese calligraphy as a tourist attraction when they visit the country.
🎎 8) Chinese engagement traditions
The Chinese wedding customs are also very different than in the rest of the world. Although nowadays, these traditions have changed a little bit and people don´t follow them as much as they used to, there are still some of them active in the present.
These were the steps to follow the wedding traditions in China:
- The parents hire a matchmaker, to go to another family and seek the proposal.
- Both families would go to a fortune teller who analysed everything (names, birth dates…) and see If the couple is compatible
- The third step consists of praying for good fortune
- Exchange of betrothal gifts (wrapped in red envelopes) that symbolizes prosperity and good luck.
- They make the invitations and get married.
👪 9) The importance of family in the culture of China
The structure of the family and each of its members are very important in the Chinese culture. From the marriage, to having children, the education of the younger ones or anything related to any family member matters.
Imagine how important is the family structure, that even after getting married or having children, grandparents still live under the same roof in many cases.
Getting together in every important event or have family gatherings regularly are very important to maintain the bound between each of the family members
☕ 10) Tea in Chinese culture: Not only a drink
The teas are only a drink in most of the countries, but in China they are not only the national beverage, but one of the most ancient and social Chinese customs, as each type of tea symbolizes something different.
Teas have a very important role on the social life of Chinese people, the way you drink it and the type of tea you choose to drink represent your social status. Plus, like going to the cinema or to a bar with friends, drinking tea is a way of meeting your friends in China.
Having a tea with your client is also a common way of finishing business transactions.
Other interesting facts about China culture
We have just told you about the top 10 Chinese customs, but there are many other interesting facts about China culture that we are sure you would love to learn:
🚶 Queueing in China
It´s probably not the most famous custom in China, but we must advise you before visiting the country that queueing in China is a little bit stressful.
The truth is that until some years ago when the world started to be more globalized, Chinese people didn´t really do queues to wait to go for a place, they would do anything possible to get there on first place.
Nowadays this is starting to change and in the most visited places you will find queues and everything much more organized. Be careful if you go to a not so popular areas, because again, not doing queues is part of the Chinese culture.
💏 Dating in Chinese culture
Another of the fun facts about Chinese culture is related to the dating process, as it´s way more different than in most of the countries.
The most important thing you should know before dating someone from China, is that as soon as you are dating someone, it instantaneously becomes a “serious” relationship. This also means for them, that the relationship is exclusive, and you can´t see someone else.
Another thing you should know about the Chinese dating culture is that parents are much more involved in the relationship and the first impression is the most important one.
🏮 The meaning of red color in Chinese culture
The flag of China, the walls of ancient palaces, the Chinese knot, or the famous lanterns, these are just some of the popular red things on the ancient Chinese culture, but why do they use red so much?
Using the red colour is one of those ancient and important traditions in China. The red color symbolizes luck, happiness, celebration, fertility, and many other good things.
For example, in their celebrations like the New year festival, you will see red dragons all the time, and the main reason is because it brings hopes and luck for the year to come.
🙌 Use of both hands on the business culture in China
Chinese people are very respectful when they are doing business. There are many acts that show how polite they can be, but one of the most common Chinese business customes is to give or receive the cards with two hands.
Using both hands and not just one is a way to respect your client. It also happens a lot when someone younger gives something to an older or more experienced person.
Hope you enjoyed reading the traditional customs in China
That´s all you need to know about the traditions and customs in China, as you have seen the Chinese culture is very special and different from the rest.
Hopefully this was useful for the understanding of Chinese culture, and also hope that you have enjoyed reading about the cultural things of China. If you have any other question or suggestion, please let us know.