Culture Of China: Traditions, Customs, Gastronomy, Music

The  culture of China  is a mosaic of ancestral traditions of more than five thousand years of history that continues to amaze those who come to know the mysteries of this Asian country.

Its citizens have spread throughout the world taking with them a part of their legacy, so their culture is increasingly established in nations with a lifestyle totally different from those of the Chinese community.

They are a people who profess great respect for their traditions, their ancestors and family. They are also very spiritual, superstitious, and frequently look to the stars for guidance.

Conformation of China

With an area of ​​9,596,961 km², the People’s Republic of China ranks fourth among the largest countries in the world, only surpassed by Russia, Canada and the United States.

It has 23 provinces, including Taiwan, which is still considered by China as a disputed territory; 5 autonomous regions, two special administrative regions and its capital, Beijing, also known as Beijing.

government

The country is governed by three power structures: the Communist Party, the State, and the Army. The positions in each of these areas are the General Secretariat of the Party, the Head of State or Presidency and the Central Military Commission.

Currently these three positions are held by the same person, Xi Jinping, in order to avoid the power struggle, as has happened on other occasions when one of the leaders has revealed himself against another.

The Communist Party has a presence in aspects of everyday life such as workplaces or schools; and the direct vote does not exist, since the National Popular Assembly is the only organism in charge of the presidential election.

Traditions

If we look at the traditions in China, we can see that those that are still preserved are linked to the family, ancestors, harmony, the ancestral mythological vision, in addition to the closing of cycles. Precisely with this last aspect we begin our list:

The Chinese New Year

Contrary to Western custom, the Chinese New Year is not celebrated on December 31, but on the first day of the first lunar month, based on the lunar calendar that varies from year to year. This could be established between January 21 and February 20, according to the Gregorian calendar.

This holiday is a family event that unites all of China and produces one of the largest internal migratory movements in the world, as people travel to their place of origin to reunite with their loved ones.

The Chinese New Year lasts for fifteen days, the longest holiday in China, and includes family dinners, parades and shows. For that occasion, red envelopes with money are given away and temples are visited to pray for the deceased.

The celebration culminates with the Lantern Festival that is celebrated throughout the country with the exhibition of lanterns made with paper and bamboo. In some areas, lanterns are also launched into the sky to ask for good luck and prosperity for the new cycle that is beginning.

Marriages in China

In the past, the union between a man and a woman was the work of matchmakers and, although today each person chooses their partner, marriage continues to be a ritual of great importance for Chinese society.

When a man wants to get engaged, his family intervenes by sending gifts to his girlfriend’s family. If these gifts are accepted, then a formal commitment is in place and all the wedding preparations can begin.

The color red is one of the protagonists during traditional Chinese weddings where men and women wear this color in typical costumes with multiple applications. However, times have changed and it is increasingly common to see brides in the western white suit.

Chinese funerals

There is a law that promotes the cremation of bodies, but the old tradition that is still followed by many people in rural areas is the practice of burial of mortal remains.

Those attending the ceremony dress in white, chocolate coins are distributed, candles are lit and fruits are left on the grave, along with the photograph of the deceased.

Qingming Festival

Also known as the Day of the Dead or Day of the Tombs, Qingming is a three-day period that the Chinese use to honor their deceased.

In this ceremonial activity, which occurs from the first day of the fifth solar period, a strong migratory process is generated again, since most of the people return to their place of origin to pray, clean the tombs and make new offerings.

During the Qingming festival, which dates back more than two thousand years, willow branches are placed on the doors to ward off evil spirits that roam the land.

China National Holiday

This event commemorates the anniversary of the announcement of the founding of the People’s Republic of China promulgated on October 1, 1949 by the leader Mao Tse Tung (1893-1976).

For this reason, every October 1 and for a week, the government promotes a series of activities that include military parades, concerts and fireworks throughout the country.

Chinese dragon 

This important figure in Chinese mythology represents power and good luck, so it is common to see it represented in emblems of imperial dynasties or in various festivals such as the Chinese New Year.

It differs greatly from the European dragon, since the Asian dragon is made up of nine animal parts: snake tail, deer horns, catfish whiskers, lobster eyes, lion’s mane, camel snout, eagle claws, nose of dog and fish scales.

Custom

Chinese tea

As it is an ancient culture, most Chinese customs are also part of ancient traditions, an example of this is the Chinese tea ritual.

Although its use was initially medicinal, over time it became a social link. Currently this warm drink is served in restaurants and tea houses to share with friends and family, being green tea, red tea and oolong tea among the most consumed.

social habits

– The Chinese tend to take off their shoes when entering any house, be it their own or someone else’s.

– In China it is rude to point with a finger. If it is inevitable to do so, the most accepted is to use the whole hand with the palm up.

– During birthday parties it is customary to consume noodles so that the birthday boy has a life as long as the length of this type of pasta.

– The Chinese are very superstitious, and among the things they consider unlucky is celebrating certain birthdays. In the case of women, they prefer to ignore their 30s and 33s, while men avoid their 40s.

Chinese curiosities

– Pale skin is important for Chinese women. That is why some of them wear masks to take care of their skin while bathing on the beaches. They say this protection also keeps them away from jellyfish stings.

– They drink hot water with meals, as they ensure that heat helps dissolve fats in food and this facilitates digestion.

– In some regions, they eat pineapple in a very particular way, dipping the slices first in salt water.

– The Chinese tend to take frequent naps, even at work.

– In China, children are not born at zero years, but at one year. The first month of birth is celebrated as a very important event, as well as her first hundred days and her first year, which, for its purposes, is the celebration of her second year of life.

Gastronomy

Chinese cuisine is characterized by the use of vegetables, seafood, as well as cereals such as rice, wheat and corn.

Its gastronomy is widespread around the world due to the great migration of Chinese throughout history and the number of people who decided to establish a restaurant in the country chosen to settle.

There is no doubt that wherever we go there is a Chinese restaurant, but really, do these places serve the same dishes as in China? We leave the answer to your consideration, after reading the following list of Chinese dishes.

Shark fin soup

To achieve this dish, the shark fin is cooked after going through a drying process, and then boiled with pork or chicken, egg white, ginger and soy sauce.

Lo mein

These are noodles boiled and later sautéed in a wok with beef, seafood or chicken, ginger, onion, carrot, cabbage, sugar and soy sauce.

Sweet and sour carp

This is a fish served in a very showy way, seasoned with garlic, spices, sugar and vinegar.

Dim sum

They are popular steamed or fried buns that are filled with meat, vegetables or seafood. They are consumed accompanied by a good tea and a pleasant conversation.

Tom yuen

These are rice balls filled with mango and covered with fruit.

Pekingese lacquered duck

This dish goes through an elaborate process before reaching the table. A duck without guts is inflated like a balloon to separate the meat from the skin. Subsequently, it is passed through the fryer and then covered with molasses and roasted on a skewer until crisp.

When using chopsticks

There are certain rules of etiquette for the use of chopsticks used for eating. These should hold the food, but never come into contact with the mouth.

It is also not advisable to sink the chopsticks into the food vertically. This action would be considered disrespectful, since this is the way in which these utensils are placed in the food prepared as an offering for the deceased.

It is not recommended either to cross the chopsticks on the plate when they are not being used, much less to prick the food with them.

Music

Because it is a country with a millenary culture, the origins of Chinese music are as old as its history and opera and traditional music are its main representatives.

These musical genres are accompanied by indigenous instruments that reproduce a wide variety of unique tones in the world. Among them we can mention wind instruments such as the bamboo flute, the sheng, the suona and the xiao.

Among the musical instruments that use the use of bow, the banhu and the matouqin stand out, not to mention the stringed instruments represented with the guquin and the guzheng. Drums are also common in traditional Chinese music, in addition to the well-known gong.

Over time, music has evolved and allowed the arrival of foreign influences. Genres like pop or rock are listened to, although with certain restrictions by the Chinese government.

Religion

The main religion followed in China is Buddhism, a philosophical and spiritual doctrine that promotes liberation from hatred, greed, and ignorance.

There is also a significant number of people who profess their faith for Taoism, as a philosophical system of solidarity between man and nature; and by Confucianism, which highlights optimistic humanism, moral conduct, respect for the family, and social harmony.

In addition to these, there is also the so-called traditional Chinese religion, which is characterized by having a wide set of divinities that accompany man in various aspects of his life, such as work, family and wealth.

As in any part of the world, there is a considerable presence of atheists in the Chinese territory and of other minority religions followed by people from other nations.

China in detail

– It is the most populous country in the world, representing 18% of the inhabitants on planet Earth.

– The Great Wall of China has an extension of 21,196 kilometers. It was designated in 1987 a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

– Environmental conservation efforts in China have allowed giant pandas to be excluded from the red list of endangered animals.

– Ping pong is the most popular sport in China, where at least 300 million people practice it.

– You may not have known that the famous Chinese fortune cookies are not typical of the Asian country, but come from the west coast of the United States.

– Officially in China there are 56 ethnic groups, with their own customs, language and culture.

References

  1. Customs in China. (2019). Taken from actuality.rt.com
  2. Chinese gastronomy. (2019). Taken from cultura-china.com
  3. Chinese traditions. (2019). Taken from chinaservice.com.mx
  4.  What is the lantern festival in China? Taken from telesurtv.net
  5.  What is the Quingming festival? (2019). Taken from dignitymemorial.es
  6. China National Day. (2019). Taken from itl-chino.com

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