The Chinese call their country Zhong Hua Ren Min Gong He Guo or Zhong Guo. Chinese culture (Zhong Zuo Wen Hua in Chinese) is one of the oldest cultures in the world, and it is one of the Four Ancient Civilizations (the other three are Babylon, India, and Egypt) based on the Chinese scholar Liang Qichao (1900). China has 3,600 years of written history as well as a rich and profound culture. Also, the country covers a large geographical region in eastern Asia (Read more about General Facts about China), and the traditions and customs of Chinese people vary by ethnicity and geography. The traditions of the country differ even between provinces, cities, towns, and even villages. Learn about Chinese culture by exploring the important components below:
- Traditional Festivals
- Martial Arts
- Religions and beliefs
In China, people celebrate festivals in both ancient and modern times. The eight major Chinese festivals celebrated today are Chinese New Year (Spring Festival), Lantern Festival, QingMing Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, Double Seventh Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, ChongYang Festival, and Winter Solstice. The largest festival is Chinese New Year, which marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year. It is the most important festival because family members come home from different parts of the world and eat dinner together. Chinese New Year falls between mid-January and mid-February. Also, all of the eight traditional festivals are calculated based on the lunar calendar (Chinese calendar). Learn More about Traditional Chinese Holidays and Festivals
Eight Traditional Chinese Festivals
– Chinese New Year (Spring Festival)
– Lantern Festival
– QingMing Festival
– Dragon Boat Festival
– Double Seventh Festival
– Mid-Autumn Festival
– ChongYang Festival
– Winter Solstice
More about Chinese Festivals
– Traditional Festivals are Based on Lunar Calendar
– 10 Interesting Facts about Chinese New Year
– Chinese Dragon Boat Festival (Detailed Description)
– 10 Interesting Facts about Dragon Boat Festival
Identity – Chinese Ethnic Groups
There are more than 1 billion people in China, and they are represented by 56 ethnic minority groups. Han Chinese is the largest group with about 900 million people. Other groups include the Tibetans, the Mongols, and Naxi, and the Manchus with fewer than 3,000 people. Throughout history, many small ethnic groups have merged into neighboring groups and slowly disappeared. At the same time, many minority groups and many within the Han identity have maintained distinct linguistic and regional customs and traditions. Together with the Han people, the minority groups are making great efforts to build a prosperous China. Learn more about Chinese Ethnic Groups
China covers a large geographical area in Asia, and within the country, each region is divided into different sub-cultures. Each region is represented by three items. For example GuangDong (Canton) is represented by aged ginger, ChenPi, and hay, and the place HangZhou is represented by tea leaf, hickory nut, and shoot trunk.
Most Chinese social values derived from Confucianism, and Confucius was a Chinese scholar, teacher, and philosopher who lived in the Shangdong, China. Chinese society was based on the Confucian code of behavior, meaning a deal person showed the characteristics of loyalty, honesty, courtesy, courageousness, and wisdom. Throughout the Imperial China’s history, Confucianism was the official philosophy, and the mastery of Confucian texts was the primary criterion for entering the imperial bureaucracy. Today, Confucian philosophy still has worldwide influence. In recent years, many Confucius Institutes have been established throughout the world (the United States, United Kingdom, France) to teach Chinese culture and the Chinese language. Learn more about Chinese Core Values
Chinese art is visual art that originated in China and practiced in the country by artists. Chinese art is an important component of Chinese culture, and it is one of the oldest and continuous traditions in the world. People in ancient China produced many types of beautiful and gorgeous works of art, and different eras and different dynasties had their specialties. Chinese art is also greatly influenced by the country’s philosophers, teachers, religious figures and mystical history. The Chinese traditional arts are famous, and they include calligraphy, architecture, porcelain, sculptures, and paintings. These works of arts are not only a vivid reflection of Chinese culture, but also the embodiment of the local people and of the nation itself. Also, many sculptures and paintings depict spiritual figures.
Learn More about Arts
– Chinese Calligraphy
Martial arts (KungFu or WuShu in Chinese) is an important part of the culture, and it involves a series of fighting syles such as Emei, Taichi, Qigong, Shaolin, and Wudang. ShaoLin Monastery and WuDang Mountains are the well-respected places to learn KungFu. The purpose of learning martial arts has shifted from survival and warfare to art. Many Chinese people practice KungFu for the purpose of health, self-discipline, and self-defense. Also, Chinese Kung Fu promotes virtue and peace, but not aggression or violence. Two of the famous and renowned martial artists who promotes this kind of virtue are Wong FeiHung (a Chinese martial artist, physician, and acupuncturist) and Yip Man (a Chinese martial artist and had several students who later became martial arts teachers in their own right). Learn more about Chinese Martial Arts
The flag has a red background with a yellow star in the upper left-hand corner and four small yellow stars in a crescent formation to its right. The color red symbolizes the revolution. The large star represents the leader or the communist party, and the four small stars symbolize the Chinese people.
The Chinese have also created many symbols to express their values that are important to them. These symbols include dragon (the main symbol of the nation and dragon dance in Chinese New Year), Shou (long life), Fu (happiness), Shou (long life), phoenix (imaginary bird that represents peace and summer harvest), Unicorn (symbol of wisdom), tortoise (strength and long life), lion (guards) and the Great Wall (oppression and civilization).
The Chinese language known as Mandarin is the official language in China. There are other languages spoken in China, which are Wu, Yue (Cantonese), Min Nan, Xiang, Hakka, Gan. These languages are classified as dialects for sociological and political reasons. In addition to these dialects, there are thousands and thousands of sub-dialects spoken in China, and people in different areas and regions have developed their own dialects over time. The interesting thing about the Chinese languages is that they are mutually unintelligible, which hinder verbal communication with people from different regions of China. However, Mandarin and the non-mutually intelligible dialects use the same writing system, which helps communication in written form. Learn More about the Chinese language
More about the Chinese Language
– Chinese Names
Religion and Beliefs
Chinese religion was originally oriented to worshiping the supreme god Shang Di. A large part of Chinese culture is based on the notion that a spiritual world exists. Some of the most recognized holy figures include Guan Yin, Jade Emperor, and Buddha. Also, many of the Chinese traditional festivals are based on ancient myths and stories about these supernatural figures. In addition to worshiping these figures, Chinese people also worship their ancestors, which are believed to possess power to help their living descendents.
In 1949, the Chinese Communist Party did not allow Chinese people to practice any religion. In 1982, the Chinese government declared that all citizens were allowed religious freedom. Currently, the main religions in China are Confucianism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity, Catholicism, and Protestantism.
Different social classes in different eras have different fashion trends, and the color yellow and red is usually reserved for the emperor. During the Qing Dynasty, China’s last imperial dynasty dramatic shift of clothing, which is Cheongsam or QiPao. The clothing of the era before the Qing Dynasty is referred to as HanFu (traditional Han Chinese clothing).
Chinese architecture can be found from over 2000 years ago, and it is a hallmark of Chinese culture. There are certain features common to Chinese architecture, regardless of specific region. The common feature is the emphasis on width, as the wide halls of the Forbidden City.
More about Chinese Architecture
– 10 Interesting Facts about the Great Wall of China
The overwhelming large variety of Chinese cuisine comes from dynastic period, when emperors would host banquets within over 100 dishes per meal. A countless number of imperial kitten staff was involved preparation process. Over time, many dishes became part of the everyday-citizen culture, and one of these dishes is Beijing Roast Duck, a tasty meal of crispy duck slices on thin pancakes. It used to be eat only by the emperor, and everyone can enjoy it. Today, a Chinese meal has two major components, which are Fan and Cai. The Fan component consists of starches and carbohydrate. The Cai component consists of meat and vegetables. Also, steaming and stir-frying are the most common ways to cook food in China. Still, cuisine is heavily influenced by the geography and ethnic diversity. Learn more about Chinese Food
More about Chinese Food
– Facts about Chinese Dim Sum (Detailed Description)
– 10 Interesting Facts about Dim Sum
Leisure activities are an important part of the cultural life in China. A number of activities are popular within Chinese culture, and the most common activity is Mah Jong (136 tiles decorated with bamboo, circles, and characters). Other popular ones include PingPong, badminton, Pai Gow (played with a set of 32 Chinese dominoes), Pai Gow Poker (a variation of the Chinese domino game pai gow), Chinese domino games, WeiQi ( a board game involving two players), XiangQi (Chinese chess) and arts and crafts (DIY). Learn More about Chinese Leisure Activities