Top 10 Interesting Facts About Chinese Culture and Tradition

10. Chinese Zodiac: Sheng Xiao

The Chinese have a zodiac system made up of 12 animals representing different years. The animal that represents the person’s year of birth is known as Sheng Xiao. The 12 animals are the rat, the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the sheep, the monkey, the rooster, the dog, and the pig. According to Sheng Xiao, the year of birth of people determines their personality, strengths, and weaknesses. Some Chinese predict their future, calculate marriage, and love compatibility. The Chinese zodiac dates back to the Han Dynasty. Since then, Shen Xiao has been accepted and used by many people as a crucial part of their Chinese culture, however, there is no scientific evidence that this is true.

2018 is the year of the dog according to the Chinese zodiac, while 2019 will be the year of the pig. Of all the years of the Chinese zodiac, the year of the dragon is considered the luckiest.


9. Chinese Language

Mandarin is the official language of China and also the most spoken language in China. The word “mandarin” comes from the Sanskrit word “Mantrin” which means minister. The Chinese language doesn’t have alphabets like most languages, but it does have thousands of characters, making it one of the most difficult languages to learn.

Some of the Mandarin characters are derived from actual shapes and landscapes that exist in China. For example, the character 山 represents three mountain peaks in China. The tone in which the speaker speaks Chinese is very important as many Chinese characters sound similar and their tone and pitch need to be adjusted to say the words correctly.


8. China and Confucianism

Confucianism was a socio-political movement in China that transformed the country’s belief systems, as well as its administration. Confucianism is a term derived from Confucius. Confucius was one of the greatest influencers of his time. Confucius believed that education for all is essential for establishing a social order in the state. He was one of the greatest teachers that history has known. At that time he had about 30,000 followers. In fact, many Chinese proverbs that we know today were given by Confucius.

China has many temples dedicated to Confucius and his teachings. The largest Confucius Temple is located in Qufu, Shandong Province. Confucianism has also spread to neighboring countries of China such as Japan, Vietnam, and Korea. Even today, many people around the world, including many Western countries, follow the principles of Confucianism.


7. Chinese Kung Fu

Kung Fu is an integral part of Chinese culture. There are different types of martial arts in China and Kung Fu is a common name given to them all. Kung Fu began in China during the Zhou Dynasty (1111-255 BC). It was also used in ancient China by people to fight beasts and animals.
Kung Fu actually means “Achievement through great effort”.

Chinese Kung Fu focused on enhancing the power of the body and mind of Shaolin monks. It was in the Shaolin Temple that the practice of Kung Fu began through the teachings of an Indian Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Kung Fu spread to movie screens and helped Chinese cinema gain wide acceptance. Bruce Lee’s Kung Fu-based films were all the rage in the West in the 1970s. Today, many people around the world practice and learn Kung Fu to maintain a healthy body and mind.


6. Han Chinese are the Majority

The Han Chinese are the largest ethnic group in the world. They represent about 92% of the Chinese population. The name “Han” comes from the “Han Dynasty”. During the reign of this dynasty, China experienced the “golden age” and also witnessed the construction of the Silk Road which aided traders and brought wealth. In fact, Buddhism and Confucianism arrived in China during the reign of the Han Dynasty.

Besides the Han, other ethnic groups in China are the Tibetans, the Zhuang, the Hui, and the Yao. China has also faced ethnic conflicts in the past. Tibetans form a community in Tibet. Tibet declared itself autonomous but was nevertheless invaded by China in 1951. Since then, the Tibetans have been fighting for their independence. Its leader, the Dalai Lama, was forced into exile in India in 1959.


5. Chinese Festivals

China has a rich tradition and many festivals are celebrated in China as part of the tradition. Many Chinese festivals have their origin in the Han Dynasty. Some of the most popular Chinese festivals are the Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival and the Dragon Boat Festival. Chinese New Year marks the start of February 16, which marks the start of the lunar year.

Chinese New Year is celebrated with great fervor and people stop doing business and working to join the family in the celebrations. As the Chinese New Year approaches, the Chinese are especially curious about the zodiac animal for that year and use it to predict the fortune.

The roots of the Dragon Boat Festival date back over 2,000 years when a scholar and poet committed suicide due to the corruption of his state. During the festival, people participate in boat racing competitions using longboats rowed by a team.


4. Religion

People of different religious beliefs live in China. Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Islam are some of the most common religions in China. 90% of Chinese citizens prefer to call themselves atheists. Buddhists are the largest religious community in China. Most of the Buddhist communities are in Tibet. Buddhism spread to China during the Han Dynasty period. Tibetan Buddhists have organized several peaceful protests against the Chinese administration for the freedom of their state of Tibet.

China is one of the few countries to have followers of Taoism. Followers of Taoism are mainly found in Hong Kong and Macau. Islam came to China from Arab countries around 1,300 years ago. China has many beautiful mosques that display Islamic architecture. Many Christians also live in China.


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3. Dragons

The Chinese dragon is an important symbol in China. Represents wealth, power, and leadership. The dragon is one of the animals of the Chinese zodiac. Every 12 years is the year of the dragon. The next Year of the Dragon will be in 2024. Dragons are featured during the Dragon Boat Festival. Dragon ships are sculpted to have dragon heads and tails. In fact, the dragon dance is very popular in China and can be seen in many of their films. This dance is also performed during Chinese New Year celebrations. The Chinese believe that people born in the Year of the Dragon are influential. Many leaders around the world, including Martin Luther, Vladimir Putin, and Deng Xiaoping, were born in the Year of the Dragon.


2. Family culture

Like most Asian countries, family values have great importance in Chinese culture. Young people are expected to respect and revere the elders of the family. For many years, male family members were expected to take on the role of decision-making, protection, and support of the family, while women had little say in important family decisions. In addition, ultimately, decisions such as weddings were also made by the male head of the household, with little consideration given to the couple’s romantic interests in getting married.

In addition, family members have their share of family assets and wealth.


1. Superstitions

These are some of the superstitions that are believed in China.

4 is considered an unfortunate number in China. It is pronounced “Yes”, which is similar to the pronunciation of “death” in Chinese. Therefore, Chinese people avoid saying the number 4 as much as possible. Some buildings in China do not have a fourth floor.
8 is an auspicious number in China and is often associated with wealth.
The pronunciation of “clock” in Chinese is the same as that of “end” in Chinese. This is the reason why people do not give each other watches.
The Chinese pronunciation of “pear” is the same as the Chinese pronunciation of the word “leave”. Therefore, it is advisable not to give a pear to friends as it is considered a bad omen.
Red is considered a lucky color in China.
Many Chinese couples expect their child to be born in the Year of the Dragon.