Surprising Facts About Chinese Culture, History, Customs & Traditions

2023-04-02 12:39

China’s culture stretches to the corners of the world through the overseas Chinese population and influence, but it can still seem a very different and mysterious culture.Chinese culture is a rich ta ...

China’s culture stretches to the corners of the world through the overseas Chinese population and influence, but it can still seem a very different and mysterious culture. 

Chinese culture is a rich tapestry melded with history from over 5,000 years. It’s no wonder the culture intrigues so many.

Before you visit China, knowing a bit about the Chinese culture facts will help you to delve into it further and find more to love about it!

Here are 16 fascinating facts that will help you understand Chinese culture.

1. Dating someone means it’s an exclusive relationship immediately
You might be surprised by the first Chinese cultural fact, but it’s the truth – when you are dating someone in China, that person automatically thinks this is an exclusive relationship.

This is very different from the dating culture in western countries where people enjoy casual dating a lot and then have an “exclusivity talk” later before commitment happens.

Therefore, if you’d like to date someone else in China, you have to end an existing “relationship” first.

2. Your friends may ask how much money you make

In China, it’s quite common to talk about money because money isn’t a taboo topic in the Chinese culture. Small wonder there are so many wealthy people in China – the Chinese don’t fear money!

Most westerners never talk about money. In fact, American money coach Ramit Sethi even says, “If you ask people to talk about money, the majority of westerners would rather talk about their s*x life instead.”

However, if you live in China, some of your Chinese friends may ask how much money you make per month – don’t be surprised by this unique Chinese culture fact!

3. There are 56 minorities in China
Outsiders are often surprised to find out that China has 56 ethnic groups that are recognized by the Chinese government.

The largest of them is the Han ethnicity, taking up over 90% of the population in China. Each ethnic group has its own customs, cultures, dress, and more.

4. The Chinese Zodiac has great importance

In Western culture, horoscopes might seem like a hippie thing to follow, but in China, the Chinese Zodiac is very highly-regarded by all.

Known as Sheng Xiao, it’s based on a 12-year cycle steeped in the Chinese lunar year system.

Every year of the cycle is associated with one of 12 different animals like dragon, horse, sheep, and snake, for example.

So, it’s time to check out what your Chinese Zodiac is if you are keen to know more about Chinese cultural facts.

5. Emphasis on the family is huge in China
Family is greatly valued in China, and perhaps one of the most important things here. 

“While many Chinese elders lament the fact that young adults born in the 1980s or later possess no clear moral compass or strong standards of behavior, no one in China has forgotten the importance of family.” From The Significance of Family in China, chinaculturecorner. 

That’s why even in the modern days, getting married and starting a family is almost non-negotiable, as is the regular gatherings with relatives to strengthen the family bond.

6. The Chinese tea is more than just a beverage  

Serving a hot pot of tea to visitors is a must when in China.

It’s also an integral part of socialization with others, much like Westerners meet friends or business contacts for coffee at Starbucks!

7. Chinese Kungfu comes in several styles
The ancient form of martial arts known as Kungfu is composed of a few different styles.

There’s Tai Chi, Qigong, and Shaolin. Not everyone in China is as skilled as Jackie Chan though many people do practice it for physical fitness.

Having said that, some Chinese are interested in coffee these days because they are curious about the West.

This is a new Chinese cultural fact.

8. Chinese calligraphy is art

Chinese calligraphy is more than just a form of writing.

It’s an art form in and of itself. Stunning to look at, these works reveal the deeper meaning of Chinese characters.

They make beautiful souvenirs from your time in China.

Plus, you can even take classes to learn how to do it too!

9. In China, food is life

Spend enough time in China, and the Chinese people you know will always ask you if you’ve eaten.

The cuisine is big here, and it’s more than just nourishment.

Food is just as much of art as it calligraphy is.

With different cuisine styles from every region, tasting your way around China and integrating yourself socially through food is a must.

10. Confucianism has a heavy influence
In Confucianism, respect for the rulers, elders, family, and creating social harmony are all extremely important. You’ll notice this influence in many things during your stay in China. 

Ha! This is good news for you – if you are going to teach English in China, people will respect you because you are a teacher.

It seems that Confucianism is a fantastic part of Chinese cultural facts.

11. Chinese festivals are everything

Especially during the Chinese New Year, the whole country halts and celebrates together.

The family becomes even more important and each festival has special customs that are adhered to, like eating dumplings or special foods for example.

12. Dragons aren’t scary in Chinese culture 
You’ll see Chinese dragons everywhere.

In Chinese culture, they are thought to bring power, wealth, success, and wisdom.

These are not the evil monsters they are portrayed to be in Western society.

13. The Chinese language has many dialects

Chinese, as we know it, is not a monolithic language. It has many dialects and variations, with some being significantly different between one another.

Subsequently, at times it might be difficult for speakers of divergent dialects to understand each other. 

Mandarin, also known as Putonghua, is the standard language in China.

Apart from Mandarin, there are countless dialects being used in different areas in China, such as Yue (Cantonese), Gan, Min, Wu, Xiang, and Kejia (Hakka) are also spoken by different segments of the Han people.

14. Cricket fighting as a sport has a very long history
China has a long history of appreciation for crickets (more than 1,500 years old).

They were pets in ancient times, and their singing has been historically considered one of nature’s most beautiful songs.

From August to October, it’s common to see street sellers surrounded by small jars containing male crickets bred for battle.

The popularity of this sport is so overwhelming, many experts study the habits of each cricket to determine the most powerful warrior. Some of them can be sold for over $100.

That being said, recently cricket fighting is less common in Chinese cities. Hopefully, this Chinese cultural fact won’t be lost in the future!

15. In China, never say never

Chinese culture values respect above all else, so the language can be quite ambiguous when it’s time to reject someone.

As such, it is important to understand the context of the situation and read the social cues that might be hiding between words.

For example, instead of expressing outright rejection, a Chinese person might change the topic or dodge the question altogether.

16. Table Tennis is a big deal in China

You can find tables everywhere: schools and parks are hot spots to play the sport, and almost every city or town has at least one team.

It is such a big deal that at least 10 million Chinese citizens play table tennis competitively, and the so-called Ping Pong Diplomacy used the sport to help the United States and China grow closer.

Chinese Culture: Summary
A lot of things can happen in over 5,000 years.  

A country that has existed for so long is bound to have a rich history, overflowing with culture and fascinating elements that have developed generation after generation.

With an understanding of these cultural facts about China, you’ll be well on your way to discovering the beauty of this unique culture!