A Brief Introduction to China
1. Quick Facts about China
Situated in Eastern Asia, China ( Zhong Guo ) is short
People's Republic of China (Zhonghua Renmin
Gongheguo ) with its abbreviation as PRC. It consists of 23
provinces (sheng, similar to a state in the United States), 5
autonomous regions (zizhiqu), 4 municipalities and 2 special
administrative regions ( Hong Kong and Macao ). Taiwan is
considered as its 23rd province .
Contiguous states borders:
North- Russia, Mongolia
South- South China Sea, Vietnam, Laos, India, Burma,
East- the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, Japan, Korea
West- Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan
•Largest Administrative Division: Xin Jiang (autonomous region,
northwest of China)
•Smallest Administrative
administrative region )
Division: Macau ( the special
•World's third-largest country by size, after Russia , and Canada.
World's largest country by population.
•Population: 12.8453 million (2002 Census), 1,286,975,468 (July
2003 est.)
•Largest Cities: Beijing, Shanghai,
Guangzhou, Xi’an , Hong Kong.
National Flag of China
The Symbolism
The red color of the flag symbolizes revolution. The
large star represents the Communist Party. The smaller 4
stars represents the people of China.
The Colors
Red - red background
Golden yellow - a large golden yellow five-pointed star and four
smaller golden five-pointed stars arranged in a vertical arc toward
the middle of the flag in the upper hoist-side corner
Flag Design
China's national flag was adopted in September, 1949. This flag
was first flown in Tiananmen Square on October 1, 1949 - the day
of the founding of the People's Republic of China. It was designed
on the basis of the approved proposal provided by Zeng
Liangsong, a natural born amateur artist, keen on poetry, painting
and calligraphy.
National Flower
National Anthem
"March of the Volunteers"
All ye who refuse to be thrall-men!
Rebuild our new Great Wall from our very flesh and blood!
China's peoples now face their greatest of challenges,
Every voice must roar defiance to the last sound:
Arise! – Arise! – Arise!
Millions act with one will,
Brave the enemy's gunfire – March on!
Brave the enemy's gunfire – March on!
March on! – March on! – On!
2. The People and Etiquette
2.1The Chinese People
In General, on one hand, Chinese people are
industrious 勤 劳 的 , easily contented and peaceful.
They respect the elder, love the younger and believe
in harmony. On the other hand, they are reserved矜
持的and modest . However, due to the open policy to
the world, quite influenced by the western culture,
more and more Chinese people are becoming selfconfident , open-minded and ready to accept foreign
Family planning
Due to the enormous population in China, the current government has worked out a
family planning policy in order to have birth control in accordance with the wishes
of the masses. Late marriages and late child-bearing are encouraged so couples will
have fewer, but healthier babies, preferably one child per couple. Whereas a
flexible family planning policy is adopted for rural people and ethnic minorities. In
rural areas for exceptional cases, couples may have a second baby, but must wait
several years after the first child was born. As for ethnic minorities with extremely
small populations, a couple may have as many children as they want.
Now there is a common understanding of no sexual difference between a son or a
daughter, especially in the cities. In the meantime, a small happy nuclear (one child
with parents) family is more and more favored. Moreover, family planning has
helped Chinese women get rid of the burden of frequent childbearing and the heavy
family burden after marriage, thus raising women's status and improving the health
of both mothers and children. (F)
2.2 Common Etiquette in China
Etiquette - The set of rules or customs which control accepted
behavior in particular social groups or social situations.
Knowing the standard social behaviors will create a comfortable
atmosphere, whether in a social or a business situation.
Just as in other countries, regional variety in China has also strongly
influenced people's behavior. Traditionally, northerners and
westerners are considered to be more generous and passionate, but
more conservative; while southerners and easterners seem to be more
industrious, educated, and open-minded.
Today the south and east are more developed than the north and west;
therefore, southerners and easterners are likely to be more wealthy.
They are also more casual and flexible in their dress and manners than
the northerners and westerners.
Today people feel free to wear whatever they want, as long as they're not too absurd
or indecent. Clothing styles now have variety and are very colorful. It's rare to find
people on the street in big cities, or even small towns in China, wearing the same
style clothes or the same style clothing.
Due to the recent and quick economic development in China, there is less and less
difference in clothing styles between northerners and southerners.
Almost all Chinese women are afraid of the sunshine, because they think white skin
is more beautiful than sun-tanned skin. So in the summertime whenever the sun is
shining, they try their best to protect their bodies from the sunshine by holding a
parasol女用阳伞, wearing a hat or topee (遮阳帽), or a shawl披肩, even when
riding a bicycle.
Most business people are southerners and easterners. Though men dominate
business, today there are more and more women interested in going into business as
a profession.
Evening events and dinners are the most popular activities to help conduct business,
as well as improve the relationship between the business partners. Although there
are various modern means of communication today, many Chinese business people
still love to spend time with their business partners at dinners and for evening
entertainment. These activities are called "accompanying the business partner". By
spending this time on a nice meal and wonderful entertainment, rapport is built that
helps solve any business problems that may occur.
Business people are very busy not only in the daytime, but also in the evening and
sometimes even late into the night. Many spend very little time enjoying their family.
To them business is more important than their own families, which can make some
spouses very angry and annoyed. Business meetings are sometimes arranged as a
luncheon午宴 meeting, but dinner meetings are much preferred.
Business appearance
• In major cities, a business suit
and tie are appropriate. A dark colored suit,
with a white shirt, and a tie is the most common.
For a formal meeting in the summertime,
a businessman doesn't wear a suit. He
will wear light-colored trousers and a nice
long or short-sleeved shirt with a tie.
The tie is not worn for an informal meeting.
Businesswomen wear a dress,
or a skirt and blouse.
Behavior in communication
On formal occasions, a handshake is a common way of greeting when first meeting
someone. If the meeting is informal, people just nod to each other. Women, who are
not used to shaking hands first, are more passive regarding handshakes. And in the
country, women are too shy to shake hands.
Addressing one's boss or parents by only using the first name is considered impolite
and rude. First names are only common between friends and family members.
People like to be addressed by their titles, rather than simply as Mr. or Miss. For
example, both men and women prefer to be called "陈处长(Chen Chuzhang--Section Chief Chen)" instead of Mr. Chen or Miss Chen. All teachers are referred
to by the title " 老师(Laoshi --teacher) or 教授(Jiaoshou -- professor) " plus the
surname. So a teacher would be called "陈老师(Chen Laoshi-Mr. Chen)" or "陈教
授(Chen Jiaoshou --Professor Chen)". (continued)
Chinese women do not take their husbands' surnames, and young
women preferred to be addressed with Miss. For people who do not
have a title, they are generally addressed using their full names.
Business cards are generally exchanged during introductions. A
gentleman always carries a business card with his titles and business
information. Today it's rare that only a social card with just a person's
name is used, even at a social event.
Social Customs
People seldom hug each other when meeting, not even between close friends and
family members. And few people kiss in public; except nowadays, some of the
younger people are seen kissing.
"Ladies first" is not common in China as it is in the West. Few men will think of
"the Lady-first rule" in communication. Men will not help hold the door for a lady
when taking a lift, and will not help a lady take off her coat when entering a warmer
place from the outside.
Few Chinese men would ask the others beside them for permission before smoking
in public, especially in the rural areas.
When eating noodles or drinking hot soups, people will slurp which makes noise,
especially in the rural area. To Chinese slurping while eating indicates the person is
enjoying the food and thinks it's delicious.
Some people will answer their cellular phones and talk in a loud voice while having
a meal at a restaurant. This frequently happens in the rural areas. (continued)
When a guest is leaving a person's home, it's polite for the host to
accompany the guest out the gate and walk a few steps until the guest
asks the host to stop and go back home. Otherwise, the host will
continue to accompany the guest.
Gifts, especially for the children, are expected at the first visit to
someone's home. When receiving or giving things, both hands should
be used to be polite and show respect. Business gift giving is also an
accepted practice.
An offer may be declined several times for the sake of being polite.
The person offering the gift will ignore this polite decline, and
continue to offer the gift. In this way, the gift being offered is usually
politely accepted at last. So "no" doesn't simply mean no in China.
When receiving a compliment, a typical Chinese reaction is
to show modesty and humility by saying: “哪里,哪里(Na
li, na li --I am not so good)”, or “差得远(Cha de yuan--far
from good) ". Such attitudes towards any praise or
compliments are considered appropriate and regarded as
People do not use "thanks" and "please" as often as the
Westerners do. They are not used to apply them to the
family members or the people offering service, for they
think it is one's duty and responsibility to offer the help
among the family members, so is the service person's. (F)
Common topics
Since there isn't the privacy that's found in the West, people feel free
to ask almost any question without being offensive. The most
common topics are age, income, property, family life, especially
children, politics and religion.
When a purchase is made, Chinese people will often ask or voluntarily
tell the item's price in order to share the happiness of shopping.
Elderly people are highly respected in China, for "old" means
"wisdom and experience", the older the better. Males especially will
often ask about each other's age to show respect for the elder one. And
the elder one feels very happy to be addressed as " Lao (Old) " plus
Today, more and more Chinese women, who have been influenced by
the Western cultures, don't want to give their ages.
3. Gifts in China
Gift Giving
In China, gifts are always expected when a person is invited to dinner,
a birthday party, wedding ceremony, funeral ceremony, or a funeral.
They are also expected when visiting patients, friends, relatives, the
elderly, or anyone of a higher status. Also, gifts are given for various
Gifts containing even numbers instead of odd ones are favored,
because odd numbers are considered unfortunate. The number one is
especially bad as it suggests the giver is very stingy. (continued)
Interestingly, the gift's value is usually measured by its price rather
than its utility. And it's supposed to conform with the receiver's social
status, as well as the relationship between the giver and receiver. So
the more expensive and valuable the gift is, the better the relationship
between the two appears to be.
However, there is the exception, especially between very good or
intimate friends who might share almost everything, even simple food
and gifts.
Therefore, gift giving in China is a very delicate social activity which
can become burdensome to most Chinese people. Choosing a gift
requires considering lots of information about the receiver; so the gift
will be pleasantly accepted, rather than become an unexpected
annoyance. (continued)
Visit or dinner invitation
Generally speaking, when there is an invitation to visit or to have dinner at
someone's home, the proper gifts will be fruits, refreshments(点心) such as some
sweets, a local specialty from the giver's locale, children's toys, or some specialty
item purchased when traveling or away on business.
When attending a wedding ceremony, people used to bring bedding and household
articles to help lessen the bride and groom's financial burden. Now, due to the
improved standard of living, a new couple can afford to purchase all the items they
want for their new home. So it isn't necessary to present extra household articles or
Therefore, giving money as the wedding present has become more and more popular.
This not only satisfies the new couple; but it also helps the guest who saves time
having to choose a proper gift, which might not be an easy job. (continued)
When visiting patients, the most welcome presents are fruits,
flowers, or some tonic(滋补品).
Symbolizing happiness, niceness, auspiciousness(吉祥) and
love, flowers are regarded as one of the best gifts. For
example, a lily or twin lotus flowers on one stalk (symbol of
a loyal couple) would be a good gift for newly married
couple or a couple who are having their wedding
anniversary. (continued)
Inappropriate gifts
Some things are believed to be ominous and will bring bad luck to the
receiver, should not be given as gifts, especially on certain occasions.
Pears and Umbrella - For instance, in some places, neither pears nor
umbrellas are supposed to be given at a wedding ceremony, because
pears and umbrellas in Chinese are the homophonies (同音异义)
of another - the Chinese word meaning divorced or apart. This would
definitely annoy the newly married couple.
Clock - At a birthday party, especially for an elderly person, it is very
impolite and ominous to present a clock, which in Chinese means
death. (continued)
Presenting gifts
When giving a gift, it's customary to verbally depreciate it, even when
it's very precious and expensive. The person presenting the gift will
politely say,
"Sorry for the small gift!“
"I didn't intentionally buy this. I happened to have it at home."
"I am a bit ashamed to present you with such a small gift; but, please take it."
The reason the person giving a gift will devalue it, is to help the
receiver accept it without feeling pressured or awkward. This also
avoids the possibility of a host refusing to accept a gift, which would
cause the guest to "lose face".
Sometimes, to avoid embarrassment to either person, guests may put
the gifts in a corner or another 'out of the way' place in the house;
never mentioning them. (continued)
Accepting gifts
To be polite, the person receiving a gift will usually refuse to take it
and say,
"Please keep it for yourself.“
"Please don't spend so much money
"Such expensive gifts embarrass me!“
"I am afraid it's too expensive for me to take."
The person offering the gift will insist several times that the gift be
accepted before it is finally accepted with both hands and put aside.
Some hosts may even appear angry or insulted at having to accept the
gift, not wanting the guest to assume that the only reason he or she is a
welcomed visitor is because of the gift. (continued)
Opening gifts
Gifts are not opened immediately, but are opened only after the
visitors have left. This is done to show that the host is welcoming the
guests for themselves, not for the gifts. Opening a gift in front of a
visitor would be regarded as impolite and greedy, and the visitor
would think the host is only interested in the gift.
In addition, many gifts used to be presented without being wrapped.
But now, because of Western culture's influence, more and more gifts
are beautifully wrapped.
Also, when offering a gift, people usually tell the receiver what's
inside; which is also part of the reason why the gift is set aside and
isn't immediately unwrapped. (F)
4. Friendship in China
Every one has a friend no matter who he or she is. With friends, one's
life becomes colorful and meaningful; without friends life would be
boring and dull. Although people value friendship throughout the
world, Chinese people have expectations of a friendship that are
different from the concepts in a Western friendship.
In China, most people expect their friends to be there for them, and to
do for them, whenever they're in need. In other words, there's an
obligation within a friendship. People feel an obligation and a duty 'to
do' for their friends. There are many Chinese proverbs or sayings
concerning friendship, for example:
People would rather depend on their friends than their own relatives.
There is a saying, though not absolutely right, "One's wife could be
deserted like a set of clothes, while one's friend could not be
What's more, there is supposed to be no secret among close friends. It
is believed that one's business is the others', or the friends', business.
So among friends, almost everything except a wife can be shared.
Almost all topics can be discussed, including some very personal and
private things; such as personal income, wealth, age, health, family
life, expenditures, as well as emotional and financial problems.
It's believed that people's real friendships are tested in times of need.
As often happens people will get angry or hurt because their friends
didn't tell them the truth, or come to them for help when in need.
They're afraid of being neglected as real friends.
• (continued)
"为朋友两肋插刀" (Wei Peng You Liang Lei Cha Dao ---People can take any risks,
including risking their own lives - especially among male friends - to do everything
for their friends; even disregarding whether it is right or wrong.)
"有难同当,有福共享。" ( You Nan Tong Dang, You Fu Gong Xiang --Not only
happiness but also bitterness and hardships can be shared among friends.)
"一个篱笆三个桩, 一个好汉三个帮。" (Yi Ge Li Ba San Ge Zhuang, Yi Ge Hao
Han San Ge Bang--As one fence needs three stakes, a good guy needs three
" 在家靠父母,出门靠朋友。" ( Zai Jia Kao Fu Mu , Chu Men Kao Peng You -Parents are depended on at home, and friends are depended on when out.)
As shown above, friendship really counts and is very important to a person in
society. Having friends shows that a person has a good personality. The more
friends one has, the better personality he has and more sociable he is. (F)
5. The Magic of Chinese Food
The Magic of Chinese Cuisine
With a long history, Chinese cuisine is highly appreciated as a very sophisticated
and delicate art, with variety, uniqueness, and delicateness. It also has the four
distinctive features of colour, fragrance, taste and appearance.
Chinese food consists of four major schools with an enormous variety that differs
greatly from region to region. Each region has its own distinctive ingredients,
cooking technique, taste and style. The four regions are:
- LuCai (Shangdong Cuisine at the lower reaches of Yellow River)
- ChuanCai (Sichuan Cuisine at the upper reaches of Yangzi River)
- SuCai (Jiangsu Cuisine at the lower reaches of Yangzi River)
- YueCai (Canton Cuisine along Zhujiang River in the southern part of China)
Apart from the Chinese Han cuisines, there are other cuisines favored
by minority nationalities such as Islamic cuisine, Mongolian cuisine,
Manzu cuisine and Korean cuisine.
In addition, according to consumers, Chinese food falls into different
categories such as household cuisine, common cuisine, temple cuisine,
official cuisine, imperial cuisine, and medical cuisine.
Also, Chinese food can be classified as cold dishes, hot dishes, main
dishes, snacks小吃, refreshments点心, desserts and soups depending
on the form of the dish.
Preparation and cooking
Typical Chinese cooking features frying, roasting, sautéing(嫩煎),
braising(炖), stewing(焖), and steaming.
And the cutting of Chinese food, which plays a very important role in
the cuisine, varies greatly. It includes dicing切块, chopping剁, slicing
切薄片, shredding切条, and mincing绞碎.
There's an interesting saying about the ingredients used in the cuisine.
Though it may be a bit of an exaggeration, it says, "Anything can be
used for cooking, as long as it either flies in the sky, swims in the
water, or lives on the mountain."
• (F)
6. The Eating Habits in China
The main difference between Chinese and western eating habits is that
people in China sit around the table and share the food with each other;
while in the West, people only eat the food on their own plates. The
Chinese are very proud of their food, and if you're invited to a Chinese
meal be prepared for special hospitality and specific eating habits.
Chinese people are well known for their extraordinary hospitality to
guests. They will offer a magnificent meal, even if they are not rich
enough. If a person is poor, he or she will save the money needed by
having simple meals for a long time, in order to show hospitality and
generosity. So please don’t assume that every Chinese host is rich
enough to be able to offer you a feast. On many occasions, especially
in the country, the luxurious meal offered a guest would never be
eaten by the host; because the host simply couldn't afford to buy that
quality food for a normal family meal. (continued)
Number of dishes
There are normally eight cold dishes and at least eight hot dishes on
the table when formally inviting guests. If it is not as formal, then four
cold dishes and at least four hot dishes are offered. The number of
dishes depends on the number of guests. As a rule, the more
respectable the guests, the more formal the meal. There are more
dishes and more expensive food for each dish. Therefore, one might
sense the host’s hospitality, as well as the formality of the meal, by
counting the number of the dishes on the table.
However, this rule doesn’t apply among very close friends. There is a
Chinese saying: real friendship doesn’t count on having nice food,
such as the type of food given to fair weather friends; but on the
common interests shared; so friends can share anything, even simple
Usually Chinese hosts, who are not familiar with western culture, will continue
putting food into a bowl or onto a plate for a guest, as a way of showing their
hospitality and politeness. It’s the host’s responsibility to make sure a guest's bowl
is never empty, especially if that guest is highly respected and/or elderly.
The host will keep an eye on the food at the table, and as the guest's plate becomes
empty the host will refill it. Failing to keep food in the guest's bowl reflects poorly
on the host, who would be considered inhospitable, impolite and even stingy. One
can observe a host staying very busy during a meal, whether that meal is at home or
in a Chinese restaurant.
Because of this tradition, guests are not to initiate taking food that they would like to
eat. A guest who does this, not only has bad manners, but is considered greedy and
lacking education.
To be polite and show respect when the host offers food, take it using both hands. If
the host is the eldest, always stand while accepting the food with both hands;
otherwise remain seated when the food is offered.
When food is offered, the appropriate thing to do is to eat it, whatever
it is; and say how yummy(美味的) it is. If you feel uncomfortable
with this, you can just say a polite thank you and leave the food. But
keep in mind: the more food the guests eat, the happier the host will
be. (continued)
Dining Etiquette
Chopsticks - The chopsticks are not supposed to be stuck upright in a bowl of rice.
Lay them on your dish. According to Chinese customs, when somebody dies, their
shrine contains a bowl of sand or rice with two sticks of incense stuck upright in it.
So if chopsticks are stuck upright in a rice bowl, it looks like a shrine; and appears
as if you are wishing someone dead at the table!
Teapot - Make sure the spout of the teapot is not facing anyone, but setting so the
spout is just facing outward from the table. Having a teapot spout facing someone is
considered impolite.
Tapping one's bowl - Children are discouraged from tapping on their bowls with
their chopsticks, because beggars often tap on their bowls. Tapping one’s bowl is
regarded as an insult to the cook in the restaurant or the host in someone’s home.
Occasionally, some people will tap on their bowl when they are not satisfied with
the service in the restaurant, especially if it is too slow.
Slurping sound - Slurping the soup or the noodles is not considered a
bad eating habit in China. On the contrary, it shows that the person is
really enjoying the meal.
Drinking and Toasts - Just as continuing to offer food is a way to
express hospitality, drinking is also a means of being polite and
showing hospitality. So toasting and drinking alcohol can be observed
at almost all the banquets and meals in China, especially in the north.
Not drinking when the host or others offer a toast is regarded as being
impolite. Failing to participate does not allow the person offering the
toast to "save face".
7. National Celebrations and Holidays in
Like all the other nations, China now celebrates the same festivals of
New Year's Day, Labor Day (May 1st), Children's Day, and Women's
Day. Also, more and more people have begun to celebrate Mother's
Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day and Christmas Day as the
Westerners do. However, as a multinational country, China also has
its own traditional festivals, which are closely related to the customs,
religious beliefs, and moral principles of its multi-nations, especially
the Han. Although most national minorities have their own unique
festivals, they too share some of the most common ones with the
majority of Han people: such as Spring Festivals, Lantern Festival,
the Clear and Bright Festival and
7.1 The Spring Festival
Chung Jie (The Spring Festival )
Chung Jie, (the Spring Festival), is the most popular and important
festivity among the Chinese, just as Christmas is among Westerners. It
celebrates the New Year and occurs on the first day of the first lunar
month according to the Chinese lunar calendar, normally around the
early spring time of a year. It is also shared by some of the other
national minorities including the Manzu, Mongol, Yaozu, and
Zhuangzu. It was after the 1911 Revolution that the 1st of the lunar
month was officially named the Spring Festival.
The festival originated in China's history as an offering of sacrifices to
gods and ancestors at the beginning of each year during the period of
the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC). Due to its history, important and
various activities continue to remain in the festival today. (continued)
The Legend of Nian ( the Year)
The legend has it that in ancient China there lived a monster with a horn on its head
called Nian (Year). Nian was extremely ferocious and bloodthirsty, and often
appeared on New Year's Eve to devour the livestock like cattle and pigs, as well
as people. In order to avoid the calamity caused by the monster of Year, on every
New Year's Eve people would flee from their villages.
But on one New Year's Eve, an old beggar came and promised to get rid of the
monster in the village when the others left. Nobody believed him, and they went up
to the mountains and caves for protection.
Around midnight, the monster came to the house where the old beggar stayed, but
was quite scared at the red paper on the door and the sudden sound of exploding.
Finally, seeing the old man in a red robe, the horrified monster fled instead of taking
one step further. (continued)
The Legend of Nian ( the Year)
The next day the people returned and were surprised to find
the old man safe and sound. They realized the monster
feared the red colour, the flame and the exploding
firecrackers. They believed the old man was a celestial
being who had come to help them drive away the monster
by making red paper, red clothes, red candles, and setting
exploding firecrackers. Hence the custom on every New
Year's Eve of sticking red paper on the door (which became
red couplets), blowing up firecrackers, keeping every house
brilliantly illuminated, and staying up late into the night. (F)
7.2 Lantern Festival
Yuanxiao Jie (Sweet Dumpling Festival) / Denglong Jie (Lantern
The 15th day of the 1st lunar month is called Denglong Jie (Lantern
Festival) or the traditional Sweet Dumpling Festival as Yuanxiao Jie.
It is the first night when the moon is full after the Spring Festival, and
is an exceptionally grand occasion.
On this special evening, beautiful lanterns decorated with all kinds of
riddles and poems are hung on every house and building. Also, on the
street, there are many gorgeous performers who are walking on stilts,
performing the lion dance and dragon lantern dance, running land
boats, and setting off fireworks and firecrackers. (continued)
Yuanxiao Jie (Sweet Dumpling Festival) / Denglong Jie (Lantern
Traditionally it was only on this special occasion that ladies and
young girls, especially ones from the big and wealthy families who
were kept in their own rooms all day and discouraged from seeing any
men, were allowed to step out of their enclosed spaces, go downtown,
and enjoy themselves by watching the exciting street activities
or working out the riddles. Therefore, it was also a special occasion
for the temporary freedom of women in the past.
What's more, the sweet dumpling (Tangyuan or Yuanxiao) is the
typical traditional festive food with a history of over 1000 years in
China. Eating sweet dumpling on this festival symbolizes reunion,
harmony and auspiciousness of the family. (F)
7.3 The Clear and Bright Festival
Qingming Jie (The Clear and Bright Festival )
The Clear and Bright Festival falls around the 5th of April by the solar
calendar. At this time, the spring begins and all plants on earth start to
sprout with the freshness of the drizzling rain as well as the clearness
and brightness of the day; hence the name of the Clear and Bright
Festival. The day before the Clear and Bright Festival is the Cold
Food Festival.
The most important and prevailing festival activity for the people is
tending their ancestors' graves, therefore the festival is also called
Tending the Grave Day. In addition, going for an outing in the
country, flying kites, playing cockfighting and tug-of-war are also
very popular festivities. (F)
7.4 The Dragon Boat Festival
Duanwu Jie (The Dragon Boat Festival)
Duanwu Jie (the Dragon Boat Festival) is on the 5th day of
the 5th lunar month. This is widely celebrated among the
Chinese people. On this day, people go out to watch
fantastic boat contests either on the lakes and rivers or on
the land, and eat Zongzi, a special pyramid-shaped
dumpling made of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or
reed leaves.
7.5 The Mid-autumn Festival
Zhong Qiu Jie (The Mid-autumn Festival)
The Mid-autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th
lunar month, and is the second grandest festival next to the
Spring Festival in China. Since it is in the middle of autumn
when the moon is the brightest, clearest and most full, the
festival is named the Mid-autumn Festival.
The full moon symbolizes reunion in China so it is also the
time of family gatherings like the Spring Festival. Wherever
they are, people will try their best to go back home for the
family reunion on the exact day. Even if they can't, they will
leave messages to their families and try worship and enjoy
the same moon but in a different place. (continued)
Zhong Qiu Jie (The Mid-autumn Festival)
Enjoying or appreciating, rather than worshiping, the moon
in the mid-autumn has become one of the most popular
festivities in China, both at the imperial court and among
the common people. And the moon itself has always been
the subject matter in many poems and literary works.
In the meantime, since it is also the time when the Chinese
sweet-scented osmanthus( 桂 花 ) trees are in full
bloom, people drink sweet-scented osmanthus wine while
eating a special kind of sweet round cake called moon-cake,
which is the best present for relatives and friends.
7.6 The Double Ninth Festival
Chongyang Jie (The Double Ninth Festival)
The 9th day of the 9th lunar month is the traditional Double Ninth
Festival in China. On this day, when the chrysanthemums are in full
bloom, people often go climbing in the mountains, enjoy the
chrysanthemum and drinking chrysanthemum wine.
Chinese people favor special numbers such as the even numbers,
which are believed to be auspicious幸运的and can bring good luck to
them. So when it concerns numbers, usually the even numbers are the
first choice, especially when presenting gifts. People would never buy
things containing singular numbers which would be regarded as
Chongyang Jie (The Double Ninth Festival)
Although not as favored as the even numbers, some singular numbers
are still preferred, such as the number nine, which is considered the
greatest masculine one, symbolizing infinity. The legend has it that
the zigzagging body of a dragon, which was the symbol of the
powerful emperor in ancient China, looked like the number 9.
Therefore, number nine has been closely related with the dragon and
the emperor, and therefore regarded as the royal number and
Since there were two masculine numbers in the 9th day of the 9th
lunar month, the date was called double 9th as well as double
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