Chinese culture is a rich tapestry. Watching as an outsider, witnessing the beauty of some of the traditions upheld by those of Chinese heritage and ethnicity, regardless of where they reside, is an opportunity to take advantage of. We witness an intertwine of symbolism in their culture and rituals; their traditions and religions and tribes to weave a story. Some of the best Chinese customs to be privy to could be happening right next door to you. Take a look at the list if you want to expand your horizons and take a peek into a few of their customs.
Baby’s First Month Celebrations And Zhua Zhou (The First Year)
The celebration of the birth of a child is rooted in religion, spirituality and culture. As a majority of people of Chinese ethnicity follow either Taoism or Buddhism, these two are predominant in the child’s life from before their birth. A child is born according to one of the twelve Chinese zodiac characters. These determine the paths of the child each year. Having already bombarded parents with Malaysia’s top baby care products, one of the most important birthday celebrations for the child will be after their first thirty days. The baby’s head is shaved in celebration of them reaching one month.
On the baby’s first birthday, after a whole year, a special ceremony called Zhua Zhou is held. During the ceremony the child is placed in front of various objects. The aim is for the baby to pick an object which will give some insight into the kind of person they will grow into– their career paths, their personality and their goals.
The Chinese New Year
If you ever visit China during the Chinese New Year you will be treated to one of the most mesmerising ceremonies in existence. Lanterns which are often red in colour are lit up and strung across streets. It is a sacred festival that is held over a number of days. If you have a friend whose family celebrates Chinese New Year, ask to be a witness to one of the most spectacular New Year festivities on the planet. Similar to the conventional New Year, their festivities symbolise a renewal; a rebirth. In a small community, you may witness a slice of the mythical and mystical festivities that include parades with dragon costumes, dances and instruments. The experience is riveting.
There are other festivals to attend that are not as well-known as the New Year’s celebrations, but still hold meaning and commemorate a large part of Chinese culture. See below for other festivities you wouldn’t want to miss!
– Qingming Festival (The Sweeping Of The Tombs)
– Dragon Boat Festival
– Lantern Festival
– Spring Festival
– Mid-autumn Day
Martial Arts Festivals
If there is anything that China is known for, it is its impressive resume of martial arts films. With several icons like Jackie Chan and Jet Li playing a role in the integration of western media and Chinese filming, their Kung Fu festivals are a wondrous event. The exhilarating rush as competitors compete for belts and trophies will have you on your toes.
Martial Arts in China emphasise more than the act of fighting. At their core, they teach respect, discipline and even empathy. Using fighting skills for the right reasons, to defend oneself and defend those who cannot fight for themselves are some of the core fundamentals of martial arts practices. Treat yourself to Shaolin Kung Fu or Tai Chi fighting styles and enjoy the camaraderie and good spirited sparring contests of young fighters.
Traditional Chinese Wedding
If you are a fan of weddings, then you will adore the Chinese wedding ceremonies. Prior to the wedding, the couple consult fortune tellers before they set a date. The betrotheds’ zodiac signs play a massive role in this. Before the night of the wedding, there is a ceremony known as the Hair Combing Ceremony. Here, the bride has her hair combed by a woman who also recites blessings of good fortune over the relationship to ensue. The wedding itself consists of two parts: a tea ceremony and a banquet. Jing Cha (the tea ceremony) is an intimate affair for close friends and family where tea is served for the husband and wife to show gratitude and respect to their parents or parental figures.
Cultural enlightenment is necessary especially in a day where recognition is needed for the certain roles cultures play in popular media. Being a well-travelled individual can not only broaden your knowledge as an individual, but it stimulates mental health and empathetic processes. Acknowledging a different culture to yours and appreciating it can be a stepping stone to bridging relations, finding similarities as different peoples instead of segregating against what is different.