We all know that China is a huge country. With a population well over 1 billion people, the Chinese make up approximately 20% of the world’s population. With this in mind, our Day Translations blog wants you to come along with us as we explore some fun facts you may not have known about Chinese culture.
So without further ado, here are some facts about China and Chinese culture that you probably didn’t know about.
There’s no alphabet
Believe it or not but within the Chinese language, an alphabet does not exist. Instead, the Chinese language has over 20,000 Chinese characters. This is important for us to keep in mind especially when learning Chinese. At first it may seem difficult to learn Chinese because of the absence of an alphabet, but once you get past this fact and adjust to the character based concept of the language then you should be on your way to learning.
It’s also suggested that you try to learn at least 2,500 characters and you’ll be able to get by to interact with and understand others when speaking Chinese.
As a side note, there are 7 major dialect groups within the Chinese language each of which has its own variation.
Traditional Chinese custom dictates that when someone is giving you a gift, it is customary to refuse at least one time before accepting it even if it’s something you really want. If you are the gift giver, it’s also customary for you to insist that the receiver takes the gift. You’re always supposed to open your gift in private.
China’s time zone
A very interesting fact about Chinese culture you probably didn’t know is that even though China is such a big country, it has only one time zone. In the past China has all of 5 time zones, but since 1949 all of that changed.
Although the Chinese have become accustomed to this schedule and operate on official Beijing time, it has caused the country’s operations to be conducted in a very unconventional manner. For example, in some parts of China, they have very late sunrises, some as late as after 10:00 am. This means that schools and places of work operate at very odd times.
Religions in China
Maybe you do know, maybe you don’t know but China is a multi-religious country that has approximately 5 official religions. The communist party leaders decided (even though they are atheists) that Buddhism, Catholicism, Islam, Taoism and Protestantism are the religions that can be practised. If any other religion is practiced it’s deemed illegal.
The culture of bicycle riding is very strong in China. In fact, it is a major form of transportation for many Chinese on a daily basis. It is believed that this culture of bicycle riding is as a result of how difficult it is to obtain a driving license in China as well as how difficult a process it is to buy and own a vehicle.
Don’t worry however, because many of the major cities in China are built to facilitate biking. There are official lanes dedicated to bicycles as well as many docking ports for safe parking. Naturally, it won’t come as a surprise that China is the leader in the world when it comes to bicycle manufacturing.
There’s a huge traffic jam problem
Based on what we know about the Chinese, we can safely say that innovation plays a major role in their culture. That said, given the fact that China may very well be the most populated country, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many of the major cities have huge traffic jam problems.
Let’s say you’re stuck in traffic and you urgently need to be somewhere; well the ‘bottleneck rescuers’ can come to your aid. They’re in the business of traffic jams.
If you give them a call two guys will come to your rescue. One comes with the sole duty of taking you to your destination via motorbike while the other jumps into the driver’s seat of your car and waits out the traffic jam for you. Of course, your car is delivered safely to your destination when they finally get out of the traffic jam.
Not bad business if you ask us.
The real food culture of China
As westerners, we may not be aware of what true Chinese cuisine is. We’ve fallen victim to what we call ‘mainstream Chinese food’. If you were to visit China however, you’ll quickly discover that real Chinese food contains lots of fruits and vegetables as well as lots of herbs and spices. With this in mind, it’s also important to note that unlike many western countries, the Chinese eat just about anything to include dogs, rats and even snakes. Of course, this didn’t happen out of thin air. The history of China has seen the country go through various famines for example and with such a large population, at one point or other feeding, everyone would become a task. So with such a reality, many families have had to do with what they have to survive.
Of course, we could talk about the food without mentioning that the world famous fortune cookie that is believed to have come out of China, in truth and in fact is not part of Chinese culture. Instead, the fortune cookie was invented in San Francisco, USA. Which means that the tradition of having a fortune cookie at the end of your Chinese meal is a western custom as opposed to a traditional Chinese custom.
We hope you enjoyed these fun facts you probably didn’t know about China as much as we did. With such a long history and rich culture, we could go on and on but we’ll stop here for now. If you’re planning on visiting China anytime soon, we hope these facts about Chinese culture helps you to know more about your future destination.
And of course, Day Translations is here to help with all your translations and interpreting needs, even on your next trip to China. Let our team of experts help you to translate or interpret from your native language to Chinese.