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Chinese Culture

In: Religion Topics

Submitted By evatlz
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Introduction chinese culture
Chinese culture is one of the world’s oldest and most complex.
The area in which the culture is dominant covers a huge geographical region in eastern Asia with customs and traditions varying greatly between towns, cities and provinces. Important components of Chinese culture includes art,cuisine, festival and etc.
People in the culture
Identity
Throughout history, many recognized ethnic groups have been assimilated into neighboring ethnicities or disappeared without a trace.
At the same time, many within the Han identity have maintained distinct linguistic and regional cultural traditions. The term Zhonghua Minzu has been used to describe the notion of Chinese nationalism in general. Much of the traditional identity within the community has to do with distinguishing the family name.
Values
Most social values are derived from Confucianism and Taoism.
The subject of which school was the most influential is always debated as many concepts such as Neo-Confucianism, Buddhism and many others.
Reincarnation and other rebirth concept is a reminder of the connection between real-life and the after-life.
In Chinese business culture, the concept of guanxi, indicating the primacy of relations over rules, has been well documented.
Chinese Language
The Chinese language (汉语/漢語 Hànyǔ; 华语/華語 Huáyǔ; 中文 Zhōngwén) is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees.[4] Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages. About one-fifth of the world's population, or over one billion people, speaks some variety of Chinese as their native language. Internal divisions of Chinese are usually perceived by their native speakers as dialects of a single Chinese language, rather than separate languages, although this identification is considered inappropriate by some linguists and sinologists.[5] Chinese is distinguished by its high level of internal diversity, although all varieties of Chinese are tonal and analytic. There are between 7 and 13 main regional groups of Chinese (depending on classification scheme), of which the most spoken, by far, is Mandarin (about 850 million), followed by Wu (90 million), Cantonese (Yue) (70 million) and Min (50 million). Most of these groups are mutually unintelligible, although some, like Xiang and the Southwest Mandarin dialects, may share common terms and some degree of intelligibility.
Taboo of Chinese

Chinese Taboo – Numbers:
Good things come in pairs so odd numbers are avoided for birthdays and weddings. However, to avoid bad things happening in pairs, burials and giving gifts to the ill are not held on even numbered days.
Four– the number four (四, sì) sounds like death (死, sǐ) so the number four is avoided particularly on phone numbers, license plates and addresses. While addresses do contains fours, the rent is usually less and apartments on the fourth floor are typically rented by foreigners.
Chinese Taboo – at Work
Shopkeepers may opt not to read a book at work because book (書, shū) sounds like lose (輸, shū). Shopkeepers who read may be afraid their businesses will suffer losses.

Chinese Taboo – Food:
1. Young children should not eat chicken feet as it is believed they might not be able to write well when they start school. They may also be prone to get in fights like roosters.
2. Leaving food on one’s plate, particularly grains of rice, will result in marriage to a spouse with many pockmarks on his or her face or the person will have the wrath of the Thunder god.
3. Chopsticks should not be left standing straight up in a bowl of rice. This act is said to bring bad luck to the restaurant owner as the chopsticks in rice look similar to incense placed in urns at temples when meals are offered to ancestors.

Chinese New Year:
During the 10 days of the Chinese New Year celebration you: * Should Not Use Negative Words or Phrases. This is a time of happiness and looking forward to prosperity. Any sort of reference to death, misfortune, or hardship should be avoided. In terms of language, this means avoiding even words that are negative even if put in a positive sentence. * Should Avoid the Number 4. Four is pronounced sei, death is pronounced /sei/. Instead of saying "4" of something, you can say "2 more than 2" of something. When giving gifts, do not give anything in 4's. However, it is best to give even numbers of things as gifts- just not 4 of them. * Should Not Throw Anything Away. Particularly true during the first few days, you should not throw anything away. New Years is a lucky time, and throwing things away during this time is akin to throwing away the good luck. * Should Avoid the Colors White and Black. Both colors symbolize death in Chinese culture. The colors red and gold are lucky, propitious colors that are seen in abundance during New Years. * Should Not Give Taboo Gifts. Taboo gifts include clocks (escorting someone to the grave), green hats (mean infidelity), shoes (sounds like a sigh), pears (sounds like separation), handkerchiefs (used in funerals) umbrellas (sounds like closing), scissors, knives or sharp bladed objects (symbolizes cutting ties).
Traditional Chinese Festival

Chinese New Year
The Lunar New Year is the most important event in the social calendar of ethnic Chinese around the world.It usually falls in January or February.Each year is represented by one of the 12 zodiac animals.The Chinese New Year celebration last for 15 days but in most countries, the first and usually the second day of Chinese New Year is designated as public holidays. In places where Chinese New Year is not official holidays, the Chinese population either applies for leave to celebrate during the nearest weekend. The major celebrations during the Chinese New Year are New Year eve reunion dinner visiting on New Year’s Day, the 15th day(yuanxiao) and the last day of the new year. The Chinese New Year celebration is a colorful, symbolic and joyous time. Many customs have a long history and may not be understood by all. Some dismiss certain aspects as superstition but a more in depth and detailed analysis suggest that cultural practices relating to the Chinese New Year do have social functions even if it is not immediately obvious. Therefore, the celebration of Chinese New Year is also a form of cultural transmission and illuminates the values and aspiration of ethnic Chinese.
Mid-Autumn Festival
The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most charming and colourful annual events that celebrates, among other things, harvest time with the biggest and brightest moon of the year. The festival also commemorates a 14th Century uprising against the Mongols. In a cunning plan, the rebels wrote the call to revolt on pieces of paper and embedded them in cakes that they smuggled to compatriots.
Todays, during the festival, people eat special sweet cakes known as "Moon Cakes" made of ground lotus and sesame seed paste, egg-yolk and other ingredients. Along with the cakes, shops sell colourful Chinese paper lanterns in the shapes of animals, and more recently, in the shapes of aeroplanes and space ships. On this family occasion, parents allow children to stay up late and take them to high vantage points such as The Peak to light their lanterns and watch the huge autumn moon rise while eating their moon cakes. Public parks are ablaze with many thousands of lanterns of all colours, sizes and shapes.
Dragon Boat Festival The Dragon Boat Festival, with a long history of more than 2,000 years, is believed to have originated during the Warring States period. A number of legends attempt to explain its origins. The best-known story is that of the legend of Qu Yuan, poet and statesman of the Chu kingdom during the Warring States period.
A well-known traditional story has it that the festival commemorates the death of poet Qu Yuan from the ancient state of Chu (340 BC–278 BC), during the Warring States Period of the Zhou Dynasty. A descendant of the Chu royal family, Qu Yuan served in high offices. When the king decided to ally with the increasingly powerful state of Qin, Qu Yuan failed to persuade him not to do so and was banished for opposing the alliance. Later, he was accused of treason and exiled. Qu Yuan wrote a great deal of poetry, for which he is now remembered. Twenty-eight years later, Qin State conquered the capital of Chu. In despair, Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.
It is said that the local people were very sad when hearing the news of Qu Yuan's death, and all came to the river bank to give their respect to the patriot. Fishermen refloated his body, and one of them threw lumps of rice into the river to feed the fish so that they would not eat Qu Yuan's body – this is purportedly the origin of zongzi. And, the locals paddled out on boats to scare the fish away and retrieve his body – purportedly the origin of dragon boat racing. Moreover, an old Chinese doctor poured Realgar wine into the river to poison the monsters and to protect Qu Yuan – purportedly the origin of drinking Realgar wine. Since then, on every fifth day of the fifth lunar month people race dragon boats, eat zongzi, and drink Realgar wine in commemoration of the great patriot Qu Yuan.
Winter Solstice Festival
Winter solstice is a solar term in Chinese lunar calendar, and a traditional festival as well. It falls on December 22 or 23 (solar calendar) every year. It is the day when the Northern Hemisphere has the shortest daytime and longest nighttime in the whole year. After winter solstice, the daytime will grow increasingly longer. Early in the Spring and Autumn Period over 2500 years ago, winter solstice was mensurated by the Chinese by observing the sun with a gnomon shadow template. It is the earliest among the 24 solar terms being stipulated. After winter solstice, the coldest period comes to the northern part of the globe, which is commonly called "JinJiu", suggesting that once winter solstice comes, we will meet the coldest time ahead.
Commonly known as "Potlatch", "Changzhi Festival" and "Yasui", etc., winter solstice is a rather big festival attached with great importance by the Chinese people, thus the saying "Winter solstice is as important as the Spring Festival". It is a custom to celebrate the arrival of winter solstice, which is regarded as worthy since it is the beginning of a solar term circulation. Also it is an auspicious day deserving celebration. It is said that winter solstice was considered as New Year's Day in the Zhou Dynasty. Such a saying is still going round in the south of the Yangtze River that "People will be one year older after finishing the winter solstice dinner", which is commonly called "tiansui" (growing older). In the Tang and Song Dynasties, it was on winter solstice that heaven and ancestor worship was performed. On this day, the emperor would hold a solemn heaven worship ceremony in the suburbs and common people would offer sacrifice to their late parents and ancestors.
The tradition of winter solstice has been handed down until now. On this day, people in North China will butcher goats and eat dumplings and wontons, while southerners will have winter solstice rice balls and long noodles. And all across China, sacrifice to heaven and ancestors is offered on this day. | | | | | |

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Tomb Sweeping Day (QingMing Festival)
Tomb Sweeping Day is a one-day Chinese holiday to commemorate and pay respect to a person’s ancestors. On Tomb Sweeping Day, families visit the gravesite of their ancestors to show their respect. Tomb Sweeping Day is held 107 days after the start of winter and is celebrated on April 4 or April 5, depending on the lunar calendar. Tomb Sweeping Day is a national holiday in China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan with most people having the day off from work or school to allow time to travel to ancestral gravesites
Tomb Sweeping Day is also known as Clear Brightness Festival. The alternative name Clear Brightness Festival comes from the weather, which is usually clear and bright during the third lunar month (April) when Tomb Sweeping Day is celebrated. The festival was originally the Cold Food Festival that began during the Early Zhou Dynasty, but it evolved into a tomb sweeping festival during the Tang Dynasty when the Tang emperor would gift fire to his officials. The emperor would light a fire and light branches that he gave to his officials. While the fires would be extinguished by the time the officials made it to their homes, they would leave the branches on their doorsteps. During the Song Dynasty, candles were used instead.In addition to visiting cemeteries, people also go for walks in the countryside, plant willows, and fly kites on Tomb Sweeping Day. Those who cannot travel back to their ancestors’ gravesites may opt to pay their respects at martyrs parks to pay homage to revolutionary martyrs.
Chinese Dance

The Dragon Dance
The dragon, with its fierce looking head especially, symbolizes dignity, wisdom and power in Chinese society, including the power to terrify. Fortunately, the Chinese dragon represents a benevolent force, even a happy one, who wishes nothing more than to bring prosperity to the people The Dragon Dance belongs to a category of folk dances in which acrobatics figures prominently, for the writhing antics of the dragon requires acrobatic leaps in order to suggest the undulating, swooping motions of such a large creature, though the dancers support the mock dragon on poles that can be raised, lowered and swung about as needed. Depending on the length of the mock dragon, up to 50 dancers can be required to animate it properly.
There are several versions of the Dragon Dance, one of the most popular of which is the Fire Dragon performance, during which countless lanterns are paraded before the dragon, symbolizing the creature's fiery breath. The Dragon Dance, as it is performed in China (the Dragon Dance is also a permanent fixture in almost every Chinese Lunar New Year celebration in the many Chinatowns all across the world, one of the largest such annual celebrations being the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade & Festival in the US state of California), is an interactive experience, with jubilant crowds beating drums and gongs. Various parts of the mock dragon's body are lit up with roman-candle-like, spewing fireworks, adding to the festive spirit.
The Lion Dance
By far the most popular folk dance performance in all of China is the Lion Dance. The ancient Chinese, like the Greeks and the Romans who would appear after them, prized the qualities of that king of beasts, the lion, seeing it as a guardian figure (the most common depiction of the lion, anywhere, is the male specimen, and in fact, the role of the male lion – who is otherwise rather lazy, leaving the female lions to shoulder the lion's share of the hunting – is precisely to defend the pride, usually simply by making his presence felt, oftentimes in the form of nothing more than a threatening roar). The animal seen by the Chinese people stemmed from India (the African lion is larger), but was no less awe-inspiring. The lion also has symbolic significance in Buddhism, yet another reason for the typical Chinese Imperial subject to admire this fierce beast.The Lion Dance has a different significance in northern versus southern China. In northern China, the Lion Dance is generally much more evocative, being performed by acrobatic dancers, suggesting all the ferocity and agility of the mighty lion. It was accordingly a favorite dance at court as well. The colors of the "northern" lion were usually a combination or red, orange and yellow (i.e., royal colors) – though green body fur was generally used to represent the female specimen – and with an oversized, shaggy, golden head for the male specimen.

In southern China, the lion takes on the more symbolic role of one who guards against – or in some cases exorcises – evil spirits. The color scheme of the "southern" lion was of no particular importance, therefore they appear in a variety of colors. The head of the southern lion is also oversized, but with even disproportioniately larger eyes, with a "unique horn" (single horn) at the center of the head and with a mirror on its forehead, reflecting light with each of the beast's movements.
Chinese Music

| Yangqin----former Santur |
According to the historical texts, there was an instrument named “Santur” which was very popular in the ancient Middle East like Persia before the Middle Ages. With friendly exchanges between West Asia and China by sea, “Santur” was introduced firstly into Guangdong area during the Ming Dynasty (1368~1644) and then everywhere. Later, Chinese folk artists did some reform work and made Santur” into today’s Yangqin. In the late Qing Dynasty, yangqin was joined in some local operas as accompany instrument, such as Yue opera(粤剧), Chao Opera,Min opera, Yue opera (越剧)and Hu opera. The above is a common opinion about the origin of yangqin. But some experts, like Zhou Qingbao, state that yangqin is spread into China by the Silk Road earlier than by sea and Uygur people are the heirs of this instrument.

Guzheng
The Zheng ,commonly known as Guzheng, , is a plucked string instrument that is part of the zither family. It is one of the most ancient Chinese musical instruments according to the documents written in the Qin dynasty (before 206 BC). Zheng is the forerunner of Japanese koto, Korean kayagum, Mongolian yatag, and Vietnamese dan tranh. Due to its long history, the zheng has been called guzheng or Gu-Zhengwhere "Gu" stands for "ancient" in Chinese. The guzhenghas been a popular instrument since ancient times and is considered as one of the main chamber as well as solo instruments of Chinese traditional music. Since the mid-19th century, guzheng solo repertoire has been growing and evolving towards an increasing technical complexity.
Zheng (Guzheng) is build with a special wooden sound body with strings arched across movable bridges along the length of the instrument for the purpose of tuning. In the early times the zheng had 5 string (quite probably with bamboo sound body); later on developed into 12 to 13 strings in the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907AD) and 16 strings in the Song and Ming dynasty (from the 10th to 15th century). The present day zhengusually has 21-25 strings.

Lute
The pipa is a four stringed lute (or Chinese guitar)with a pear-shaped body. Its short, bent neck has 30 frets which extend onto the soundboard, offering a wide range (3.5 octavos). This instrument appears in texts dating up to the second century B.C. There are a lot of written texts of the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) about pipa music played and the stories that inspired the composition for those pipa pieces. Since the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the pipa is one of the most popular Chinese instruments, and has maintained its appeal in solo as well as chamber genres. The pipa technique is characterised by spectacular finger dexterity and virtuosi programmatic effects. Rolls, slaps, pizzicato, harmonics and noises are often combined into extensive tone poems vividly describing famous battles or other exciting scenes. The instrument is also capable of more lyrical effects in pieces inspired by poetry, landscapes and historical themes. Pipa music has been loved by Chinese people through centuries and there used to be a large repertoire of pipa music, a lot of them were lost, and some of them were handed down from generation to generation through individual artists and scholars.

Traditional Food
Nian Gao
Nian Gao or New year cakes are sweet sticky Chinese pastries made from glutinous rice. Nian Gao sounds similar to Nian Gao implying promotions or prosperity year after year. This association makes Nian Gao a popular gift item during the New Year period. Among traditional Chinese pastries, Nian Gao probably has the greatest variety in its appearance and shape. It is available all year round but especially popular during the Chinese New Year period. Just before the start of the Chinese New Year, a small piece of Nian Gao is pasted on the image of the Kitchen god before sending him off to the Celestial court. It is believed that doing so ensures that the Kitchen god gives a favorable report on the household.
On the more human level, Nian Gao are popular as gifts during the Chinese New Year. The traditional Nian Gao is round with a auspicious decoration such as the character for prosperity on its top.The character is often written in the traditional Chinese script. It can come in several sizes small, medium and big. Producers have also responded to consumer's demand for fresh and small serving by offering Nian Gao i n a decorated box of a few smaller cups. Such Nian Gao are often used for private consumption or used as an offering.
Moon Cake

Mooncakes are traditionally Chinese pastries generally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the two most important festivals in Chinese calendar (the other being the Chinese New Year). The festival typically involves family getting together to share mooncakes while watching the moon. Most mooncakes consist of a thin tender skin enveloping a sweet, dense filling. Mooncakes are usually eaten in small wedges shared by family members. They are generally served with Chinese tea, and very rarely, mooncakes are served steamed or fried.

Rice Dumplings The festival commemorates Qu Yuan, a patriotic poet from the Kingdom of Chu during the Warring States period who committed suicide upon hearing the fall of Chu’s capital city to the Qin armies. He was believed to have drowned himself in the Miluo River on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month in 278 BCE. Civilians around the area row their boats out to try to save him or to recover his body. They beat on drums and gongs to frighten away fishes and sea creature to prevent them from eating his body. When these efforts proved futile, they threw rice dumplings into the river to prevent the sea creatures from attacking his body. Qu Yuan came to symbolize patriotism and on his death anniversary date, it became a custom to organize Dragon boat races and to consume dumplings.
Tang Yuan
Historically, a number of different names were used to refer to the tangyuan. During the Yongle era of the Ming Dynasty, the name was then officially called as yuanxiao, a name derived from the Yuanxiao festival, also known as the Lantern Festival. This name literally means “first evening”, being the first full moon or new moon after Chinese New Year. This name prevails in northern China.
In southern China, however, the prevailing names are tangyuan or tangtuan. Legend has it that during Yuan Shikai’s rule (1912-1916), Yuan disliked the name Yuanxiao because it sounded identical to “remove Yuan”, and so mandated that the name Tangyuan be used instead. This name literally means “round balls in soup”. Tangtuan similarly means “round dumplings in soup”.

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