Fun bits of Chinese culture, by Rachel Goodwin

I have been in China for a year and a half now and one thing I still cannot get my head around is Chinese culture. It is absolutely fascinating and I feel like I am always learning new things. They have so many little things and superstitions that some would think are crazy but I think they are endearing.

One superstition I find very interesting is not to buy clocks for a gift. For secret Santa, we wanted to be sure we wouldn’t offend anyone with a gift and we were told not to buy any type of clock or watch because it is a bad omen. It is seen to be counting down the days to death. I am very glad I was told because back at home it is pretty common to buy someone a watch for Christmas!

Drinking hot water is another one. Hot water seems to be the cure for everything here. For every ailment I have had someone has told me to drink it. Everyone is really sweet and even if you just cough or sneeze once someone will run to get you a cup of hot water.

Another one I find interesting and I would love to learn more about is, people burning what I believe is fake money on the streets. I was told that it was to send wealth to their dead loved ones. I think it is also a sign of respect. It’s an amazing thing to see, people setting small fires on the streets.

I think one of my favourites is not being able to write names in red pen. I remember on my first day, my very first class. I asked my class to write their names on the board and I gave them a red pen. The first kid comes up and looks horrified, but still does it. I have no idea what is happening. The second kid came up and explained to me along with the CT that they believe it’s again a bad omen to the person whose name is written. (I think it is also wishing death upon them or something too) and I have never been so horrified in my life!

I could be wrong for the reasons behind any of these because I have just been told in passing or it could be that people believe them for different reasons or not at all. Either way I find the quirks in the Chinese culture fascinating. Every culture has it’s quirks but here they are so different to back home. I could never imagine someone casually lighting a fire on a street corner back in England!

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