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Eating and drinking in China can be a mind-broadening and enjoyable cultural experience. However, there are likely to be many surprises along the way. We would like to prepare you for, and even warn you of, the main differences between eating and drinking in China and in the West. (Some of the things mentioned below you will (fortunately) not experience if you don’t eat with Chinese people and stick to the largest restaurants.)

Eating Practice in China
“Sit-Down Buffet” — Share the Same Dishes
In China eating is more of a communal activity. In contrast to the West, where everyone orders their own meal, which arrives on a plate and is eaten individually, food is generally ordered dish-by-dish in China to be shared by all present at the table. Each diner has their own small rice bowl, into which food from the plates and bowls in the center of the table is placed using chopsticks, or perhaps serving spoons — a bit like a sit-down buffet perhaps.

Host Places Food in Your Bowl — Hospitality
eating in china
Be prepared for your Chinese host placing food in your bowl, usually without even asking. The host will often put chicken legs or other choice parts of the meal in the guest’s bowl. Though Westerners may see this as interfering with one’s independence and personal space, it is a sign of hospitality in China.

Touching Tables is OK
Though in the West it is sometimes considered rude to put one’s elbows on the dining table, this is quite acceptable in China, particularly when eating noodles. You however may want to avoid this in some restaurants where the table is only wiped with an old cloth and there may be some unseen residue from the previous patrons’ meals. Using your own antiseptic wipes may help to put your mind at ease in some situations.

Chopsticks, No Knives or Forks
learn to use chopsticks Using chopsticks is quite hard for some foreigners.
It is common in China for everyone to use their own chopsticks for fetching food from the dishes in the center. If you would prefer, for hygiene reasons, serving spoons and serving chopsticks can be provided for food in the center of the table.

Don’t be embarrassed by using chopsticks poorly or not using them at all. The main thing is that you enjoy the food. Food is so important in Chinese culture, and the Chinese are such a practical people, that all around you will most likely be fine with whatever method you use to eat. They will be very impressed though if you can use chopsticks proficiently.

Read more about Chinese Chopsticks — Legends, How to Use Them, and Taboos.
Spitting Out the Bones on Side Plate
In China it is also common practice to spit things out on the table or the floor. In more upper-market restaurants people usually refrain and use one of the methods below rather than spitting. Often food has small pieces of bone or other inedible parts that need to be removed from the mouth. Using chopsticks, a hand or a tissue is a polite way around the problem. You might want to ask for a side plate or an extra bowl for the bones, etc. Be warned if seeing piles of things that came out of someone’s mouth may put you off your food. You may want to order dishes with no bones.

Restaurants — Noise and Smoking
restaurantChinese restaurant
Be warned that in some popular local restaurants, especially in the evenings, the noise of uninhibited chatter and drinking games can become very loud. Smoking is also permitted in most Chinese restaurants. A way round this, in larger restaurants, is to request a side room for your meal, which will have its own door to insulate you from the noise and smoke.

Eating noisily and with one’s mouth open may be considered rude in the West. However, slurping, smacking the lips and leaving the mouth open when eating can be viewed as demonstrating enjoyment of the food and a friendly atmosphere in China.

Dessert — Not Common in Chinese Eating
Eating something sweet for dessert is not a Chinese custom. (“Western” restaurants often provide a dessert menu however.) Sweet things can be found hidden among everything else on a Chinese menu. Fruit salads [水果沙拉shuiguo shala /shway-gwor shah-lah/] and caramel covered apple (or other fruit) [拔丝苹果 basi pingguo /bah-srr ping-gwor/] are Chinese sweet dishes that are popular with Westerners.

Chinese Style Western Food
There is a lot of “Western food” in China, however much of it is “fake” or low quality “Western food”, e.g. gritty insipid hot chocolate. Chocolate, bread and milk particularly, apart from the most expensive products, often leave a lot to be desired. Keep your expectations low and look out for worldwide brands when buying. In restaurants portions are usually smaller than in the West (sometimes half an American portion).

The Chinese animal zodiac, or shengxiao (/shnng-sshyaoww/ ‘born resembling’), is a repeating cycle of 12 years, with each year being represented by an animal and its reputed attributes. Traditionally these zodiac animals were used to date the years.

2018 is the year of the Dog. In order, the 12 animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig. Each year is associated with a zodiac animal. The next year will be the year of the Pig.

The 12 Animals of the Chinese Zodiac
These 12 animal images represent the Chinese zodiac signs. Their most recent five zodiac sign years are shown. Each zodiac animal’s year comes around every 12 years. Click an image to learn more about its zodiac sign.

rat2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960 ox 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961 tiger2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962 rabbit2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963 dragon2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964 snake2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965
horse2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966 goat2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967 monkey2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968 rooster2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969 dog2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970 pig2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971
What Your Chinese Zodiac Animal Sign Is
Your Chinese Zodiac sign is derived from your birth year, according to the Chinese lunar calendar. See the years of each animal above or use the calculator on the right to determine your own sign.

Those born in January and February take care: Chinese (Lunar) New Year moves between 21 January and February 20. If you were born in January or February, check whether your birth date falls before or after Chinese New Year to know what your Chinese zodiac year is.

Find Your Chinese Zodiac Sign
Choose your date of birth and find out about your Chinese zodiac sign.

Search
The Zodiac is Only One of China’s Fortune Prediction Methods
To make a relatively correct Chinese fortune prediction, people take many methods into consideration, such as face characteristics, palmistry, and more involved Chinese astrology including birth month, day, and hour, gender, etc.

Zodiac fortune prediction by birth year is only one of these methods. So you may only take Chinese zodiac birth sign horoscopes as a general reference.

Chinese Zodiac Love Compatibility — Is He/She Right for You?
People born in a certain animal year are believed to have attributes of that animal, which could either help or hinder a relationship.

An important use of Chinese Zodiac is to determine if two people are compatible, in a romantic relationship or any kind of relationship. In ancient times people were faithful to Chinese Zodiac compatibility and often referred to it before a romantic relationship began. Even nowadays some people still refer to it.

Take our online test on the right and find how suitable you and your partner are. See our Chinese Zodiac Love Compatibility Charts

Chinese Zodiac Love Compatibility Test
Is she/he compatible with you? Take the test and see…
Boy’s Name:

Date of Birth:

mm/dd/yyyy

search your chinese zodiac sign
Girl’s Name:

Date of Birth:

mm/dd/yyyy
what is your chinese zodiac signs
It’s BAD LUCK When Your Zodiac Year Comes Around!
As the Chinese zodiac recurs every 12 years, your animal year will come around when you are 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, etc.

According to ancient Chinese superstition, in your birth sign year, he will offend the God of Age, and will have bad luck during that year. The best way to avoid bad luck during this year is by wearing something red given by an elder (relative), such as socks, a neck cord, underwear, a waistband, a bracelet, or an anklet.

Read more on How to be Lucky in Your Zodiac Year.

As an integral part of the traditional Chinese culture, the ancient marriage customs have a long history of over 5,000 years, which have changed over time due to different social ethics and aesthetic standards from one dynasty to another, however, they also have their own unique characteristics and rituals which have been carried forward to the present and still exert a far-reaching influence on later generations.

Development of Ancient Chinese Marriage Customs

The ancient Chinese marriage customs have gone through five stages over 5,000 years: primitive group marriage stage, consanguineous marriage stage, exogamous marriage stage, antithetic marriage stage and the monogamy marriage stage.

Primitive Group Marriage
In the primitive society, the ancestors of the Chinese people lived in groups and had no fixed spouses, and they had sexual relationships indiscriminately with one another. Owing to their weak gender awareness, they didn’t felt ashamed and weren’t bound by customs and etiquettes.

Consanguineous Marriage
As the first marriage taboo in Chinese history, consanguineous marriage emerged during the middle Neolithic Age, which banned a parent-offspring marriage but allowed the marriage of people of the same generation (such as the brother and sister of a family). The representative consanguineous marriage was between Fu Xi (one of the Three August Ones and the Five Lords) and Nv Wa, who were blood brother and sister.

Exogamous Marriage Stage
As the second marriage taboo in Chinese history, exogamous marriage emerged in the middle and late Neolithic Age, which strictly banned the marriage between blood brothers and sisters, and it only allowed marriage among different social groups.

In the exogamous marriage stage, it was very common for the brothers of the same family to marry a wife from the other group, and she would be the wife of all the brothers in the family, and vice versa. The legend went that Shun (one of the Three August Ones and the Five Lords) married Yao’s daughters, Ehuang and Nvying, at the same time.

Antithetic Marriage
As a transitional stage from the exogamous marriage stage to the monogamous marriage stage, the antithetic marriage (or paired marriage) was an unstable marriage between men and women during the late Neolithic Age, which was very different from modern monogamy and easily dissolved; and it retained some vestiges of group marriage with tolerance toward a husband’s or wife’s extramarital relationships.

Monogamy Marriage
As the patriarchal social system took place of the matriarchal social system, the private ownership of property came into being, on which the ancient monogamous marriage was based. In the ancient monogamy marriage stage, the husband owned everything in the family, including his wife, children and property, and the main task of women was bearing children to carry on the paternal lineages.

Principles of Ancient Chinese Marriage Customs
weddingChinese wedding
According to Confucianism, a marriage is the beginning of ethics and a wedding ceremony is the essence of etiquettes, which has a substantial influence on social stability, and only those marriages with formal wedding ceremonies are recognized by society. The basic principles of an ancient marriage mainly involved the matched social status, the dictates of the parents and the advice of the matchmaker, the ban of the marriage for a couple with the same surname and the tolerance toward polygamy.

Matched Social Status

The marriageable age was 20 for males and 16 for females in ancient China, and an ideal standard of marriage was well-matched in social and economic status for the two families. In the Western Zhou Dynasty (1046 BC-771 BC), the intermarriage between noblemen and commoners was absolutely forbidden by law. The implementation of the nine-rank system in the Wei (220-265), Jin (265-420), Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589) resulted in a rigid feudal hierarchy system, making it impossible for a noble to get married with a commoner. Although it was superseded by the civil-service examination system in the Sui Dynasty (581-618), it was still a tradition for the concerned parties to get matched according to their social and economic status, which was followed by the Tang (618-907) Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Dictates of Parents and Advice of Matchmakers

Free love was absolutely banned in ancient China and was widely condemned as an offence to public decency according to the traditional Confucian ethic codes, so it was the task of parents to arrange marriage for their children in order to maintain order of the traditional patriarchal society. Not only was the arranged marriage formally favored by society, but it was also politically supported and enhanced by law in ancient China.

As a matter of fact, the marriageable boy and girl were supposed to obey the dictates of their parents and follow the advice of the matchmaker on the arranged marriage pattern. Having never seen each other before their wedding day, this resulted in numerous unequal and loveless marriages.

Colors are important to Chinese culture as they are endowed with lucky meanings. The three main lucky colors considered lucky in people’s daily lives as well as on special occasions are red, yellow, and green.

We have also covered color combinations preferred in China. Lastly, we have provided some insight into unlucky colors for your awareness.

The Top Three Lucky Colors in China
(I) Red — Happiness, Success and Good Fortune
Red represents fire and is the most popular color in China. It is also the national color representing happiness, beauty, vitality, good luck, success and good fortune.

lucky colors in Chinese culture Red envelopes (and unusual yellow envelopes) for lucky money
Red is famously popular in relation to anything Chinese and is widely used during festivals and important events like weddings.

Red lanterns adorn businesses and residences. Double rows of red “Xi” (happiness) letters are pasted on gates and doors. People wear red during weddings, festivals and other celebratory events. Red envelopes are stuffed with money and given as gifts during Chinese New Year.

(II) Yellow — Royalty and Power of the Throne
Yellow — corresponding to earth — symbolizes royalty and is reserved for the emperor.

The first Emperor of China was known as the Yellow Emperor. China was often referred to as ‘Yellow Earth’, and its mother river is the Yellow River. This is the most important color from an ancient perspective.

Chinese emperor clad in royal yellow robesChinese emperor clad in royal yellow robes
During the Song Dynasty (960-1279), yellow glazed tiles were used to build imperial palaces. During Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1636-1911) Dynasties, emperors were dressed in yellow imperial robes. They rode in “yellow palace” carriages and traveled on “yellow paths”. Official flags were yellow.

Official seals were packaged in yellow fabric. Overlooking the Forbidden City from Beijing Jing Mountain, one can see a sea of yellow glazed tile roofs. Gilded copper urns and animals adorn many palaces.

In Chinese Buddhism, yellow is associated with freedom from material needs and monks wear yellow robes.

(III) Green — Money and wealth
Green is the color of wealth, fertility, regeneration, hope, harmony and growth. Green also represents pure and clean.

Buildings, banks and restaurants are often painted in green. Packaging for milk or produce is often in green to indicate that the product is contamination free.

Other Colors of Significance
In Chinese Five Elements Theory, a traditional philosophy about natural interactions used in fengshui etc., red represents ‘fire’, yellow ‘earth’, white ‘metal’, black ‘water’, and green (or blue) ‘wood’.

Blue
Chinese Five Elements Theory Colors in Chinese Five Elements Theory
Blue is usually seen in combination with green or black. Blue can represent wood and symbolizes spring and brings a positive meaning.

Blue stands for healing, trust and long life. Shades of green/blue are used to decorate homes for longevity and harmony.

Black
Black corresponds to water and is considered to be a neutral color in Chinese culture and is the color of heaven, symbolizing the northern and western sky. This color represents immortality, knowledge, stability and power.

Because of this, government cars are all black. The police uniform is also black to project authority and control.

Eating and drinking in China can be a mind-broadening and enjoyable cultural experience. However, there are likely to be many surprises along the way. We would like to prepare you for, and even warn you of, the main differences between eating and drinking in China and in the West. (Some of the things mentioned below you will (fortunately) not experience if you don’t eat with Chinese people and stick to the largest restaurants.)

Eating Practice in China
“Sit-Down Buffet” — Share the Same Dishes
In China eating is more of a communal activity. In contrast to the West, where everyone orders their own meal, which arrives on a plate and is eaten individually, food is generally ordered dish-by-dish in China to be shared by all present at the table. Each diner has their own small rice bowl, into which food from the plates and bowls in the center of the table is placed using chopsticks, or perhaps serving spoons — a bit like a sit-down buffet perhaps.

Host Places Food in Your Bowl — Hospitality
eating in china
Be prepared for your Chinese host placing food in your bowl, usually without even asking. The host will often put chicken legs or other choice parts of the meal in the guest’s bowl. Though Westerners may see this as interfering with one’s independence and personal space, it is a sign of hospitality in China.

Touching Tables is OK
Though in the West it is sometimes considered rude to put one’s elbows on the dining table, this is quite acceptable in China, particularly when eating noodles. You however may want to avoid this in some restaurants where the table is only wiped with an old cloth and there may be some unseen residue from the previous patrons’ meals. Using your own antiseptic wipes may help to put your mind at ease in some situations.

Chopsticks, No Knives or Forks
learn to use chopsticks Using chopsticks is quite hard for some foreigners.
It is common in China for everyone to use their own chopsticks for fetching food from the dishes in the center. If you would prefer, for hygiene reasons, serving spoons and serving chopsticks can be provided for food in the center of the table.

Don’t be embarrassed by using chopsticks poorly or not using them at all. The main thing is that you enjoy the food. Food is so important in Chinese culture, and the Chinese are such a practical people, that all around you will most likely be fine with whatever method you use to eat. They will be very impressed though if you can use chopsticks proficiently.

Read more about Chinese Chopsticks — Legends, How to Use Them, and Taboos.
Spitting Out the Bones on Side Plate
In China it is also common practice to spit things out on the table or the floor. In more upper-market restaurants people usually refrain and use one of the methods below rather than spitting. Often food has small pieces of bone or other inedible parts that need to be removed from the mouth. Using chopsticks, a hand or a tissue is a polite way around the problem. You might want to ask for a side plate or an extra bowl for the bones, etc. Be warned if seeing piles of things that came out of someone’s mouth may put you off your food. You may want to order dishes with no bones.

Restaurants — Noise and Smoking
restaurantChinese restaurant
Be warned that in some popular local restaurants, especially in the evenings, the noise of uninhibited chatter and drinking games can become very loud. Smoking is also permitted in most Chinese restaurants. A way round this, in larger restaurants, is to request a side room for your meal, which will have its own door to insulate you from the noise and smoke.

Eating noisily and with one’s mouth open may be considered rude in the West. However, slurping, smacking the lips and leaving the mouth open when eating can be viewed as demonstrating enjoyment of the food and a friendly atmosphere in China.

Dessert — Not Common in Chinese Eating
Eating something sweet for dessert is not a Chinese custom. (“Western” restaurants often provide a dessert menu however.) Sweet things can be found hidden among everything else on a Chinese menu. Fruit salads [水果沙拉shuiguo shala /shway-gwor shah-lah/] and caramel covered apple (or other fruit) [拔丝苹果 basi pingguo /bah-srr ping-gwor/] are Chinese sweet dishes that are popular with Westerners.

Chinese Style Western Food
There is a lot of “Western food” in China, however much of it is “fake” or low quality “Western food”, e.g. gritty insipid hot chocolate. Chocolate, bread and milk particularly, apart from the most expensive products, often leave a lot to be desired. Keep your expectations low and look out for worldwide brands when buying. In restaurants portions are usually smaller than in the West (sometimes half an American portion).

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