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Buddhism is hailed to be one of the major religions in China. However, it is necessary to note that Buddhism in China is very much different from that of the world. It follows other theories and is supposed to have various propagators. 

 

Many people believe that Buddhism in China entered through the Silk Road. It was under the rule of the Han Dynasty that Buddhism started in China. Furthermore, it is believed that the trade and travel relations of Yuezhi contributed to the monks coming to China. The monks entered China via the Silk Road and eventually started preaching their religion. As time passed, Buddhism in China caught up with the pace. 

 

The beginning of Buddhism in China

As stated above, Buddhism began in China owing to the trade relations between China and India. Buddhism entered the ways of China around 2000 years ago. It was from India that Buddhism spread in China under the Han Dynasty. The West of the 1st Century BCE traders contributed to Buddhism’s introduction to China via the Silk Road. 

By the early 5th century, Buddhism was already established in South China.  The Han Dynasty of China followed Confucian theory. It was based mostly on ethics. According to Confucianism, one must follow harmony and maintain social order within the society. However, Buddhism was focused on pursuing monastic life.

As Buddhism’s teachings suggest, one should follow reality when following a monastic life and seek what lies beyond it. However, Confucian China was not willing to accept Buddhism. But, it gradually did evolve and found its place. 

Despite the resistance from Confucian China, Buddhism did pick up the pace. By the end of the 2nd century, Buddhism did find its existence in China, with monks coming in with moving time. The monks from Gandhara and Parthian monks started to translate the Buddhist sutras from Sanskrit to Chinese. These translations were the key to the rise of the popularity of Buddhism in China. 

Buddhism in China history
Big Buddha Temple, a Buddhist temple complex in Chengde, Hebei province, China

Buddhism in ancient China

Chinese Buddhism is hailed to be one of the oldest types. The foreign religious history of China has Buddhism as its first occurring one. However, Buddhism in China is different from the general notion.

It is said that Chinese Buddhism is made of a combination of Mahayana Buddhism and Taoism. Both of them teach the concept of achieving enlightenment in one lifetime. 

According to ancient Chinese history, Buddhism and Chinese Buddhism have received a mixed reaction from China rulers. Various scriptures suggest that many rulers went to the extent of eradicating the religion. Under the Han Dynasty rule, Buddhism merged with that of Taoism and folk religion and, hence, was adopted by many people around. 

The Silk Road from Xinjiang and Tea Horse Road via Yunnan was hailed to be existing land routes. After the decline of the Han Dynasty, the dynasties that came in started or adopted their religions. These religions further differentiated from the Buddhists across South Asia, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia. 

Owing to the acceptance and difference, various schools of Buddhism came into existence in China over the years. Hence, these teachings of Chinese Buddhism were eventually adopted, which further gave rise to modern-day Buddhism in China. 

The connection between Buddhism and Daoism

For everyone confused, Taoism is also referred to as Daoism. Taoism or Daoism is one of the oldest religions of China. Furthermore, it is more like a philosophical tradition that came into existence in China around 550BC. Lao Tzu is the propagator or founder of the idea.

However, Buddhism is a religion of ancient India brought into existence by Siddhartha Gautama and was found around the 6th century BCE. Buddhism is often referred to as the offshoot of Hinduism. 

 

Both Daoism and Buddhism were found around the same time and are based on the concept of breaking free from the samsara or achieving Nirvana. Buddhism doesn’t follow the concept of God. Instead, it believes in the fact that one must seek its reality and what lies behind it. Buddhists believe that one can get over the cycle of birth-rebirth only with their good deeds. 

Unlike Buddhism, Taoism focuses on worshipping deities. Although Lao Tzu isn’t a God, the Taoists worship deities and suggest that it’s the universe’s order. Hence, Taoists believe in achieving the balance between themselves and the universe around them. It is believed that once they reach balance, they can get immortality. The concept of evil is non-existent in Taoism. 

Tao is considered to be the supreme power. In Buddhism and Taoism, people believe in the concept of reincarnation. However, they differ in the fact that Buddhism believes that one must follow good deeds to ensure better birth or achieving Nirvana.

On the other hand, Taoism believes that the soul is eternal, and with time, the soul will become one with the Tao. However, Buddhists deny God’s existence and do not believe in the concept of Life after death. 

Both Taoism and Buddhism are focused on the concept of visiting shrines to offer prayer to deities. 

 

Taoism and Buddhism in China believe in the concept of Life after death. Nonetheless, Taoism believes that the soul exists after death and may experience the new Life. However, Buddhism neglects the idea of the existence of the soul. This difference is a further difference in the two branches of Buddhism- Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism. 

The Connection of Buddhism and Confucianism

Confucianism in China was not at all welcoming about Buddhism in China. Even today’s time, both religions tend to maintain a symbiotic relationship, where one does not exist without the other. 

Confucianism in China is predominant across Southeast Asia and Eastern Asia. It is more of relocation and hierarchical diffusion. According to the Confucianists, people are responsible for making their fate. Only when one is dedicated and loyal to themselves can they truly achieve the higher power in their Life.

Confucius brought the philosophy of Confucianism. They help you determine how one lives a peaceful and faithful life. It is the ethnic religion of China that hasn’t traveled from anywhere. Hence, many people in China still follow the concept of Confucianism. 

Buddhism, on the other hand, is a religion that traveled to China from India. Buddhism began in Northern India and eventually spread to other parts of the world. Unlike many religions, Buddhism is neither polytheistic nor monotheistic. Over the years, with the increase in popularity, Buddhism became widespread in Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, and China. 

 

Even in today’s time, Confucianism and Buddhism in China hold up their extreme popularity. Many people prefer practicing these religions in conjunction with each other. However, Buddhism is a universal religion, while Confucianism is ethnic religion. It is for this reason, Buddhism is whole-heartedly accepted. 

Chinese Buddhism
Buddha statue and Chinese deities painting on wall

Buddhism in China today

The lexicon of Buddhism has made it one of the most popular religions. However, it is necessary to determine that Buddhism has also become one of China’s most prominent “businesses” with time. 

While many kings have worked on depleting and bringing down Buddhism, it can be beneficial since Buddhism has become a business, as people are resorting to spiritual Life. The combination of communism and capitalism has played an essential role in bringing meaning to Life for the Chinese people. The Communist Party in China has a very welcoming attitude regarding Buddhism. 

Nonetheless, the Chinese Communist Party has bestowed faith. Yet, raising funds for restoring temples regarding Buddhism is pretty risky. It is necessary to bring better religious clarity into the religion. The Chinese constitution is focused on upholding religious integrity. However, the involvement of political parties may limit the virtue of  religion. 

There’s a constant struggle about the campaigning of the religion. As per the survey, the People’s Republic of China has a population of 1.3 billion. Further surveys have shown that around 20% of this population follows Buddhism. Hence, it can be stated that Buddhism is very much found in China, with Chinese people integrating it into their religious beliefs. 

How is Buddhism practiced in China?

One of the most common misconceptions revolves around how Buddhism is practiced in China. Many people believe that Buddhism in China is similar to that of India and other places. Nonetheless, it is necessary to determine that it is not. Buddhism in China differs from that around the world.

Chinese follow Buddhism along with Taoism. Chinese Buddhists believe in paying homage to their gods and ancestors. In China, the Buddhists pray to Taoist gods as well as Buddha. Hence, the practice of offering tribute to the ancestors is done in the belief that they might need and want the help.

The annual Qingming Festival of China is one of the most celebrated ones. Huge ceremonies and festivals are held during this time. 

In China, one needs to take refuge in Buddha to be freed of the sins. Hence, they must follow the path of Dhamma, meditation, monasticism. The cultivation of Paramitas is widely observed in Chinese Buddhism. Furthermore, they believe in the concept of offering prayers at the grotto, temple, and pagoda. 

Most people in China in today’s world follow the concept of Taoism and Buddhism. However, as far as Buddhism is concerned, they follow the concept of Mahayana Buddhism. Over the years, Buddhism has only flourished in China. Nonetheless, it is being anticipated that Buddhism is gradually in a declining phase. Furthermore, the coming in of political party influences affects the rise of Buddhism in China. 

How did Buddhism influence Chinese culture?

Taoism and Confucianism are the widely accepted religions in China. Moreover, they were native to the country. The coming in of Buddhism seemed to have been challenged. However, Buddhism in China adopted ideologies from each of them to ensure proper development.

Buddhism’s introduction in China was made when it was more of a philosophy and not a religion. Hence, Taoism was on the rise as well. The integration between them eventually led to the development and transformed the Chinese culture, though.

Therefore, the adoption of these two religions finally gave way to the development of support. Over 2000 years, Buddhism shaped the morality, arts, philosophy, and literature of the region.

Hence, apart from Daoism and Confucianism, Buddhism became a widely accepted culture and a significant part of the three pillars. It had a significant impact on philosophy, religious beliefs, and art and architecture. 

 

Buddhism was a foreign religion whose integration was more of a challenging issue. Nonetheless, the integration did seem to be successful as it helped people resort to meditation. It shaped the religious belief of the people and helped everyone reach proper conclusions. Buddhism in China allowed bringing revolutions that weren’t necessarily observed in China. 

Buddhism in China timeline
Buddhist monument in Jiuhuashan, China

Why was Buddhism appealing to the Chinese?

As stated above, Buddhism in China wasn’t appealing to the people at all. Instead, they were looking out for ways to get rid of it. While it traveled to China via the Silk Road, the residents and kings weren’t accepting religion. However, the institutionalized concept of personal Gods can be one of the potential reasons for Buddhism’s spread in China. 

One of the main reasons why Buddhism eventually became appealing to the Chinese was its compatibility with other existing theories and religious beliefs in China. Many people in China initially viewed Buddhism as a suspicious foreign philosophy. At that time, Taoism wasn’t developed to religion and was a mere philosophy.

Confucianism was existing as a religion. Hence, Buddhism’s beliefs were in contradiction with Confucianism, which is why many people disregarded it. 

 

Chinese people weren’t ready to adopt monkhood, one of the fundamental principles for people following Buddhism. However, people failed to understand that to accept Buddhism. One shouldn’t necessarily be following monkhood.

The teachings were to be followed irrespective of background and status. Accordingly, you could follow Buddhism even when you were married without disrespecting or breaking the laws. 

 

Buddhism was one of those religions in China that were preached and practiced irrespective of one’s caste. Furthermore, it preached the idea of breaking free from the cycle of birth and rebirth. It is stated that this cycle of freedom would eventually help to achieve Nirvana or salvation. It promoted the idea of Buddhahood for people belonging to the lower strata of the society too. 

Another reason why Buddhism eventually became accepted in China was that it was not monotheistic. Unlike many other religions, Buddhism did not promote the idea of following only one religion or path.

Moreover, it did not disrespect the religious ideals of other faiths too. These were the fundamental principles for Taoism also. Since Buddhism and Taoism are so intertwined, the Buddhists were allowed to enter Taoists’ temples and worship their deities. 

What are the differences between Buddhism in China and India/Tibet/Thailand?

Chinese Buddhism is very different from that existent in South East Asia. Buddhism in Southeast Asia results from the development via two traditions, such as Mahayana Buddhism and Theravada Buddhism. 

Mahayana Buddhism is widely accepted in China and India. However, in China, Buddhism is followed along with the pre-existing religions such as Confucianism and Taoism. Nonetheless, Theravada Buddhism is widely accepted in South East Asian countries like Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Thailand. The Chinese influence in Vietnam eventually contributed to the popularity of Mahayana Buddhism.

As stated, Mahayana Buddhism is followed across Chinese communities of Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. The Chinese diaspora has played an essential role in the spread of Mahayana Buddhism across other places. 

 

Tibetan Buddhism and Chinese Buddhism are, however, two different practices. Although it is focused on breaking from the cycle of birth-rebirth, the rules are different. 

The Buddhism practices include Hinayana and Mahayana practices. Nonetheless, Tibetan Buddhism is focused on Vajrayana practices. Tibetan Buddhism brings forth a widespread and diverse practice, so many Chinese people prefer Tibetan Buddhism practices. Furthermore, Tibetan rituals are straightforward to follow. 

 

The difference between Indian, Tibetan, Thai Buddhism, and Chinese Buddhism lies in its enlightenment approaches. The Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism further play an essential role in describing the difference. 

How many Buddhists are in China?

Currently, there are around 250 million practitioners of Buddhism in China. China is said to have around the largest population of Buddhists, as per the reports. Buddhism is the dominant religion across different countries like Tibet, Laos, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Around 18.2% of the population in China follow Buddhism. 

Is Buddhism allowed in China today?

One of the most commonly asked questions is if Buddhism is allowed in China. Yes, it is along with other religions. 

 

China’s government officially recognizes five religions such as Taoism, Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism, and Protestantism. However, Chinese folk religion and Confucianism have been integrated in Chinese cultural inheritance. 

How many Buddhist temples are there in China?

There are several Buddhist temples in China. It is spread across Fujian, Beijing, and Anhui. There isn’t an exact number of Buddhist temples in China, for there are many. As Buddhism is one of the main religions in China, there are several of them. 

 

Some of the significant Buddhist temples in China include the following.

          • Huacheng Temple
          • Big Bell Temple or the Juesheng Temple
          • Zhihua Temple
          • Wanshou Temple
          • Guangji Temple
          • Jietai Temple
          • Nanshan Temple
          • Dizang Temple
          • Temple of the Six Banyan Trees
          • White Horse Temple
          • Iron Pagoda
          • Youguo Temple
          • Chi Lin Nunnery
          • Tung Lin Kok Yuen
          • Hanshan Temple
          • Kun Iam Temple
          • Four Gates Pagoda
          • Pagoda of Fogong Temple
          • Palyul
          • Foguang Temple

Who is Budai in Chinese?

Budai is one of the most popular monks in China. Also, commonly referred to as Hotei in Japanese and Budai in Chinese, he is a semi-historical monk. The semi-historical monk is also known as Maitreya Buddha, belonging to Chan Buddhism. 

Budai has been introduced in the Japanese Buddhist pantheon. As per history, Budai lived in the Wuyue Kingdom for the 10th century. Budai is also referred to as Fat Buddha or the Laughing Buddha. He was a zen monk. 

Budai is represented as a bold man with a big tummy, a smiling face, and large ears. He wears a simple robe and holds prayer beads, and has a large sack. 

 

Budai is the messenger of peace and generosity. He is the one who speaks of wisdom and kindness. The Laughing Buddha is a sign of positivity. It is said that when one rubs the belly of the Laughing Buddha, good luck comes his way and also brings him prosperity.

Buddhism in China today
Chinese Buddhist Monks Ceremony Hangzhou

Was China a Hindu Country?

China has never been a Hindu country and not even close to it. There was some influence because of the proximity to India. The presence of Hinduism in China has probably existed in the past but in a minimal way. Regarding the ancient period, Arthur Walley wrote in his translation to Tao Te Ching: “I see no reason to doubt, that the ‘holy mountain-men’ (sheng-hsien) described by Lieh Tzu are Indian Rishi; and when we read in Chuang Tzu of certain Taoists who practiced movements very similar to the asanas of Hindu yoga, it is at least a possibility that some knowledge of the yoga technique which these Rishi used had also drifted into China.

Also, archeological evidence from temples discovered in southern China indicates a small Hindu community in the area during the Middle Ages. Today there are a tiny number of people in China that follow and practice Hinduism. Hinduism is not defined as one of the five formal religions in China, but the Chinese authorities allow it.

Is Buddhism Chinese or Indian?

Another commonly asked question is whether Buddhism Chinese or Indian. Siddhartha Guatama was born in northern India in what is today considered Nepal. Buddhism was born in India and from there spread to China and other peoples in Asia. Chinese Buddhism was fused into the local culture and received its unique character, just as it did to him in Tibet, Thailand, Japan, and Korea.

Takeaway

Buddhism in China eventually developed over time. As Buddhism shares its relations with Taoism, Buddhism became ultimately popular. One of the main reasons Buddhism became so popular in China was reincarnation that it shares with other Chinese folk religions. Furthermore, the practices of worship are also similar. Buddhism has had a long history of existence in China. 

An overview of Chinese Cuisine

Like all other significant pillars of Chinese masterpieces, Chinese cuisine contributes a lot to the making of overall Chinese culture. The configuration of Chinese cuisine is an amalgamation of cooking practices originating from diverse regions of China as well as of the Chinese people from other parts of the world.

Inheriting a lot from the cuisines of the other Asian countries, it has, in turn, remarkably influenced the long-carried features of theirs, modifying the local palates in a better way.

The criteria for cooking techniques of different Chinese provinces largely vary due to the distinct historical background sharing, along with the origin and diversity of the ethnic groups.

Climatic variation, from tropical in the south to subarctic in the northeast, coupled with the geographical distribution of China – including mountains, rivers, deserts, and forests – penetrate deeper into the locally available ingredients, affecting the taste and the nutrients composition inexplicably.

The other factors like the imperial, noble, and royal preferences also play a role in transforming Chinese cuisine. The expansion of imperialism and trading, way back in the 18th century, brought cooking techniques from other parts of the world to the Chinese kitchens.

Such is the importance of Chinese cuisine in Chinese Philosophy that food is often used as a component of the figure of speech, to express something indirectly.

Like the Chinese philosopher I Ching puts it, “Gentlemen use eating as a way to attain happiness. They should be aware of what they say and refrain from eating too much.”

The significance of Chinese cuisine is inseparable for the Chinese people. Even in the foreign lands, as the effect of Chinese cuisine is deeply penetrated now, the migrants from China don’t have to rely solely on the local food.

Facts about Chinese Cuisine

Every country has its own set of cooking and eating practices aligned across the centuries-old traditions and unbroken chain of followership, which gets carried generation after generation, to the modern time – just to find itself morphed into a unique state.

So is the story of Chinese cuisine – the oldest and most famous in the world – embedded with a ton load of facts and myths that collectively give it a route into the vast world of food lovers.

10 Crucial Facts about Chinese Cuisine

Tradition and superstition

Traditional Chinese cuisine is dictated a lot by superstitions and age-old traditions. Certain dishes can only be eaten during particular times of the year so that it could bring good luck.

Eat fresh

The Chinese would rather visit the market every day to buy fresh vegetables and meat than live off tinned or canned food. They always prefer to go for fresh seasonal foods.

Eat anything under the sun

Well almost! Starting from raw octopus and dog hotpot to pig’s ears, intestines, snakes and scorpions –anything that foreigners might find unusual are popular in the East Asia cultures.

Rare veggies

The most unfamiliar vegetables have found a place in the incredible Chinese cuisine. Bitter cucumber, tree fungi, and strange weeds are some names that one can possibly translate to relate!

Chinese vegetables

Food boundary

Contrary to our belief, rice is not really the staple for the entire Chinese population. In the colder northern parts of the country, wheat and its derivatives are more popular.

Incredible flavors

The range of flavors in Chinese cuisine varies incredibly worldwide. Flavors keep changing as you travel from one part of China to another.

Chopsticks tax

There is a disposable chopsticks charge in China to curtail the use of 45 billion pairs of chopsticks a year! Now, that’s a whopping amount for sure!

Confusing names

Never go by the names of dishes, to save yourself from getting misled. For instance, if you think “Field Chicken” is your soul food, it is actually a frog dish—note that!

Why chopsticks

Forks and knives (what we use) are considered as weapons in the East Asia cultures and thus deemed inappropriate. Chopsticks were, therefore, invented.

Soup in the end

Soup is the last dish in a full course Chinese meal because it is meant to aid digestion. And in most parts of the world, we begin meals with the soup!

Chinese food list

China’s Regional Cuisines

A perfect monotonous numbing flavor and the ‘sticky rice,’ beers, baijiu and vinegar, and lotus leaf rice set a paradigm for Chinese cuisines, helping it reach every nook and corner of the world.

Irrespective of the culture, geographical climate, history, cooking techniques and lifestyle, the peculiar style and taste – added with loads of nutritious and healthy diet pattern – enriches energy.

The historical irony may hold a lot more value in the culinary aspect as the shift from defining each ingredient in their recipe during the 17th century, has moved to traces of Shandong and Guangdong spices, being added in their food preparations nowadays.

Over time, many immigrants and East Asian cultures have amalgamated into China’s regional cuisines.

Types of regional cuisines in China

  • Western: strong halal food; the main meat is the sheep.
  • Northern: salty, regular; the staple food is wheat and fewer vegetables
  • Central: spicy with seasonings
  • Eastern: sweet and light
  • Southern minority: sour dishes

Cantonese

They serve this style with tea in the last. Multiple varieties of fried, steamed, stewed and baked dim sum are the main serving. Dishes included in this category are rice rolls, lotus leaf rice, turnip cakes, buns, jiaozi-style dumplings, stir-fried green vegetables, congee porridge, soups, etc.

Sichuan

The most common ingredients used are peanuts, sesame paste, chili peppers, and ginger, collectively producing pungency and spiciness into the dishes, in this style.

Anhui

The taste and the offering of this style get boosted with local herbs and vegetables, such as fresh bamboo and mushroom crops.

Shandong

Reliance mostly on seafood; and use of variant culinary techniques is seen in this cuisine.

Fujian

Focused on a good deal of seafood, in this style, food is served in a broth or soup. They prepare the items related to braising, stewing, steaming, and boiling as the main course.

Chinese Cuisine Traditional Foods

If you ever try searching for fried rice and chili chicken in the streets of China, be prepared to feel disappointed.

 Why?

Because these are perhaps among the many dishes you would struggle to find in the list of traditional Chinese dishes. Yes, traditional cuisine in China is incredibly diverse, exciting, and rich—just like their culture; but it is so much more than our all-time favorites ‘chilly chicken and fried rice’!

Wondering what the traditional Chinese dishes are like?

Well, here is a quick list for you to drool over.

Hong Shao Rou

Translated into English, this dish is Red Braised Pork Belly. Originating in Shanghai, this is one of the most ‘drool-worthy’ Chinese dishes that are sure to tickle your taste buds. It is full of varied flavors which are brought in by the use of various aromatic spices, ginger, garlic, chili pepper, soya sauce, sugar, and rice wine.

Main food of China
Red Braised Pork Belly

Peking Duck

A smash hit with both the locals and foreigners in China, Peking Duck or Beijing Duck is a classic dish. It is exceptionally delicious with its eclectic mix of different sauces and succulent duck meat (including the skin). And the best thing is that it is not only available in Beijing, but all throughout China – and in its most authentic form.

Chinese cuisine Pecking duck
A smash hit with both the locals and foreigners in China

Wontons

The origin of Wontons in China can be traced back to the times of the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD) and was eaten customarily during the winter solstice.

These are delectable, quick to prepare, and can be cooked using different stuffing of either vegetables or minced meat. You can either try the fried wontons as scrumptious snacks or taste the soupy variant.

Chinese food Wonton
Classic wonton

Hotpot

This is one of the more versatile Chinese dishes you can easily find all across China. Of course, there are regional variations in the spices and meats that are used to prepare this dish. Bound to be a great choice to keep yourself warm in the colder regions, hotpot is widely welcomed throughout the year. If you love super spicy food, you must try this dish!

Chinese hot pot

In China, the tastes and aromas of traditional foods vary as you move from one province to another. You have to try them to cherish them!

Eating with Kids in China—What you need to know

Traveling with kids is an enjoyable experience as long as one knows how to keep them safe and healthy during the trip. It is very important to pay attention to their meals, especially while traveling.

Taking kids to the right restaurants

The most important requirement for choosing a restaurant is hygiene. Restaurants should have hygiene licenses. Most lavish restaurants provide baby-seats to seat the younger kids comfortably. Cities like Shanghai and Beijing have kids-themed restaurants for them, to keep up the excitement going.

Choose among the popular dishes according to your kids’ taste

Not all Chinese dishes may be palatable to them. There are lots of common dishes that you can choose from, like dumplings, noodles, fried rice, sweet and sour pork, egg roll, etc. For young kids, it is better to avoid fish, uncooked food, and street food in China.

Helping them wait

Chinese restaurants might take a long time in serving food. Helping kids to stay occupied can make the wait easier.

Use of proper Tableware

Keep a check if the tableware has been cleaned properly. Using chopsticks might not be a great idea, so you can always ask for a spoon while having a meal.

Most Popular Chinese Dishes

In China, the traditional way to greet anyone (if translated in English) means “Have you eaten yet?” So in a country like this, you can rest assured that the food will be amazing and mouthwatering.

Chinese food is gaining its popularity all over the world, because of its authentic taste and the ingredients used to make the dishes. A lot of fresh vegetables are used to cook the meal which makes the dish tastier. Sauces and seasoning are also used to provide a great blend of flavor and aroma.

Listed below are some of the most popular Chinese Dishes:

Jiaozi

It is also called Chinese dumpling, having a history of around 2000 years. Dumplings are truly one of the most known Chinese dishes and they deserve to be among the best top 5 dishes.

It is made up of ground meat and/or vegetables filled in it, and it is wrapped into a roll which is a piece of dough, which it is then sealed by tightening the edges.

Jiaozi traditional Chinese food
History of 2000 years

It is one of the most eminent foods in Spring Festival and Winter Solstice. There is a lot of variety in Chinese dumplings as they are stuffed with sugar, date, peanut or walnut. You can eat one according to your choice but all of them are equally tasty.

Mapo Tofu

This dish is very popular throughout China, and it is typically a Sichuan Cuisine. The name of this dish was named after a spotted woman (in Chinese, it is called “Mapo”) as that lady was famous for preparing relishing stir-fried tofu in Chengdu.

Mapo Tofu China food culture
Atypical Sichuan Cuisine

Main ingredients used to make this dish are tofu, chili peppers, ground beef/pork, and Sichuan peppers.

It is said that China tour is incomplete without tasting this spicy Sichuan food, starting with Mapo Tofu. It’s difficult to avoid the freshly made and tender tofu with a good spicy chili sauce which is made of ground meat, a broad bean paste, and wild peppers.  Sichuan Sauce, along with it, makes it even more delicious!

Wonton

No matter wherever you plan to visit China, you’ll always get ample opportunities to taste this popular Chinese dish. They are soft, still, firm bundles of flavor, whether you eat them steamed, fried, or maybe floating in the broth. In all the ways, wontons taste amazingly great.

Chinese food list with pictures

Very easy in form and filling, the wrapper of the wonton is made up of superior flour by the process kneading and fermentation. It is made special by plentiful fillings, like pork and other meats such as shrimps, and are also filled with fresh vegetables. There are wontons for every kind of taste.

Sauteed Sweet and Sour Pork

Sweet and Sour Tenderloin Pork are said to be the classic cuisines in China. Sweet and Sour Pork of Shandong Cuisine is very famous in China.

Types of Chinese food
sweet and sour at the same time

The main material of the dish is pork tenderloin. First, the meat is mixed with starch and flour; then, it is deep-fried in the oil until the surface of it turns golden. Then they stir-fry the meat and prepare the sweet and sour sauce.

This cuisine tastes sour and sweet and is very crispy outside and from inside, it is soft, so it can stimulate any person’s appetite. Sautéed Sweet and Sour Pork Tenderloin, is found on menus all over the country, as it highlights the versatility and regional blaze from every province.

Spring Rolls

Who does not know about this Chinese Dish? Spring rolls symbolize wealth and prosperity, as their color and shape are like a gold bar.

The skin of the Spring Rolls is made up of white flour, water, and salt; the fillings are usually made of ground meat or red bean paste and then they are deep-fried in hot oil till the color of the skin becomes golden. The outer part of the Spring Rolls is very crisp and the fillings of it are tender and fragrant.

Spring roll Shandong cuisine
Symbolize wealth and prosperity

So, include these dishes in your list and whenever you get a chance, you should undoubtedly try them as they are full of fresh vegetables and meat. And not to forget the Chinese sauces which add to the flavor and aroma of the food. So, never miss a chance to taste the real and traditional Chinese food as it is very different from the food that you might have eaten.

Chinese Soups and their categories

Chinese cuisines are well known as they are very different and original because of the various cultures and regions which make up China. Because of such diversity, Chinese food has become very famous globally, and especially Chinese soup.

Chinese chefs are also in demand all around the world as it is very difficult to make Chinese soup without the required skill and expertise. The creativity of Chinese chefs has made it viable to come up with such a fantastic assortment of Chinese soups which are distinct in flavors and texture.

Broadly the Chinese soups have been divided into two categories—these are thin soups and thick soups.

Let us know more about them

Thin Soup

Thin soups are usually prepared from a clear broth that is cooked very quickly and in it, the ingredients are added at the end.

Mostly thin soup is served as a beverage in China as it is believed that this soup is a very good appetizer. Thin soup is usually chicken or spinach soup which is served as a beverage or in banquets between courses.

Thick Soup

On the contrary, thick soups are cooked by putting all the ingredients in one go and get cooked in a slow process, in order to blend the flavors aptly. After that, cornstarch is also added to make the soup thick.

Thick soup is usually served for lunch or dinner as it makes a great dish, specifically for lunch as this soup is very filling. Few of the thick soups are sharks’ fin soup, hot and sour soup served with mu shu pork as these soups are served as a proper meal which has no other dishes.

All the Chinese soups have stock added in them. The stock is prepared by boiling vegetables, meat, and bones into a liquid porridge so that it can release the flavor. The stock is also made from, at times, a whole chicken, bones, and gourmet. Whichever Chinese soup you drink whether thin or thick, both types of soups are really good for health.

Alcoholic Beverages

A perfect blend of fermented beverages with main ingredients such as fruits, berries, grains – along with ingredients such as plant saps, tubers, honey, and milk – extracts sugar. The diluted water imparts much of the tastes into the liquid, to yield greater alcoholic strength.

Alcoholic beverages—such as Beer, Cider, Wine, and Spirit—are in regular use from around 10,000 BC.

“An alcoholic beverage can refer to any liquor or brew that contains alcohol.”  When we talk about wine, it has been in use for past 8,000 years and the innovation traversed upon many miles to reach another part of the world through the human fleet migration.

Beer and wine are not the end of innovations in alcohol but continued with modernization in the form known as spirits.

The most preferred alcoholic beverages in China:

Huangjiu

Despite its name, Huangjiu is a ‘yellow wine’ brewed using grains. Further, the brewed grains is pasteurized and bottled later. The appearance looks clear, beige, and yellowish. The presence of alcoholic content is 15% to 20%.

This is one among the oldest Chinese alcoholic drinks prepared from ingredients such as water, cereals; and grains such as rice, millet, wheat, sorghum. It tastes mellow and sweet.

Its major production is in mainland China and Taiwan. Huangjiu contains many amino acids which are essential for health.

Baijiu

Baijiu preparation has been in use since 1368. They use sorghum-based shaojiu and refer to it as “Chinese vodka”. This enriches very strong flavors.

Baijiu is a sauce-scented prestigious brand available within China and in local terms, they say it as “Mao-t’ai”. It contains alcohol that ranges between 28% and 65%. They call it ‘white alcohol’ as it is a clear liquid.

Chinese wine
A glass and bottle of Jiugui (酒鬼; pinyin: jiǔ guǐ; lit. “drunkard” or “alcoholic”; also called Sot), a brand of baijiu

Beer

Beer is served brewed in Chinese cuisine. Beer is very famous and well-known since the 9600 B.C. Its preparation is complicated, taking the mixture of multi-varied starches which starts from fermenting malted barley, rice, wheat, or maize, for the formation. Cider is a festered apple juice. They serve it as a starter drink in a few styles of Chinese cuisine.

Chinese beer

Wine

Different cuisines of China have different names for wine: these are Changyu Pioneer Wine, China Great Wall Wine, and Dynasty Wine. These are more commonly noticed in the regions of Yantai, Beijing, and Ningxia; Zhangjiakou in Hebei, Yibin in Sichuan, Tonghua in Jilin, Taiyuan in Shanxi.

They traditionally extract wine from musles to prepare Uyghur drink. Also, in the last eight years, a controversial preparation known as Tiger Bone Wine has gained tremendous popularity among the public.

Chinese Cuisine Noodles – Easy and Tasty

Noodles are considered as the main food in China. There is a numerous variety of noodles available in different regions of China. Every area of China provides various kinds of noodles, with its different techniques and flavors. Not only in China but noodles are also popular worldwide.

Noodles are an essential and primary need in Chinese cooking. Chinese noodles generally fluctuate as indicated by the area of preparation, fixings, shape or width, and way of arrangement.

Chinese noodles

The inception of Chinese noodles set foot in the Han tradition having a history of over 4,000 years.

Furthermore, the creation of noodles and their large-scale manufacturing have significantly changed the way of doing noodle business globally and China for that matter. Fundamentally, noodles are a sort of oat nourishment which is the principal body of the conventional Chinese eating regimen.

Why is Chinese Cuisine noodles so popular?

1. Cheap

Noodle is popular in East Asian culture because it costs dirt cheap.

2. Easy and Convenient

Noodles are one of the most convenient and easy things to cook and do not even require much cooking expertise. You just have to boil the water and pour the noodles into it. The heat and the packaged spices do rest of the work, leaving a tongue-tickling taste. It’s as simple as that.

3. Quick Meal

Noodles get prepared in a fraction of minutes and save the maker’s time. The people who come from the office, and tired, do not have much energy to cook. So, instead of ordering from outside, they prefer preparing noodles because the preparation is as quick as setting up the initials for a hefty dinner cooking.

4. Variety of flavors

It’s difficult to get bored with noodles, as these come in different flavors.

5. Ways to cook

You can combine noodles with any vegetable and cook differently, as experimenting with food always enhances the taste. As these come in a lot of varieties, it’s hard for one to get bored with the taste.

6. Perfect for Lazy people

Noodles are an appropriate meal for lazy people, as noodles do not take much effort, and get prepared in a short time.

Noodles are produced using fixings. However, the setting in which these are created and expanded inside Italy and China, fills the noodles with extraordinary tasty features and characters.

Noodles are a Chinese item but have got popular worldwide. These can be served with gravy or eaten dried.

Chinese Cuisine History

Chinese cuisine is one of the most amazing culinary cultures. Chinese cuisine is a term used for dishes made in various regions of China. With superb technology and unique style, it also has a great history. It has a profused impact on East Asian cultures.

Chinese food came into existence thousands of years ago in East Asia. As different regions have a different style of cooking, Chinese food originates from the various areas of China but does not come from the whole country.

Chinese Cuisine across various dynasties

In Zhou Dynasty, approx. more than 5000 years ago, millet and brown rice, or beans, were the major foods. But these staple foods were not the same as the Chinese have today. At that time, people have had white rice which was very expensive and rarely available.

The famous cuisine in Zhou dynasty was Ba Zheng. In Qin dynasty, they introduced sour flavor which was mainly an odor extracted from fish and meat. They also started using Vinegar and cinnamon powder at that time.

In the Han dynasty, people introduced salty flavor, and a big step was taken for Chinese cooking in the Han dynasty. Many cooking ingredients and imported eatables were also brought, such as walnut, cucumber, lettuce. In the Han dynasty, the Chinese cuisine witnessed a rapid development.

In Tang dynasty, by that period, people already had developed a quality level and had started living their lives fancily.

In Song dynasty, schools of cuisines like South, Chuan or North came into existence. In Qing, Yuan, and Ming dynasty, it was a significant development stage, as the foreign intrusions came up with hundreds of fresh cuisines. Islamic followers moved to China and made Halal as a new way of treating meats.

This Qing dynasty was ruled by Manchu people; so in Chinese cuisine, the influence of all Manchu styles and flavors came into the picture. As Ming dynasty was also there, so they bought plants of chili and pepper in China and named the plant as a fancy flower.

Chinese people didn’t take much enthusiasm in knowing its value. In Sichuan and Hunan, the flavor of spice became popular in no time and left its profound effect. With time, there were Chinese cuisine schools. Some western cuisines were also introduced by late Qing dynasty.

The Major transformation in Chinese Food

Since China converted into communist in 1949, there were many problems with grain. Later with time, almost 40% were handed over to the Government, and this handing over became a major reason in causing widespread famine.

Since 1979, with the founding of the People’s Republic of China, excellent results have been gained by Chinese cuisine. In the list of restaurants, traditional cuisines started showing up and with time, more variety of cuisines have been added to the list.

After the 1990s, there have been tremendous improvements in terms of the food situation; also, the Islamic food of Chinese has also been enhanced.

For its color, design, flavor, and fragrance, Chinese cuisine has become famous worldwide. The wide assortment of famous cuisines includes Lu, Huaiyang, Chuan and Cantonese. To wrap in a line, for the worldwide foodies, Chinese food is a lot more than just dim sums and fried rice!

How To Order Food In Restaurants In China

Are you a huge fan of Kung-Fu movies and Chinese cuisine?

Well, a trip to China is bound to be fulfilling for you, both for experiencing the East Asia culture up close and for tucking into incredible Chinese dishes! And the best way to experience both of these elements is by visiting the local Chinese restaurants.

To help you cherish the real cultural exposure, here is how you can order food in China restaurants.

Ordering the food

After the customary Chinese tea is served on arrival, you will be handed the menu or 菜单 (caidan / (pronounced) tseye-dan).

One common catch-word that you can memorize is “I want” i.e. 我要 – wǒ yào.

For instance, if you want a plate of rice, then you have to say “I would like to order for rice” i.e.

我想订购米饭 – Wǒ xiǎng dìnggòu mǐfàn.

Or if you don’t want MSG or Ajinomoto in your food, you can specify that too by saying –

我不想要味精 – Wǒ bùxiǎng yào wèijīng.

Now, what if you are a vegan?

If you love to experiment, then you can go ahead and taste exciting Chinese cuisine that includes almost everything that can move. But that does not mean that vegans and vegetarians are in danger!

If you are a strict vegan, all you need to do is just specify that you don’t want meat in your food, simple.

And you do that by saying 我不想要肉 – Wǒ bùxiǎng yào ròu.

If you want fries, ask for 薯条 – shǔ tiáo.

And to order for a Coke, just say 可乐 – kě lè.

Asking for the bill

After finishing your food, you simply need to call out to your waiter by asking for the bill – 请带上账单 – Qǐng dài shàng zhàngdān.

A culture tip

Remember to always avoid 4 or 7 dishes while placing an order. In Chinese Culture, these numbers are related to death and superstitions, so these are seldom used.

Ordering food in restaurants in China is overall simple, so you can look forward to a gastronomically enriching trip there.

Main Spices and Herbs Used in Chinese Cuisine

Chinese spices and herbs are mostly used in a small amount to make the recipes better, produce a subtle flavor, depth, and also a different kick which you might not get from anything else.

Let us see which are the spices and herbs that make the Chinese cuisines relishing

Ginger

Ginger is the most common ingredient, which is easily available in the market. It’s always recommended to make use of only fresh ginger as it gives a great flavor and aroma which makes the Chinese dishes mouthwatering. It is an indispensable spice, which can add heat and great flavor to vegetables, soup, and meat.

Five-Spice Powder

This five-spice powder comprises the ingredients including cassia, fennel seeds, anise pepper, star anise, and cloves. The mix of these separate spices is aromatic and also, not too hot. Well, you can also try to make a usable powder, by using equal quantities of each of these; however, in Chinese cuisines, these are also used in a different amount, according to the dish they want to prepare.

Cassia Bark

Also known as cinnamon, this spice is from Sri Lanka. These rolled-up quills are lovely and have a great flavor which lasts longer. They are mostly in large pieces and can also be picked out of the food easily. Cassia bark is usually used for sweet dishes but gives a completely different aroma to Chinese cuisines.

Cassia Bark

Bay Leaf

It is a spice which is very popular in making Chinese cuisines. Chinese people mostly use a bay leaf in cooking meat as bay leaf gets rid of the odor when used in meat. Few people also like using bay leaves in Chinese pickled vegetables.

Chinese spice bay leaf

Chenpi

This is the favorite spice of many people, which is used in making Chinese dishes. It is a sun-dried tangerine peel. Chenpi provides the food a citrus flavor and gives a punch to it by making the food taste even more interesting and refreshing.

For Western people, these spices can bring a new taste to the kitchen. Try these in your kitchen, to feel the difference in your local and Chinese dishes.

Chenpi Chinese spicy

Chinese Cuisine Tools and Equipment

Isn’t it really intriguing, how easily the Chinese folks prepare such lip-smacking food?

How they stir up magic in minutes with all those different pieces of utensils, is really worth watching. And if you have always wanted to know what makes it so easy breezy for them, then here are the most useful Chinese cuisine equipment.

The Wok

Generally made of heavy iron or steel, the wok or chǎoguō/chaoww-gwor is perhaps the most important piece of a utensil. It is widely used in every Chinese household and restaurant. The shape and the size of the wok are chosen as per the dish that is prepared.

Click the picture for more details.

A Ladle

Ladles can be made out of different metals and materials, even bamboo. It is essential for transferring stew or soups from a wok to bowls.

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Wok Shovel

Remember the delicious Chinese stir-fried dishes? Well, those are cooked in the wok using a wok shovel.

It is another really important piece of utensil in Chinese kitchens.

Click the picture for more details.

A Cleaver

Usually manufactured from high carbon and stainless steel, a Chinese cleaver is used by the chefs to slice and dice different food items. Cleavers are specially designed to chop meat.

Click the picture for more details.

Rice Cooker

Since rice is a very popular staple in China, every household there has rice cookers. These electrically operated utensils are very heat efficient and can also be used to prepare porridge, stewing meat, heating foods.

Click the picture for more details.

Steaming Basket

Steaming baskets are perfect for preparing all the non-fried dishes. Whether it is for steaming dumplings, pancakes, fish, meat or vegetables, these steaming baskets are of great utility. These are either made out of bamboo or from metals.

Click the picture for more details.

Chopping Board

And, last but not least, Chinese chefs cannot make do without chopping boards. These not only protect the kitchen counter-tops while they chop and cut ingredients but also help to maintain hygiene and swiftness of cooking.


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2021 -The YearOf The Ox

The bull or cow symbolized in the ancient world the foundation of the earth. The bull is the animal used for plowing the land, threshing, and producing meat, and hence it was attributed traits such as perseverance, determination, and diligence.

The cow’s milk and meat used for food represented qualities such as nourishment, giving, and generosity. Their heavy body structure and slow and cyclical motion gave them features attributed to the earth element’s movement. Many myths and rituals were woven around these two animals.

According to Chinese philosophy, the energy of the earth affects us on two levels:
This energy symbolizes acceptance, fertility, nourishment, perseverance, giving, and stability on the first level.

On the second level, it represents the issue of transitions between periods and time planes in life. The image of this year corresponds to the element of the earth and the energy that characterizes it. This is a time that symbolizes new and fresh opportunities and beginnings.

Connecting to the earth brings up the following picture: Perseverance, confidence, and stability, as well as a sense of mental and physical nourishment, are the basis for our ability to accommodate changes and respond to them flexibly.

Nutrition includes a message of balance and health. To nourish the body with quality food that will maintain its cleanliness and vitality, we must anticipate and clean the soil we live in and the water sources that seep into it from old toxins and nourish it with pure substances.

In parallel, the liver, representing the earth this year, is the body’s heaviest organ. It contains the blood and purifies it. To work correctly, we must clean it of existing toxins and be careful not to burden it with additional toxins. This year the body is in dire need of it.

The beginning of the Chinese year, the earthly bull, is an opportunity to renew and connect to new forces, seek for ourselves unique qualities, and stabilize and not lose our direction in life. This is an excellent time to find the balance between movement and change and stability and grounding, renewal, and digestion of the existing.

Chinese New Year - Everything You Need To Know

Chinese New Year—often termed as Lunar New Year—is considered one of the most important events for Chinese people.

Unlike the beginning of a New Year devised based on the Gregorian Calendar, the Chinese Year signifies a New Year in the traditional Chinese calendar.

According to the Chinese calendar, which dates back to over 4,000 years, the fourth edition marks the Pig Year. A bit about the arrival of the Chinese New Year falls the commencing of the crop cycle, which signals the winter’s completion and a signal to welcome a new season.

Compared to the Gregorian Calendar, which works on the principles of the solar calendar, Chinese New Year takes the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar into account, whose dates symbolize both the time of the solar year and the phase of the moon.

The dates of the two calendars vary as the Lunar months fall short by two days regarding the magnitude of the Solar month. To close the gap between the two calendars, every few years, a month is added to the Chinese calendar.

Because the Chinese New Year depends on the lunar calculation, there has been designated no fixed value for the inauguration of a fresh start, i.e., the New Year. Still, it mostly falls between 21 January and 20 February.

The Chinese New Year represents moving away from the previous year and stepping in the new lunar year, doing good in health, prosperity, happiness, and fortune.

It’s a time that the entire nation collectively celebrates with a notion to catch up with the ups and downs of family members, celebrate fireworks, share gifts, and enjoy good food.

Chinese new year celebration
Chinese New Year celebration

Chinese New Year signifies breaking those chains associated with the old year that held one back and opened the window of freshness to welcome good fortune and a ton of luck.

With Chinese diaspora presence across the globe, the Chinese New Year is celebrated not just in Asia but worldwide.

According to the Chinese Zodiac, which consists of 12 animal signs, each new year tallies with one of those 12 animals. The 2019 Chinese New Year is the Year of the Pig and will continue for 15 consecutive days. Out of this period, the initial two or three days of the festival are granted as a public vacation in China and differs from country to country in the different parts of the world.

Chinese New Year zodiac (credit: Jakub Hałun)

A complete day-by-day decode of 15-day Chinese New Year Activities

Day One Chinese New Year’s Eve

Activities

            • Celebrating the Beginning of the Year
            • Welcoming guests with sweet treats and tea
            • Eat Dumplings
            • Reunion Dinner
            • Set off Fireworks and Firecrackers
            • Distribute Red Envelopes
            • Stick Spring Festival Couplets
Dumplings for the Chinese New Year dinner

Message

The first day fills the Chinese people with a new start and dumping the old ones. It brings a message of hope, refreshment, wealth increment, happiness, and prosperity.

Chinese New Year - Day Two

Activities

          • Visit the wife’s family
          • Eat wonton
          • Pray to the ancestors and gods
Praying in Chinese temple
2nd Day, praying to the ancestors

Message

For married men, this day is devoted to visiting and meeting married women’s parents. Married women visit their birth parents to pay respect and distribute gifts.

Chinese New Year - Day Three

Activities

        • Stay at home
        • Relaxing

Message

On the third day of the New Year, Chinese people avoid moving out. They believe in the ideology that the third day is generally unlucky, and it gives rise to quarrels and disputes, so they avoid meeting outsiders such as relatives and friends.

This is superstitious, though. In fact, after a busy two-day celebration, they like to relax and prepare for the next day’s adventures.

Chinese New Year - Day Four

Activities

          • Worship the Gods
          • Big dinner preparation

Message

This is believed to be when Gods of food and wealth descend from heaven to visit earth. Especially for entrepreneurs, this day is of prime importance as they try to impress and win favor with the Gods.

Chinese gods
Pray to the gods

On this day, people prepare for a big feast and the main dishes are three types of meat—fish, pork, and chicken—along with fruits and alcohol.

Chinese New Year - Day Five

Activities

        • Break Taboos
        • The celebration of the birthday of the God of wealth
        • Cleaning, sweeping, and emptying the trash.
        • Eat Dumplings

Message

On this day, breaking the taboos, people clean the shreds of firecrackers-produced read papers, and empty the trash. It’s the day on which they celebrate the birthday of the God of wealth. To welcome this God, people open the windows and doors shortly after midnight.

Chinese New Year - Day Six

Activities

          • Discard all the rubbishes present in the house
          • Say goodbye to the ghost of poverty.
          • Throw away old clothes and stuff

Message

After welcoming the wealth of God, on the sixth day, people clean their houses and discard all old clothes and stuff that are no longer functioning and only occupying space. They clean all areas of the house, including the garage and storerooms.

Chinese New Year - Day Seven

Activities

          • Birthday of Human
          • Eat longevity noodles
          • Eat healthy foods
          • Go back to work

Message

On the seventh day, people celebrate the birthday of the human. They commemorate Nu Wa, who is considered to have separated earth from heaven and humans’ creator, using yellow clay. They prepare seven types of vegetables and rice to make porridge, to celebrate the birthday of humans.

Chines god Nu Wa
Nu Wa, Chinese creator goddess

Chinese New Year - Day Eight

Activities

          • Celebrate the birthday of rice

Message

Chinese people find it important to share with their children where most of their food comes from. So, they visit the nearby farms and fields with their children to educate them about rice’s significance, the staple food of China.

Chinese people find it important to share with their children where most of their food comes from. So, they visit the nearby farms and fields with their children to educate them about rice’s significance, the staple food of China.

Chinese New Year - Day Nine

Activities

          • The celebration of the day of Jade Emperor

Message

They sacrifice a chicken in honor of the Jade Emperor. Feasting and offerings are also done.

Chinese New Year - Day Ten to Twelve

Day ten through twelve is not of paramount importance for the Chinese people, so they do regular activities like meeting friends and relatives, feasts, drinking, and celebrations.

Chinese new year Jade emperor
Jade Emperor

Day Thirteen and Fourteen

Since the New Year celebration commencement, they all keep eating heavy food, so, on these two days, they try to balance their diet and prepare veg foods like rice and vegetables.

Chinese new year food
Trying to get less of the heavy food...

Also, as the lantern day is anytime soon now, they spend most of the time shopping for the lantern day and ingredients for tang yuan. Once the shopping gets over, the Chinese people prepare lanterns and make tang yuan.

Chinese New Year - Day Fifteen

Activities

          • Celebrate the lantern festival
          • The first full moon day; marks the end of the New Year celebration.
          • Eating sweet dumplings
          • Fireworks

Message

The fifteenth day is celebrated as the lantern festival. Sky gets loaded with colorful lanterns. Everything gets normal after this day. Some people still enjoy this day as Chinese valentine’s day. The lantern festival’s spirit is to assimilate and appreciate the full moon, which symbolizes reunion and happiness.

Chinese new year Lantern festival
Lantern festival in Singapore

Chinese New Year Greetings

The Chinese New Year fills the Chinese people with a lot of happiness and joy, and the same they reflect such embedded respect and good wishes in a variety of greetings. Acquainting yourself with these greetings empowers you with a sense of feeling to express if you run into a Chinese person and surprise them with your knowledge of their culture.

Like they follow in India, Chinese, too, practice the two versions of ‘you’—one to greet the youngsters and the second to greet the elders. With elders, to show respect, Nín is used, and, in the case of youngsters, nǐ is used.

祝您……           Zhu nín…          I wish you (Older/Respected)

祝你……                     Zhu nǐ …                     Wish you (Younger/Informal)

Greetings for the entire family (especially when you’re addressing a family gathering)

阖家欢乐 Héjiā huānlè The cheerfulness of the whole family
阖家幸福 Héjiā xìngfú Well being of the whole family

Greetings for Business and at work

恭喜发财 Gōngxǐ fācái Happiness and Prosperity
事业有成 Shìyè yǒuchéng Success in your career
升官发财 Shēngguān fācái Win promotion and get rich
平步青云 Píngbù qīngyún Have a grand rise
工作顺利 Gōngzuò shùnlì May your work go smoothly

Chinese New Year Decorations: Traditional and Modern

As the Chinese New Year approaches, people begin to experiment with many decorative materials, like Fu character pictures, Spring Festival couplets, and paper cuttings.

Usually, they start shopping and decorating their houses, streets, and office spaces about one week before. As the New Year comes closer, the walls (interior and exterior) and the doors get jeweled with the modernized forms of adornment materials.

Chinese new year decoration
Chinese new year decoration

Chinese people like red color for the New Year celebration and decoration, so they craft and shop everything red so that the entire surrounding get bathed in the hue of red.

Upside Down Fu characters

The Fu character stands for blessing and good fortune in Chinese. People stick it on or over the walls, with the character reading upside down on the door or window.

They believe the inversion bestows the Fu character a ‘Dao’ meaning which pronounces the same as “coming” in Chinese. Chinese relate the inverted character’s meaning with the fortune’s coming, or the “pouring out” the “good fortune” on them.

Chinese new year decoration - Chinese Fu character
For good luck

So, when a visitor or a family member passes through the door, it implies that good fortune rains over them.

Paper Cuttings

Reflecting expertise in folk art, Chinese people customarily cut out distinct paper designs using scissors and cutting knife.

These paper cuttings hang behind or stick on a transparent surface, like a glass window or glass door.  Paper cuttings symbolize good wishes for the year ahead.

Most people try to morph papers into the shape of the animal that represents a specific year, and some adhere to designing the shape of Fu, Shou, Lu, and Xi, which respectively stands for luck, long-life, wealth, and happiness. The paper can be of any color, but most people prefer the red ones.

Chinese Red Lanterns

Representing a traditional folk handicraft, the bright red lanterns signify the Chinese culture and have established a special place in the Chinese festivals, especially during the Chinese New Year.

Red Lanterns, the most typical Chinese decoration

As the New Year comes to a close, red lanterns are hung in market streets, temples, shops, parks, and households. For its reunion meaning, which Chinese people have devised, red lanterns play a vital role in adding a spark to the celebrations.

Although it comes in various shapes, sizes, and colors, the red color sells the most during the New Year celebration time.

Chinese knot

Chinese knot shares a long history with China. In ancient China, it was merely a thing of recording, which gradually evolved to become a thing of accessories and decorations.

Chinese new year decoration - Chinese knot
Chines Knots (credit: ProjectManhattan)

They are now a widely used element for decoration which people mostly use in the interiors, and share in the form of gifts with friends and relatives.

It’s formed of a single long rope which goes through many knot formation to take the form of a complicated shape, like petals and droopy pendants.

Knots come in various shapes, with a different set of meanings associated with each of them. These are taken as a thing of luck and that’s why it’s extensively used to beautify the houses at New Year.

Chinese New Year Animals Meaning

2021 is the Year of the Ox. This year, the Chinese New Year starting on February 12th, 2021, and lasting until January 30th, 2022. 

It may be a thing of the norm for Chinese people, but for people not of Chinese origin, the association of an animal with a year definitely rings no bell. So, here is the explanation.

The Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the lunar cycle, consists of 12 years. Each year of the lunar calendar is named after an animal, which could be any of the 12 animals.

Every animal signifies specific traits, and it closely associates with the personalities of the people by the years in which they were born.

In the form of animals, the symbols repeat themselves in the following order: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.

After completing one Zodiac cycle, the animals will repeat its meaning for the year the cycle will match up with. Compared to Western astrology, in which the month of the birth decides the fortune of a person, the Chinese zodiac sign depends on how a person takes birth.

As legends wrap it in the form of a story, Buddha called for an animal meeting one day. To which some disobeyed and unheard the Buddha, and some made their attendance for a great celebration.

Those 12 animals which came to the gathering received an honor from Buddha, who named one year of the calendar for each of the animals.

Below is a comprehensive list of all 12 Chinese Zodiac signs, which year they relate, and what each animal indicates?

Pig

People who are born in the year of Pig, have honorable, determined, sociable, and sincere personality traits. On the flip side of the coin, they’re also lazy and clumsy. They like to have less but bonafide friends. Sheep and Rabbit go well with Pig.

Year: 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031

Element: Water

Rooster

The people born in the Rooster Year are taken as honest, independent, confident, punctual, flexible, and energetic. Their partnership lasts long with Snake and Ox.

Chinese year of the rooster
Rooster: independent, confident, punctual, flexible

Years: 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029

Element: Metal

Dog

They’re helpful, loyal, courageous, lively, adaptable, and honest. People born in the Dog year share a long-lasting relationship with those born in the year of Tiger and Horse.

Years: 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030

Element: Earth

Goat (Sheep)

People born in the year of the sheep are considered tasteful, kind, crafty, caring, sensitive, and polite. They partner well with Boar and Rabbit.

Element: Earth

Years: 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027

Monkey

People born in the year of Monkey share an intelligent and witty personality trait, including lucky, smart, charming, and versatile. Their partnership goes long-lasting with Dragon and Rat.

Years: 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028

Element: Metal

Snake

Snakes keep their matters private and are known to be ambitious, intelligent, attentive, decisive, organized, and philosophical. Roosters and Ox fit great with Snake.

Years: 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025

Element: Fire

Rabbit

Rabbits are known to be impulsive, modest, sociable, sensitive, emphatic, and sincere. They don’t do good with meditation. Rabbits fit best with Sheep and Boar.

Years: 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023, 2035

Element: Wood

Tiger

Tigers are known to be as courageous, ambitious, confident, charismatic, and enthusiastic. They’re highly unpredictable and can’t be easily distracted from their decided course of action. Tigers fit great with Horse and Dog.

Years: 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022, 2034

Element: Wood

Rat

The Rat is adaptable, artistic, resourceful, sociable, charming, and intelligent. They’re packed with a curious brain, which pushes them to do something different from the mass. They partner well with Dragon and Monkey.

Years: 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020, 2032

Element: Water

Ox

Oxen are well-tuned with their work, and they’re known for personality traits like strong-built, steady, determined, loyal, reliable, and think carefully before initiating any action. They’ve been known to have going well with Snake and Rooster.

Years: 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021, 2033

Element: Earth

Horse

Horses run great with Dog and Tiger. They’re loyal, courageous, intelligent, popular, and adventurous.

Years: 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026

Element: Fire

Dragon

Dragons are taken as imaginative, artistic, charismatic, smart, confident, and eccentric. They’re dominant and have a bad temper. Rat and Monkey go well with Dragon.

Years: 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024

Element: Earth

5 Cool Chinese New Year Facts

A whopping one-sixth of the world’s population celebrates it

Many regions outside mainstream China find their interest in joining the Chinese New Year celebration. The celebration is also seen in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Philippians, Mauritius, and many North American and European countries.

Sprouting out of the Chinatowns, Chinese New Year has joined the club ‘Most Celebrated Festivals.’

It ushers in the largest human migration around the world

Chinese take the important aspect of the Chinese New Year celebration, which is a reunion every new year. To meet their dears, they return from all corners of the world to their homeland.

Since most youngsters fancy staying in the developed urban areas, they migrate internally to catch up with their parents, causing the largest internal migration on earth.

Every year coincides with a Zodiac Animal

Each lunar cycle spans 60 years and its one-fifth division, i.e., 12 years, is considered as a small cycle which, furthermore, is designated an animal sign out of Dragon, Snake, Tiger, Dog, Monkey, Ox, Horse, Sheep, Rooster, and Pig.

According to Chinese mythology, these signs play a pivotal role in deciding the health status, business performance, and relationship success of an individual.

The color red is used in bulk

According to the old stories, Chinese people believed that the red color keeps the evil spirits at bay and contributes to happiness, wealth, and prosperity.

Exercising their long-running tradition, they decorate their houses with red lanterns and red paper cuttings, along with sticking the red paper onto doors and windows. They get dressed in red outfits and lit up the streets by red lanterns.

And…last but not the least

It’s a day devoted to god prayings

In the old days, Spring Festival originally marked the beginning of crop cycles, so people, with the hope of having a good planting and harvesting season, used to pray Gods.

Depicting their ancestors as a messenger returned to the land of God, they also practiced worshipping their forefathers.

Chinese New Year Traditions Food

Chinese take huge pride in the family gathering and that, too, at the occasion of New Year Eve reunion dinner when it’s of sheer importance to have mandatory attendance.

The presence is taken such passionately that if a family member truly can’t attend the dinner eve, a spare set of plate, besides the existing family members, is placed on the dinner table to notify their absence is being missed.

A myth goes by the monster named Nian, mentioned hereinbefore, who would terrorize the villagers every year, and people would hide in a safe shelter, prepare a feast, and pray for their safety.

Arising out of those myths and some commonly shared trend, foods have found a special place in the New Year celebration, as the major dishes which are produced on the evening dinner is now seen as associated with the good health, wellbeing, promotions, hike in salaries, and business growth.

These are called to hail luck, and good fortune for the Chinese people and are majorly eaten during the 16-day festival season of the CNY. It’s not only the dishes matter but also the method of preparation, ways of serving, and eating them that means a lot for Chinese people.

The most important foods for Chinese New Year Eve are dumplings, Nian Gao, steamed chicken and fish, spring rolls, dumplings, and noodles.

Niangao Chinese new year cake
Nian Gao Chinese new year cake

Steamed Fish

Steamed fish is one of the most important New Year Eve Chinese recipes. Chinese translate fish as Yu (鱼), which sounds (to them) like a word for excess, and in their interpretation, having fish on the dinner table signifies an increment in wealth to them in the next year.

One of the Steamed Fish variations

Unlike other cuisines, they usually prefer to either steam or deep fry the fish first, and then, they would top the fish with a sweet and sour sauce. The entire fish represents a harmonious family.

Once the fish gets prepared for the dinner, the first half of it is served on the eve dinner, and the second half is reserved for the next day. Doing this, they believe, prolong the surplus and create a prosperous future. The top fishes are Crucian Carp, Chinese Mud Carp, and Catfish, among many.

Dumplings

Dumplings have secured a place in the classic Chinese food for over 1,800 years and are a traditional dish served on the eve of Chinese New Year.

Dumplings represent gold ingots, and for this reason, they’re common to most Chinese households during the CNY season. The dumplings’ unique design speaks for their place in Chinese cuisine as they believe eating this would help them generate more wealth and prosperity in the coming year.

Chines new year dish dumpling
Dumpling, the classic Chinese dish

According to the legends, what’s filled inside the dumplings and how much one person consumes decide the magnitude of rewards one wants to seize.

The filling generally consists of finely chopped vegetables, minced pork, ground chicken, beef, and diced shrimp. As per the individual’s taste choice, dumplings can either be fried, steamed, baked, or boiled.

Spring Roll

Spring rolls are traditionally accepted Chinese New Year food. Spring roll, which is really an egg roll, has got its name devised from the spring festival.

It’s most popular in East and Southern China. Shaped cylindrical, spring roll is a dim sum dish consisting of a thin dough wrapper with vegetables, meat, or sweet.

Chines new year dish spring rolls
Spring rolls, so tasty

Chinese people find any excuse to gulp one or two dumplings and prefer to eat it as an appetizer, dinner dish, or snack. Chinese deep fry the stuffed cylindrical roll until it turns golden.

Besides deep-frying, in some parts of China, steaming or baking is favored as well. Mostly it’s found in the cylindrical shape, but some people don’t fall by the norm side and give the spring roll a small rectangle or large flat circular shape.

Longevity Noodles

Also known as long noodles and Changshou Mian, longevity noodles represent a lengthened lifeline and good health, so Chinese people include them in their New Year Menu as a symbol of good luck.

They’re over two feet longer than normal noodles and are served uncut. The purpose is not to look for 2-feet size but to find as long as possible because the longer the noodle, the better.

Breaking noodles while cooking is taken as a bad omen associated with shortening someone’s life, so extra precaution is maintained to keep the length intact. It’s usually served either boiled or fried, with a variety of seafood to enhance the taste.

Sweet Rice Balls

Tangyuan, or sweet rice balls, is mostly eaten on the 15th and the 16th day of the Spring Festival. The rice balls contain the sweet filling and are boiled in water for cooking. It is also called soup spheres, as the sweet rice balls are dipped in sweet syrup or broth before eating.

New Chines Year dish sweet rice balls
Sweet rice balls, not the most common version

Its Chinese name (汤圆) sounds like a reunion and for this reason, behind the making of sweet rice balls, there is a message that the circular shape of the rice balls represents the completion and unity of the family. For its hot characteristics, it’s usually prepared and enjoyed in the winter season.

Firework: why is it ban now?

The inception of the Chinese New Year celebration sparks off from the bravery saga of a boy who used to keep a monster, which would appear somehow on the eve of every new year, at bay, using the fireworks.

The next day, people enjoying their safety and survival would set off more fireworks. And from there, the trend repeated year by year. Since China leads the world in terms of population, one can imagine why a record high fireworks are set off on the eve of every new year.

Chines new year fireworks

But…the firework is partially banned now. Facing the fierce challenges associated with the incremental pollution hazards, the Chinese government has banned fireworks.

Beijing has had fireworks banned for 13 years, but citizens’ anger brought the government back foot, and so, the ban was lifted in 2006. Around 500 minor to major cities have still got fireworks restrictions.

The firecrackers are infamous for producing noise nuisance and a sheet of red paper shreds all around the houses; however, Chinese people find joy in setting off the firecrackers and take it in their stride, without complaining about the air pollution.

This tradition is shared all over the country, and because of distinct beliefs, setting off firecrackers differs from region to region.

          • As the New Year hits the clock, people welcome its arrival with a cacophony of fireworks and firecrackers all around. There you won’t find a mini second for which the sound of car alarms and vibrations in the sky-high buildings would go off.
          • Before New Year’s Eve dinner: Chinese celebrate the New Year in their own style. When the reunion dinner gets ready, all family members gather up to lit the firecrackers. They believe doing so sparks off an invitation to their ancestors to celebrate the moment of happiness together.
          • At midnight as the New Year arrives: Traditionally, after reunion dinner, Chinese people stay up until midnight to set off firecrackers at the stroke of midnight. Doing this fills them with confidence that evil spirits won’t cause problems for them for this year.
          • New Year’s Day morning: Following their centuries-old tradition, Chinese people set off firecrackers before stepping out, as they take it as a thing of good luck. People avoid sweeping away the red shreds of firecrackers compiled worldwide, believing that sweeping this would also sweep their wealth away.

Travel Tips During Chinese New Year

The last year is extraordinary because of the outbreak of the plague in China and its spread worldwide. Every trip must be according to the covid 19 situations but to write the tips for a trip to China during the Chinese New Year. Let’s say you can travel to China and everything is as we used to have, with the hope that it will be like this soon enough

Luckily, there is a relief that can soothe your exponentially rising curiosity. Apart from creating hype of collective entropy by the Chinese celebration, Chinese New Year doesn’t stand in the path of travelers, generally.

The entire chain of businesses runs intact, and only a few temporarily pull out their contribution to move out of the city to meet their near and dear ones. The major institutions hold their position and run dry for only selected periods on which the celebration mood is at the peak.

So, what is it like to step into a pond that’s severely tremored by the shake of its own constituting particles? Simply putting, to what magnitude could, and would, travel during the Chinese New Year affects your spontaneous or a well-planned itinerary?

The answer is not something anybody would be ready to rumble. But, if there come the preparations that this guide helps you walk through, your travel would definitely be a piece of cake.

Is it possible to travel in China during Chinese New Year?

Yes, indeed, but brace yourself with a potential thought set up to bear the hiked fares and overcrowded transportations. Chinese move from their place of work to hometowns once a year.

The crowd that accumulates due to international and internal migration depicts an exodus that overwhelms the first-time visitors. The terminals and the railway stations flooded with people heading home to meet their elderly parents, eat dumplings, and celebrate.

How difficult is it to book tickets?

A wise man would begin making travel bookings at about sixty days before the Chinese New Year booking madness takes on the whole of China by storm.

Of course, the rates would severely multiply, and you can’t complain about it. The top hotels get booked way before the blink of an eye, so it’s obvious not to let go of a single opportunity that you get by chance.

It’s ideal for making bookings two to four months ahead, so as not to get yourself trapped in the human jungle everywhere. It’s hard for last-minute travel bookings to acquire those precious arrangements as those come with their own monopoly of premium paying.

Train yourself to be tolerant and fall by the lively spirit side

The problems with traveling are obvious, but when you’re visiting China during CNY, you should have elevated patience and a cheerful spirit bundled within you not to give the fellow travelers a hiccup or some weird look. On the flip side, by being more cheerful and patient, you can have fun even if you’re stuck in a crowd or in an unexpectedly packed train tour.

You know some extrovert guys who don’t see ‘you and I’ and jump into a conversation without an intention to unearth the in-depth details—all they do so not to let the drawbacks of travel tiresome dominate them.

You can roll the same sort of dices to keep yourself up and motivated. If this strategy doesn’t amuse you, there are saunas all over in China’s big cities where you can get a relaxing massage to relieve the stress.

Where to find an authentic view of fireworks?

This is common in all places, and you won’t have to move to a specific place to witness fireworks. In fact, it will be best to have a stay in a hotel with a big glass window through which you can get a wide visual

Is it cold during the Chinese New Year?

Yes. Some parts of China face extreme cold and rain during the CNY time. It would be great to have some warm clothes and put a blanket in the luggage bag to combat the teeth-shivering temperature as you move from one region to another.

Some parts of China also face unexpected rain during this season, so having an umbrella won’t attract eyes.

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