China country overview

The culture of China

Geography, People, Culture, and Economic Profile

China information index

Daily life of China

The gastronomic traditions of China offer a profound lens through which to appreciate its rich culture. The culinary arts within the nation are deeply influenced by the Daoist tenets of balance and transformation, where contrasting flavors and temperatures are harmoniously paired: the heat of a dish is tempered by coolness, the zest of spices is softened by milder tastes, and the vibrancy of fresh produce is complemented by preserved items. Sichuan cuisine, hailing from central China, is renowned for its liberal use of fiery peppers, while the verdant southern regions prioritize the use of fresh, local ingredients. The delicate and nuanced flavors of Cantonese cooking are characterized by the use of freshly harvested vegetables and gently prepared meats. Across the diverse regions, rice remains the cornerstone of the Chinese diet, serving as the foundation to which all other foods are an accompaniment. Iconic culinary creations such as egg rolls, spring rolls, dim sum, and the quintessential five spice powder, along with utensils like chopsticks and dishes like chop suey and the century egg, all originate from China and its diaspora. These elements have transcended their origins to achieve global recognition and are celebrated in dining establishments worldwide.

China celebrates an array of national holidays, including New Year’s Day, the Spring Festival (marking the lunar new year), Youth Day on May 4, and National Day on October 1. Additionally, the Lantern Festival in late winter, Tomb Sweep Day on April 4 or 5, and the Mid-Autumn Festival in October are among the notable cultural observances. Beyond these, a multitude of local festivals take place throughout the year, each with its unique customs and celebrations.

Physical activity is deeply embedded in Chinese cultural practices. Each morning, millions engage in traditional martial arts such as tai chi chuan (taijiquan), perform elegant sword dances, or participate in synchronized dance routines, particularly popular among women. Acrobatics hold a special place in the hearts of the Chinese people and have seen a resurgence in popularity since the establishment of the China Acrobatic Troupe in Beijing in 1950. This has led to the creation of additional troupes in cities such as Shanghai, Chongqing, Shenyang, Wuhan, and Dalien (Lüda). While international sports like basketball, baseball, and football (soccer) have amassed widespread popularity, traditional martial arts remain the most historically significant, with roots tracing back over two millennia to a time when China was fragmented by warlords and invasions, leading to the prohibition of weapons among civilians.

China’s prominence in the realm of international sports has been on the rise since its consistent participation in the Olympic Games, beginning with the 1980 Winter Games. The nation’s athletes achieved a remarkable feat at the 2004 Summer Games, securing a total of 63 medals and showcasing their prowess in badminton, diving, table tennis, and weightlifting, along with commendable performances in shooting and women’s judo. This success paved the way for Beijing to be selected as the host city for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

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