Did you know that the Chinese police force keeps geese for protection rather than dogs? Or did you know that in China, you must refuse a gift a few times before accepting it? Well, these are a few of many unique things that happen in the land of spicy hot pot.
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1. Gifts must be refused a few times before they’re accepted.
No matter how popular or loved gifts are in China when Chinese people are offered presents, it’s customary that they refuse them at least once before accepting them. It’s not because they don’t like the present, but to them, it’s simply the polite thing to do. Chinese people don’t like when other people buy them expensive gifts, and in many cases, this can be considered bribery. So, if you decide to gift someone with a classic red envelope, make sure not to include a large amount of money in it.
2. Many women wear facekinis to the beach.
Having a clear, white complexion has always been an ideal beauty standard for Chinese women. The sun is obviously the enemy of that, which is why face-kinis was invented back in 2004 and are now worn mostly in coastal areas. Not only do they protect women’s faces from sun exposure but also from jellyfish and algae.
3. Police will sometimes use geese instead of watchdogs.
It may sound weird, but in places like the Xinjiang province, police will sometimes use domesticated geese instead of dogs. This happens because geese can be loud and aggressive, while still having great vision. They can get very territorial and won’t stop flapping their wings and screaming until an intruder is gone.
4. People take naps pretty much anywhere.
In China, most people work many hours every week, sometimes with no day off. This is why it’s understandable that they take naps during the day anywhere they happen to be. Whether it’s at their work station, on the train, or even on a street bench, they’ll never hesitate to shut their eyes for a few minutes. Those passing by know best not to disturb them.
5. They like to spit in public.
While spitting is considered rude in Western countries, in China, it’s thought to be a cleansing action. It wasn’t until recent years that many campaigns were started to teach people to refrain from this habit, mainly for sanitary reasons. The city of Beijing, in particular, imposed a fee of 50 yuan (around $6.50) for anyone who was caught spitting in public before the Olympics.
6. A bride needs to cry on purpose a week before her wedding.
This ancient custom has been followed in many areas of Southwest China’s Sichuan Province for centuries now, dating back to the Warring States Period (475 BCE to 221 BCE). The story says that a mother cried at her daughter’s feet at the end of her wedding, begging for her not to leave her. Nowadays, in areas still following the practice, brides are required to cry every day during the week or even the month leading up to her wedding. In the past years, the bride was also required to cry during her wedding, otherwise, she would be the laughing stock of her village.
7. Chinese people drink boiling hot water.
Drinking boiling hot water might seem impossible to some people, but Chinese people believe that it can treat all kinds of ailments, from the common cold to cholera. This tradition goes back to the fourth century BCE when people thought that by drinking hot water, the ying (good) and yang (bad) elements of the body would become balanced. In case the yang elements took over, the human body would be more susceptible to disease and colds. Nowadays, hot water can be found in most communal spaces, such as train stations and airports.
8. Leaving some food on their plate is a good sign.
In many countries, like India and Japan, leaving unfinished food on your plate may indicate that you didn’t enjoy your meal. In China, the same action means that you’re still hungry and your host didn’t offer you enough food. However, in 2020, the country launched “The Clean Plate” campaign in an effort to reduce food waste after President Xi Jinping found the amounts of food that had been disposed of to be shocking.
9. It’s very common for people to wear pajamas in public.
The pajamas that the Western world wears first appeared in China in the twentieth century and were quite expensive to get. Only rich people could afford them and wearing them in public was a way to show off their wealth. Even nowadays, when almost everyone can afford pajamas, wearing them outside one’s home is a matter of high status. It simply means that someone doesn’t have to work.
10. The Red Yao women cut their hair once in their lifetime.
Huangluo Yao is a picturesque Chinese village hidden in nature where the Red Yao people reside. The village only has 600 residents from 78 different families. But the reason it is world-famous is because of its women’s hair. Their locks can grow up to 5 feet long and weigh up to 2 pounds! The secret to the great length is a concoction made of fermented rice water blended with pomelo skins and tea plant seed oil that they use to rinse their hair with after washing it.