Lantern festivals, flying dragon costumes, vast and beautiful temples and the Great Wall — these are just a few of the many stunning and mysterious attractions that you’re sure to see when visiting China. However, interacting with day to day Chinese life, people, and events requires tact and knowledge to avoid disrespecting the locals and their traditions with foreign practices and ignorance. Read our list below to get informed on some of the less obvious things to avoid when visiting.
Upright Chopsticks in Rice
It’s your first night in China and you head out to a local restaurant with some friends, barely able to wait to try some authentic rice dishes. Just remember not to leave your chopsticks standing upright and stuck in your rice between bites. Apparently, this act is taboo, as the configuration of the sticks in the rice dish reminds restaurant owners of incense placed in urns at temples: offerings for the dead. Eat respectfully and they’ll be happy to have you back.
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Share a Pear
You’ve been walking the Great Wall all day and it’s finally time for a break. You pull out a succulent Asian pear that you’ve been waiting for and get ready to take a huge bite, but are distracted by your unprepared and pouty lipped friend who forgot to bring a lunch. Whatever you do, DO NOT share the pear! In China, the phrase for “sharing a pear” is a homophone of “to separate”, so unless you’re hoping to never see this friend again, then munch that thing down quickly! By yourself of course.
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New Year’s Day Hair Washing
Wow. New Year’s Eve is a blur as you wake up in your Shanghai hotel room. You’ve had rice wines, fireworks and enough food to make moving difficult. You stumble out of bed and head to the shower to give your head a good scrub. Stop! Never wash your hair in China on New Year’s Day –- this washes away luck that will lead to increased wealth, job advancement and good health. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow and rock that greasy look for today. No conditioner either.
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Show the Bottom of Your Feet
It’s been a long day wandering the beautiful markets full of carvings, spices, miniature Chinese charms and framed traditional proverbs. You’re exhausted and pop your feet up on a table at a local bar. Immediately, you sense eyes on you as the bartender stares sullenly with a look of disapproval. Showing the bottom of your feet and placing your feet on objects other than the ground is disrespectful and can quickly get you kicked out of an establishment. People tend to walk more in China and thus shoes get dirtier. Always take off your shoes when entering a home and if you’re going to cross your legs, be sure that your shoes are off first. No one wants to look at your filthy soles.
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