If you do business with China, it’d be beneficial to know some Chinese culture. At the end of the day, the same people who strike business deals also celebrate holidays and get together with family and friends.
This article provides a glimpse of important Chinse festivals and Chinese culture. If you get a tiny bit out of it and practice it with your Chinese clients, they will for sure appreciate your efforts!
Adapted from my LinkedIn posts.
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year, also called Lunar New Year, is the most important Chinese holiday. Its status is similar to Christmas in the West.
In 2021, New Year’s Day falls on 12 Feb, making 11 Feb the New Year’s Eve. Traditionally, a new year lasts for over twenty days, starting from one week before a new year, and ending on Lantern’s Day. However, the official holiday period is seven days starting from New Year’s Eve.
Traditionally this time of the year is also when tens of millions of people travel across the nation to reunite with families. This year, however, travel is dramatically reduced due to COVID-19.
The 12 Chinese zodiacs in order are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig. 2021 is the Year of the Ox, which starts from 12 Feb from the Rat and ends on 1 Feb 2022, giving way to the Tiger. People like to say propitious words to wish a happy new year in connection with the zodiacs of the year, and the ox is considered to be a good one. It’s associated with hardworking, modesty and strength.
If you have Chinse colleagues or business partners, before the Chinese New Year, send them a card with red as the dominant colour, and write to them: Happy New Year of the Ox (or the animal of the year)! They will for sure appreciate your thoughts!
The Mid-Autumn Festival is a holiday second in importance to Chinese New Year. The traditional wisdom has it that on this evening the moon is the biggest and brightest. When the weather is nice, the whole family are supposed to get together in the evening, sharing a special delicacy called mooncake while enjoying the full moon.
Mid-Autumn Festival is often very close to or falls on the same date as China’s National Day. The former is on 15 Aug by the lunar calendar, while the latter is on 1 Oct by the solar calendar.
If you have Chinese friends, colleagues, and clients, wishing them Happy Mid-Autumn Festival will brighten their day!
In 2021, the Mid-Autumn Festival will be on 21 Sep.
ONE English word “cousin” corresponds to EIGHT Chinese words.
“Cousin” in Chinese is composed of two characters.
The first character tells whether the cousin is from the maternal or paternal side.
For the second character, if a male cousin is older or younger than you, we use two distinct characters. The same goes for a female cousin.
So, four salutations from the maternal side, and four from the paternal side. Altogether eight words correspond to one English word “cousin”.
When conveying “cousin” to a Chinese-speaking audience, we esp. need to understand the context, as there is simply not an overarching word in the Chinese vocabulary. You just have to be specific.
Isn’t it interesting?
Author: Amanda Mao, PhD
Acurit Medical Communications Pty Ltd provides bilingual Chinese medical writing and medical translation services for the pharmaceutical, medical device and nutrition industry. If you find the article useful, please share it with your network. You can also contact us to let us know your comments.