Ethnicity is the state of belonging to a specific group that shares a unique cultural heritage. Identity refers to an exclusive characteristic that distinguishes an individual or a group from the rest. As Chinese, we have several aspects that distinguish from other cultures. To begin with, in the Chinese community, the family is the most essential unit that greatly contributes to the running of a nation. This is expressed in the way that child bearing and upbringing are vital in the traditional practices. It is an obligation of the whole community to participate in the upbringing (Carter, 2008, p. 96). An expectant mother is cared for by everyone so as to protect her and the unborn. Immediately after the child’s birth, the mother is put on bed rest.
The choice of a child name is associated with the child’s future, and this makes hus/her parents consider all the probable factors before naming the child. Two name parts are important by tradition, the first being the family name, which has a character that explains the family’s generation order. The character in the first name is chosen based on one’s preference. The characters in the generation order can help in telling the relationships between the families. These characters are agreed upon by the ancestors, who look them up from poem lines or just come up with their own (Carter, 2008, p. 203).
The Chinese have many ceremonies and celebrations that cover all phases of life from childbirth through marriage to death. The most popular mode of greeting is handshaking, followed by bowing and then nodding. Bowing is done as a show of respect to the elderly or high ranking in society. Nodding is common and mostly done by youngsters. After childbirth, a one month celebration is held to welcome the newborn family, to notify the ancestors on the family’s new addition, and also to appease the gods with sacrifices so that they bless the baby in his lifetime. Customs demand that the child’s parents give presents to relatives and friends (Carter, 2008, p. 257). Red dyed eggs are usually given as gifts since they symbolize a change in the life processes, peace, and happiness. Relatives and friends will also bring presents for the child in return. The child’s grandparents express love for the grandchild by giving them a silver or gold ware.
Other occasions where gifts are given are weddings, festivals, when visiting patients or at a birthday celebration. Small gifts are given at family parties, at which unique cultural practices should be put into consideration. The gifts must be in even numbers since odd numbers are associated with ill fate. Although four is an even number, it is avoided because it is associated with death. Giving clocks is also avoided because a word clock in Chinese symbolizes funerals and death. Besides, gifts, except for souvenirs, are not given in public. In giving gifts, it is the thought that counts not the value (Carter, 2008, p.284).
Another important aspect of Chinese culture is the observing of good table manners in all meals. Respect is supreme and is observed by all, making everyone enjoy the meal, and a cheerful environment is created at the table. The senior members of the family are served with the excellent food first. Polite words are offered by a host before people start eating, and a lack of such words may express lack of respect. Main dishes are set at the centre of the table, and the supporting ones surround them evenly (Carter, 2008, p. 486). Any decorated dishes will be placed to face the guests or senior family members.
In conclusion, Chinese culture is quite an interesting and special culture. Chinese greatly value strong family ties and strictly observe all their customs and traditions that are incorporated into most of their daily activities.