Chinese traditions date back thousands of years. In China, the interest of the family outweighs the interest of the individual, and decisions are made based on how they impact the group first and foremost. Family in China means not only mom, dad and kids. It includes all manner of extended family, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws. As a result, many of the values of Chinese culture revolve around family.
Commitment to Marriage
Marriage has always played an important part in China's culture. Marriage was so important that arranged marriages were typical for centuries. Such marriages were expected to endure for a lifetime. This important decision was not left to the young people, but was made by their elders. While that has changed today, marriage is still considered the desired state and the basis of the family. Even now, a couple typically requests the approval of their parents before marriage as a sign of respect for the knowledge and experience of their elders.
Respect for Elders
Unlike many western cultures that value youth, the Chinese revere their elders and respect the knowledge that is gained with age and experience. Chinese families typically take care of their ageing family members, rather than leaving them to fend for themselves. Recent changes in society, however, have prompted the possibility of a law requiring children to visit and care for their parents in cases where the children fail to uphold a duty to support their parents.
Respect for the Dead
Ancestor worship is important within the Chinese family. The Chinese believe that the spirits of deceased family members continue to watch over them and influence the lives of those they've left behind. Remaining family members often create an altar in the home with candles, a photo of the relative and several items of offering. Articles the deceased may need in the great beyond are placed on the altar. Grooming items, favourite foods and money are commonly found on altars.
Importance of Education
Chinese families place a great value on education and Chinese children are expected to assume the same attitude without question. Students of both sexes spend considerable time studying and striving to excel in the subjects they take in school. Television, computer games, sports and playtime are often given low or no priority in favour of academic pursuits. Intense pressure and a competitive atmosphere prevail, as parents insist on nothing short of academic excellence in the hope of securing a good future for their children.
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