My wife is originally from the southern part of China, so her family is a mixture of descendants of China and the Americans who have married into the family. A few years ago her family had a reunion to gather together and visit with one another, and I was invited to attend. While I had experienced some of the Chinese culture prior to the event, the reunion was the first time that I really got to observe the traditional culture in real life.
The event was a very elegant occasion, more like a banquet than the typical American family reunion. There was tons of food, most of which was Chinese, and even Chinese decorations. There were red lanterns strung around the room, all lit as the evening approached. They were very beautiful, but as it turns out they are not used for beauty. The lanterns symbolize good luck and hope.
They are used every year in China at the Lantern Festival, when they line the streets to symbolize this same meaning. The color red also has significance in the Chinese culture. It is believed to be the color of luck. Some of the older family members spoke the Chinese language, which was interesting to witness, but most everyone spoke English.
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I am an American with family roots in Germany, so the two cultures are vastly different. The biggest difference I noticed was how much more reserved the Chinese people seemed to typical American families. Even the children, who were laughing and playing, seemed to be more respectful than American children. This aspect of the culture impacted me the most.
I realized how different people are from different parts of the world, and especially those who live in America, but have been raised with traditional Chinese values. It amazes me how different cultures can vary so greatly. I enjoyed this learning experience with my wife’s family and I look forward to many more Chinese events in the future.
- Chinatown Connection, "Lantern Festival." Chinatown Connection. n.d.. Chinatown Connection.
- 5 May 2008 <http://www.chinatownconnection.com/lantern-festival.htm>.
- Lee, Danile. "Chinese People Lifestyle." Chinatown Connection. n.d.. Chinatown Connection. 5
- May 2008 <http://www.chinatownconnection.com/chinese-people-lifestyle.htm>.
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