Be Honorable and Pay Attention to These Rules in a Chinese Household

A large Chinese family.

For the Chinese, there that reflect not only the wisdom of life, but also the essence of civilization. (Image: Tom Wang via Dreamstime)

China is a nation of etiquette. From the ancient people to the present, many rules have been handed down from generation to generation. These rules cannot be forgotten because they often contain how to be a proper person and deal with things correctly.

For Chinese, there are particular rules that reflect not only the wisdom of life, but also the essence of civilization. As Mencius, the Chinese Confucian philosopher, said: “Not following rules and standards, one can never make a perfect square or a circle.”

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Nowadays, plenty of young people see the rules left by old ancestors as stereotypes and old-fashioned practices. But the truth is, no matter how time changes, the best upbringing, the most profound wisdom, and the most extraordinary self-discipline you can have been through the rules passed on to us from our elders.

Today, we will share the Chinese rules from five aspects — hospitality, eating, speaking, paying visits, and giving gifts.

Knowing these rules can allow you to be courteous and respectful to others and yourself

Hospitality rules

1. Walk three steps to welcome and seven steps to see a guest off. When a guest visits, stand up and welcome him by taking three steps forward. When seeing a guest off, take the initiative to walk seven steps with them to show respect.

2. Fill your guest’s teacup to 70 percent and a rice bowl to 80 percent complete; also, if you offer any beverage, guests’ glasses should not be left empty unless they refuse. This is the traditional way of hospitality etiquette.

3. The arrival of a new guest requires making a fresh pot of tea. While drinking tea with a guest and a new visitor arrives, the host must make a fresh pot to express their welcome. Otherwise, it will be considered rude and disrespectful.

4. From high to low, from old to young. When welcoming guests, the order of precedence should be from higher to lower in ranking and from older to younger.

5. The host must not get up before guests finish eating. When guests are still eating, you cannot finish and walk away and leave the guests by themselves. Instead, you must wait until the guests have finished before you stop eating.

There are many rules about eating.
When eating with others, do not only think of filling up your stomach. In addition, you must always comply with table manners. (Image: Monkey Business Images via Dreamstime)

Eating rules

1. Eat moderately and with courtesy. When eating with others, do not only think of filling up your stomach. In addition, you must always comply with table manners.

2. Do not make unpleasant sounds. For example, when tasting dishes, do not make loud noises. Instead, chew slowly with your mouth closed and eat in a civilized manner.

3. Do not give guests the chicken’s head or the fish’s spine. The chicken’s head is meatless, and the fish’s spine is too thorny. Therefore, offering them to guests is rude. Giving a guest only the best part is the proper way in Chinese hospitality.

4. Serve food and drink to the elders first. To show sincere respect for the elders, the younger ones should let the older ones choose their food and drink first during a banquet.

5. Do not talk while eating; choose your words carefully, as they must be well thought out. You must be thoughtful, and what you have to say must be appropriate.

Speaking rules

1. Do not sigh. The Chinese believe a sigh brings poor luck for three years. Especially during the New Year, sighing will drive away one’s wealth and fortune.

2. Do not say unlucky words. For example, do not say inauspicious words such as evil, dead, all gone, ghost, kill, sick, and poor because they will initiate the coming of bad luck.

Visiting friends and family rules

1. Knock first before entering. You cannot push open the door and enter when you visit someone. Instead, you should knock on the door three times and wait till the host acknowledges your arrival before you join.

2. Do not visit at meal times or sleep time. When visiting others, you should pick a time that is convenient for them. For example, try not to go when the other party is eating or sleeping.

3. Dress neatly and look delighted. When visiting, ensure you are clean, dressed neatly, and have a smile.

4. Get out of the car to greet your elders. When you see your elders walking about while driving, you should take the initiative to let older people cross the street first. It is nice to be patient. It is a sign of basic courtesy and respect.

To show sincere respect for the elders, the younger ones should let the older ones choose their food and drink first during a banquet.
To show sincere respect for the elders, the younger ones should let the older ones choose their food and drink first during a banquet. (Image: Imtmphoto via Dreamstime)

Giving gifts rules

1. Give gifts in an even number. Gifts must not be given in an odd number. However, they must be in an even number because it implies that good things come in pairs and that happiness is doubled.

2. Give gifts humbly and respectfully. It would be best if you remained modest and respectful when giving presents, whether a gift or some reassurance.

3. Return the favor. Good human relations require the exchange of favors and reciprocity. Therefore, pay attention not to take advantage of people and hurt their feelings.

4. Do not decline gifts from your elders. When your elders give you something, accept it respectfully and express gratitude. Refusing it implies that you say no to their good intentions.

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