Customs When Visiting a Chinese Family
In order to get the most out of visiting a Chinese family, the first thing you want to do is bring a digital translator. Next, observe the local customs, and then prepare some good questions to ask. You should then have a valuable inter-cultural encounter, providing a deeper insight into Chinese culture and local life.
When entering the house you should..
Offer your gifts, which will probably be taken away or placed on a table unopened, as it is the Chinese custom. Fruit is very popular, although confectionery or souvenir products from your country would also be welcomed.
Greet all members of the household (start with the seniors, if possible, then proceed down the social scale; children would normally be expected to greet you rather than the other way round), or as many as you can see from the door. A simple hello in English, or ‘’Ni hao’’ would suffice.
Take your shoes off and change them for a pair a pair of slippers that is waiting for you by the door.
Once inside the house…
Once you are inside the house you will usually be asked to sit down. If you have any belongings such as a bag or coat that you wish to take off they will usually be given a seat too. Placing bags on the floor is a huge no – no (the floor is considered unclean, though it seems fine from a Western perspective) and coat racks are uncommon in China.
You will then be offered something to eat and drink. Plain hot water is widely popular, especially in poorer households, where all water is boiled. The alternative is usually Chinese tea of some sort. The first food offered will most likely be fruit, with peanuts and candy if it’s a festive time of the year. Accept the food/drink, or put them down on a table in front of you if you don’t want to have them immediately.
Then the conversation begins… Your host will try to keep you entertained and ask you a few questions first. Then it is your chance to reciprocate.
Now that you have read this blog be sure to check out some of our other blog posts, such as ‘Learn Mandarin Chinese: 5 Reasons Why’ and ‘5 Great Wall Hikes For Every Beijing Tourist’