• Culture

    Is Qingming the Chinese Easter?

    While the Lunar New Year Festival is marking the beginning of a new year, the Qingming aka Spring Festival marks the beginning of a new growth cycle in nature. The resurrection of new life from death! Easter is just one of the festivals that celebrate the beginning of spring and of planting season. It is by far not the only festival in the long row of festivals that human civilizations have developed over millennia to celebrate the start of something new. All members of Christian influenced societies know Easter. Jesus is being crucified and rises from death. However, you might interpret that, as metaphor or literal truth, it conveys deep…

  • Culture,  Middle Kingdom

    The beauty of Chinese banknotes

    Cash is vanishingChina is a pioneer on the way to a cashless society. In 2020 (maybe boosted by COVID-19), virtual payment methods have become almost universal in China. For the average customer this promises easy and quick ways to pay. In combination with self-checkout supermarkets and the greatest online shopping experience on the planet, China shows the way. Already, cash and banknotes have almost gone the way of the dinosaur in China. Yet one thing, that most won´t think about, will be gone too. Many countries have beautiful pictures on their bank notes. While Europe uses its paper money to showcase important buildings and iconographic symbols of Europe, China emphasizes…

  • Middle Kingdom

    My top 10 Chinese Quotes on Education

    Knowledge is Power Everyone who is interested in China and its history knows that for Chinese (for East Asians in general) education and traditional values are among the most important things in life. Deeply ingrained in Asian societies the positive attitude to rigorous education is reflected in many Chinese sayings. Reading them made me think about how different -despite of all the obvious similarities- East and West are in many ways. The changes in the last decades might have led to even greater differences at least in the field of education. And dare I say, maybe not for the better in the West. My thoughts are meant as a contribution…

  • Culture

    A Whiter Shade of Pale

    The Chinese Whiteness Obsession In China one color trumps all: white. White is beautiful! No Chinese will get the idea to call brown skin healthy or beautiful. The whole of East Asia is striving for the same goal: Being as white as possible. Quite early on in our relationship my wife exhibited this very Asian attitude. Walking on the streets of Beijing she would nod at a passerby and make fun of her tan skin. Shocked I would simply answer with a nervous smile. My Western mindset smelled racism and if there is one thing Europeans or Americans are conditioned to, it is fear of being called racist. Not so…

  • Culture

    The New Summer Palace and its Stone Steam Ship

    Are Chinese ships made of marble? Going for a walk in the park of the New Summer Palace some visitors rub their eyes in amazement. Floating on the edge of a lake, just next to the central hill with the beautiful palace complexes, one can see the most unusual boat. Made of stone! And it doesn’t float either. What presents itself there to the unsuspecting tourist is the famous marble boat of dowager Empress Cixi (pronounced: Z’ shi). But it’s not really Cixi´s boat either. And, well, not really a Chinese boat. It is popularly referred to as the marble boat or jade ship. The official name is: Boat of…

  • Culture

    Bamboo – the most Chinese of Plants

    Future with traditionFew things are as Chinese as bamboo. Few things seem more mystical to Westerners than a bamboo forest. And few plants are as useful as bamboo. Which plant do you know that can be used as building material, furniture and in the kitchen? Bamboo is nothing special. It’s grass! One of the most common plants on this planet. And yet, like many things that don’t immediately meet the eye, we ignore them. This robust garden plant is vital for the most Chinese of all animals. The panda. But it is also highly beneficial for humans, as it contains large amounts of vitamins.

  • Culture

    A Holly Jolly Christmas

    Come again? Christmas? In a communist country? How does that work? China, as everyone knows, is a communist state. Communism is, by definition, against religion. So, is there no Christmas in China? Do they know Santa Claus, St. Nicholas or Kris Kringle? Does Chinese culture have something similar? In recent years here in China, I have seen a change in many areas, including the way Christmas is celebrated. After all, there is a Christmas. There are a lot of Christians in China (although only as a small percentage of the whole population). But as in the West, you don’t have to be religious to celebrate Christmas and give presents, to…

  • All Days

    Not only Superheroes wear Masks

    Masks are normal. If you walk on the streets of East Asian cities, you’re coming across a familiar picture. Masks everywhere. Are these people all suppressed drones? Masks, albeit to a lesser extent, were a normal sight even before Corona. The reason is quite simple. Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, all East Asians wear masks to protect themselves and their fellow human beings. No one is ashamed, no one is horrified. Wearing a mask, you are not perceived as a weirdo. Masks against viruses Those who are on the road during flu season, commute in subways or travel in public places teeming with sneezing and coughing people, have long put on a…