China: Fun Facts

FUN FACTS:

  • Ice cream was invented ~ 2000BC when the Chinese packed a soft milk and rice mixture in the snow.
  • One in every five people in the world is Chinese.  China is the world’s most populous country, with over 1.38 billion people, and the 2nd largest country by land area.  China is sometimes a day ahead of the United States.
  • China has the world’s largest standing army and second-largest defense budget.
  • The Chinese year is based on the cycles of the moon. This is called a lunar schedule.  A complete cycle of the Chinese calendar takes 60 years.  The Chinese calendar dates back to 2600 B.C.  It is the oldest known calendar.
  • The modern word “China” most likely derives from the name of the Qin (pronounced “chin”) dynasty. First Emperor Qin Shi Huang (260-210 B.C.) of the Qin dynasty first unified China in 221 B.C., beginning an Imperial period which would last until A.D. 1912.
  • 100 million people in China live on less than US$1 per day.
  • White, rather than black, is the Chinese color for mourning and funerals.
  • China has the world’s oldest calendar. This lunar calendar originated in 2600 B.C. and has 12 zodiac signs. It takes 60 years to complete.  Each year is represented by an animal. There are twelve animals which represent the twelve months of the zodiac:  Tiger; Rabbit; Dragon; Snake; Horse; Sheep; Monkey; Rooster; Dog; Pig; Rat and Ox.
  • Historians speculate that as the Chinese population grew, people had to conserve cooking fuel by chopping food into small pieces so that it could cook faster. These bite-sized foods eliminated the need for knives and, hence, chopsticks were invented.
  • China uses 45 billion chopsticks per year.  20 million 20-year-old trees are cut down in China every year to make chopsticks.
  • A very superstitious country.  When a Chinese child loses a baby tooth, it doesn’t get tucked under the pillow for the tooth fairy. If the child loses an upper tooth, the child’s parents plant the tooth in the ground, so the new tooth will grow in straight and healthy.  Parents toss a lost bottom tooth up to the rooftops, so that the new tooth will grow upwards, too.
  • In China, over 35 million people still live in caves.
  • The consumption of mushrooms was recorded in Chinese historical documents more than 3,000 years ago. In 1996, China produced 600,000 tons of mushrooms, making it the world’s leading producer, and it has 60% of the world’s mushroom varieties.
  • Many historians believe soccer originated in China around 1000 B.C.
  • Ping-pong is one of the most popular games in China, but it was not invented in China. It originated in Britain, where it is called table tennis.
  • Toilet paper was invented in China in the late 1300s. It was for emperors only.
  • The first recorded use of Marijuana was in China, over 4700 years ago.
  • Fortune cookie

    Fortune cookies are not a Chinese custom. They were invented in 1920 by a worker in the Key Heong Noodle Factory in San Francisco.

  • China’s Grand Canal is the world’s oldest and longest canal at 1,795 km long with 24 locks and around 60 bridges.
  • In China, there is an “Elderly Rights” law which makes it illegal for anyone who has parents over 60 not to visit them regularly.
  • There are 93 million Wangs in China, is the most popular name in the country.
  • According to a Chinese legend, silk was discovered in 3000 B.C. by Lady Xi Ling Sui, wife of the Emperor Huang Di. When a silk worm cocoon accidentally dropped into her hot tea, fine threads from the cocoon unraveled in the hot water and silk was born.
  • Long ago, silk making was a closely guarded secret. Anyone who gave the secret away could be killed.
  • The Chinese invented paper, the compass, gunpowder, and printing.
  • A new skyscraper is built in China every five days. Most of the tallest buildings in the world are in China.
  • The first known species of Homo erectus, the Peking Man, was found in China and lived between 300,000-550,000 years ago. It is thought that he knew how to manipulate fire.
  • Chinese students can get 7 years in jail for cheating on exams.
  • All pandas in the world are on loan from China, and when a baby Panda is born, by agreement, it is sent back to China to help expand the gene pool. The baby pandas are shipped back by FedEx.
  • The bicycle was introduced into China around 1891 by two American travelers named Allen and Sachtleben. The bicycle is now the primary transportation for millions of Chinese. The last Qing emperor (Puyi) rode a bicycle around the Forbidden City in Beijing. China is currently the leading bicycle manufacturer.
  • It is estimated that about 600,000 people die in China each year from issues related to overwork.
  • Pencils are yellow because, in the 1890’s, the world’s best pencil graphite came from China. In China, the color yellow is associated with royalty, so American pencil manufacturers started painting their pencils yellow to indicate they contained high-quality Chinese graphite.
  • In 2015, a Chinese billionaire bought a US$170 million painting by with his credit card so he could use the credit card points for free airfare.
  • At one time, Chinese patriots hoped to rid themselves of hated foreigner conquerors. To announce the time of an uprising, the patriots hid messages in moon cakes.
  • The name of China’s capital has changed over the centuries. At one time or another it has been known as Yanjing, Dadu, and Beiping. Peking or “Beijing means “Northern Capital.” Beijing is the officially sanctioned pinyin spelling based on the Mandarin dialect. Beijing is the second largest city after Shanghai.
  • When McDonald’s first introduced drive-throughs to China, the concept was so foreign that many people would pick up their food through the drive-thru, park their cars, and bring the food inside the restaurant to eat it.
  • Red is considered a lucky color in China. At one time wedding dresses were red.  New Year’s banners, clothing, and lucky money envelopes are still red.
  • The sunrise in parts of China can be as late as 10am because the country joined its 5 time zones into a single one based on Beijing time.
  • The Chinese invented kites (“paper birds” or “Aeolian harps”) about 3,000 years ago. They were used to frighten the enemies in battle, and Marco Polo (1254-1324) noted that kites were also used to predict the success of a voyage. It was considered bad luck to purposely let a kite go.
  • The custom of binding feet (euphemistically called “golden lilies”) began among female entertainers and members of the Chinese court during the Song dynasty (A.D. 960-1279). Tightly wrapped bandages gradually broke the arch of the foot and caused the woman’s toes and heel to grow inward toward one another. Her leg muscles would also atrophy and become very thin. Bound feet were seen as highly sexual.
  • Chinese is spoken by 92% of China’s population. There are at least seven major families of the Chinese language, including Mandarin, Cantonese, Wu, Hakka, Gan, Xiang, and Min.
  • In some parts of China, “pigtails” were associated with a girl’s marital status. A young girl would wear two pigtails, and when she married, she would wear just one. This may have contributed to the Western view that pigtails are associated with children and young girls.
  • Suspension bridges were invented in China in 25 B.C, 1,800 years before such bridges were known in the West.
  • China used more cement in 3 years (2011 to 2013) than the U.S. used in the entire 20th century.
  • In China, it’s illegal to use a wordplay or a pun in advertising or on television.
  • The Chinese were the first to invent the waterwheel to harness water in A.D. 31—1,200 years before the Europeans. China was also the first country in the world to use an iron plow. Europe didn’t begin using the iron plow until the seventeenth century.
  • It is illegal to show tattoos on television or in mass media.
  • The number one hobby in China is stamp collecting.
  • During the 2008 Olympics, China employed 30 airplanes, 4,000 rocket launchers, and 7,000 anti-aircraft guns to stop rain by shooting various chemicals into any threatening clouds to shrink rain drops before they reached the stadium.
  • Cricket fighting is a popular amusement in China. Many Chinese children keep crickets as pets.
  • It was customary for wealthy men and women in the late empire to grow the fingernails of their little fingers extremely long as a sign of their rank. They often wore decorative gold and silver nail guards to protect their nails.
  • It is considered good luck for the gate to a house to face south in FengShui.
  • We know that the Chinese grew rice as long as 5000 BC Archaeologists have found rice grains in farming tools and pots from that period.
  • The world’s largest producer of cigarettes is a company owned by the Chinese government.
  • In Beijing, one million people live underground in basements and air raid shelters.
  • While the dragon is typically seen as an evil creature in Western culture, it holds first place among the four greatest creatures in Chinese mythology, including the phoenix, tiger, and tortoise. It is typically associated with the emperor.
  • Tickling was a form of torture used in ancient China on nobility because it left no mark and recovery was quick.
  • Concubinage has been practiced throughout Chinese history, primarily by wealthy men who could afford it. Chinese emperors had large harems with hundreds of concubines.
  • The phoenix is the most important bird in Chinese legend and represents the feminine power of the empress. The graceful crane, which is a symbol of long life, is the second most important bird in Chinese legend. Ducks are also important symbols and represent happiness and marital faithfulness.
  • In ancient China, they used Mannequins to lure the enemies to shoot arrows, which they later pulled down to get free supply of arrows.
  • The Cultural Revolution (the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution) from 1966-1976 resulted in severe famine, thousands of deaths, and the erosion of thousands of acres of farmland.
  • Longest traffic jam in history

    In August 2010, China had the mother of all traffic jams, with a huge car panorama that stretched for more than 62 miles (100 km) and lasted for 12 days on the Beijing-Tibet Expressway near Beijing due to trucks carrying construction supplies blocked at the exit.

  • The highest mountain in the world (29,028 feet) is named in the honor the Welshman Sir George Everest who was the first surveyor of India. The Chinese call Mount Everest “Qomolangma“, which means “Mother Goddess of the Earth.”
  • Rich people in China have been known to hire body doubles to serve their prison sentence.
  • In 2006, China slaughtered 50,000 dogs after three people died of rabies. Dogs being walked were seized from their owners and beaten to death on the spot. Owners were offered 63 cents per animal to kill their own dogs before the beating teams were sent in.
  • In ancient China, mirrors were believed to protect their owners from evil, making hidden spirits visible and revealing the secrets of the future. A person who had been scared by a ghost could be healed by looking in the mirror. Mirrors were often hung on the ceilings of burial chambers.
  • Giant Pandas (“bear cat”) date back two to three million years. The early Chinese emperors kept pandas to ward off evil spirits and natural disasters. Pandas also were considered symbols of might and bravery.
  • Because the cicada (katydid) has the longest life span of any insect (up to 17 years) and sheds its skin, it has long been a symbol of regeneration and rebirth for the Chinese. In ancient China, the Chinese would place jade cicadas in the mouths of the dead because they were thought to slow down the decay process and speed up the rebirth in another world.
  • Fourth graders are expected to know 2,000 of the over 40,000 written Chinese characters.  By the time they leave college, they will know 4,000 or 5,000 characters.  Each character is learned by looking at it and memorizing it. Unlike the 26 letters of our alphabet, words cannot be sounded out letter by letter
May 22nd, 2008|

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