Traditions

Culture cannot be defined as culture without shared beliefs and practices cumulating in food and celebrations.

There is widely considered to be eight unique cuisines in China with countless regional variations and local specialties. Arguably, the most well-known are Sichuan cuisine 川菜characterized by its heavy use of peppercorn and hot chili peppers and Cantonese cuisine 粤菜famous for its dim sum and savory soups.  However,in terms of prestige, no cuisine can compare with the imperial cuisine, gongting cuisine宫廷菜, reserved for the imperial family and the inner circle and said to combine the best and rarest ingredients available with exquisite and often-times imaginative presentation.

Cuisines aside, there are also special dishes, common to all but with regional variations, associated with specific holidays. For example, a hallmark of the Dragon Boat Festival is making and eating zongzi, glutinous rice stuffed in a flat leaf; and no Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations would be complete without moon cakes.

The Chinese year is based on a 12-month lunar calendar with an extra leap month approximately every three years.  Historically a primarily agrarian society, many traditional Chinese holidays mark key dates of the planting and harvest season and later given added significance by societal beliefs and cultural norms of filial piety and ancestry worship.