Simple Facts about Family Structure in Chinese Culture
Families are the most important component of every society in all parts of the world. Family structure in China also holds a significant value in the life of the Chinese people. Although this structure and family values have changed in China’s modern Chinese culture, some customs are still followed and have the same value as the ancient Chinese people used to have.
The following facts about Chinese family provide a better understanding about the structure of families and their values.
Respect for Ancestors
China’s people attach special importance and value to their ancestors. Elders are respected and valued in all matters of life. Although most modern couples live separately, extended family systems are not uncommon in the country’s culture. Families meet at their ancestral home on special occasions, such as the New Year and other popular festivals.
Since ancient times, ancestors have been honored just like gods. After their death, it is believed than ancestors turn into spirits who watch over their families. The ancient Chinese families used to worship their dead ancestors.
A special festival is also celebrated in the country in order to honor ancestors. This festival is known as Qing Ming.
As in all other cultures, the main breadwinner is the head of the family. In other words, the father provides financial support for the family while the mother’s responsibility revolves around household chores. However, this custom has changed in the present day China. Most women also work and help their husbands in supporting the family financially. The responsibility of providing sustenance to the kids, therefore, falls on both the mother as well as the father.
The entire family shares at least one meal in a day together. This is usually the dinner since some members of the family are out working during the day and cannot join at lunch. Respect for adults is shown at the dining table and proper manners are observed. Each individual gets his own bowl of the main course – rice or noodles – while the accompaniments are shared.
The Chinese culture family life pays special importance to marriages. There is no concept of inter-family marriages. Matchmakers introduce families and arranged marriages are common. Once again, the elders of the family are respected in this matter as well since their decision is accepted by the bride and groom.
The ancient Chinese customs about marriages were not rigid and also allowed divorce to take place in case a couple was unable to lead a happy life. However, there were seven conditions which needed to be fulfilled in order to allow a divorce to take place.
The Changing Values
The structure of families in the present-day China is different in many ways as compared to their ancient counterparts. Although elders and ancestors still hold immense value, families have their own units and hardly live together with grandparents. However, respect, love and care are still the most important components of Chinese families which hold them together and build the foundation of China’s society.