Daily Life and Folkways

Folklife is the culture of everyday life. It refers to what people traditionally believe, do, know, make, and say. This can include traditional knowledge, beliefs, language, oral traditions, dress, food, building arts, craft traditions, and music. Art and archaeological objects from China can be a rich source for understanding people’s everyday experiences, both today and in the past. Food, clothing, domestic architecture, folk arts, festivals, performances, stories, and rituals tell us about how people created community and developed an individual and shared sense of identity. A traditional Chinese perspective posits that all things—from one’s health to a community’s welfare—depend on a careful balance of internal and external forces. In China today, people are navigating the transformations that emerge from modernization. Rapid urban development has radically changed life for millions of people, leading to a transformation of various aspects of traditional life. Some cultural traditions continue while others are evolving. Folklife is rooted in community, passed down from generation to generation and adapted to remain relevant in today’s society. Individuals in China today are ensuring the vitality of diverse traditions for the future.

Key Points

  • There is both continuity and change in Chinese cultural traditions.
  • Minority peoples in China have distinctive traditions that are ways of expressing their cultural identities.
  • Urban development in China has contributed to changes in folk traditions in the last century.
  • Festivals and celebrations in China are linked to the lunar calendar and solar terms. They mark changing seasons and remind people of their connection to nature.