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West Meets East! Cultural Differences Shown Through Comics (Part Two)

Jan. 11, 2019

HSK 3 quiz

“看漫画,学中文” (Kàn mànhuà, xué zhōngwén) (Part Two)

Hi! Li Li, here again, to show you some comics about the differences between Western and Eastern cultures! If you read my previous blog, you already know I’ve been studying abroad for several months and I shared three cultural differences with “漫画 (mànhuà) comics” to illustrate my examples! Today I have a few more to share with you!

HSK 3 quiz

The source: tinyeyescomics (Instsgram)

The first example is the difference between sending gifts in the West VS. in China. Usually, in China, when we talk about “送礼物 (sòng lǐwù) giving/sending gifts,” we immediately think of “红包 (hóngbāo) red packets” which are basically packet with money inside. “红色 (hóngsè) red” in China is considered very lucky and a symbol of prosperity, so the packets are red. Nowadays we not only have physical envelopes people give, but also online versions that can be sent via “微信 (wēixìn) WeChat!” I would kind of compare it to the westerners’ gift card, but much more culturally rich and special. Every Chinese child looks forward to them.

(“微信红包 Wēixìn Hóngbāo WeChat Lucky Money Taps” into Chinese New Year Tradition)

In the West, when “节日 (jiérì) festivals” are celebrated, people usually carefully wrap presents for their loved ones and friends. If you imagine the scene of “圣诞节 (shèngdànjié) Christmas Day,” it makes you think of presents under the tree wrapped with care, right? Which would you rather have?

Let’s take a look at what opinions Westerners and Chinese have about gift giving during festivals and holidays

西方节日 (Xīfāng jiérì) West festivals:

Wǒmen huì zài shèngdànjié de shíhòu jīngxīn zhǔnbèi hěnduō lǐwù.
We will carefully prepare a lot of presents on Christmas Day.


中国节日 (Zhōngguó jiérì) Chinese festivals:

Gōngxǐ fācái, hóngbāo ná lái.
May you have great fortune! Please give me a red packet!

“恭喜发财,红包拿来。(Gōngxǐ fācái, hóngbāo ná lái.)” is often used as a Chinese greeting during spring festival.

HSK 3 quiz

The source: tinyeyescomics (Instagram)

Another very interesting difference is behaviorally I’ve noticed westerners tend to be very confident. When they think of an idea or have something they would like to try, they tend to take action immediately. In China, people are more “含蓄 (hánxù) reserved and reticent.” “三思而行 (sānsīérxíng)” is a common “成语 (chéngyǔ) idiom” that describes thinking things over at least three times before you act. Have you noticed this difference in the behavior of people around you?

Are there any differences between Chinese and Western people‘s patterns of behavior and ways of thinking? Imagine a scenario like this:

When someone comes up with a good idea or plan, what do they tend to say and how do they tend to act?

Xīfāng rén: Wǒ xiǎngdào yígè hǎo diǎnzi, shuō gàn jiù gàn!
Westerner: I came up with a good idea, so I’ll just do it at the drop of a hat.


Zhōngguó rén: Wǒ xiǎngdào yígè hǎo diǎnzi, bùxíng, wǒ háishì zài xiǎngxiang ba.
Chinese: I came up with a good idea, no, I’d better think it over for a bit longer.

HSK 3 quiz

The source: tinyeyescomics (Instagram)

And then there’s the difference between what western and eastern students wear to school. In China every “高中学生 (gāozhōng xuéshēng) student in high school” must wear: standardized “校服 (xiàofú) school uniforms” that are very loose and comfortable so as to make the students unified and not emphasize anyone’s body or show off their fashion sense. Whereas in the west, in general, every student can decide what they would like to wear to school, whether it’s very casual or high-fashion, they get to decide for themselves.

Key Learning Points:

想 (Xiǎng)  miss; think of; come up with

节日 (Jiérì)  festival; holiday

礼物 (Lǐwù)  gifts, presents

红包 (Hóngbāo)  red packets

校服 (Xiàofú)   school uniform

高中生 (Gāozhōng shēng)  high school students

说干就干 (Shuō gàn jiù gàn)  at the drop of the hat

HSK 3 quiz

1. Read the dialogue and answer the question below:

Jason: “Lì Li, zhōngguórén guònián de shíhou huì sòng shénme lǐwù a?”

Lì Li: “Wǒmen yìbān huì sòng hóngbāo.”

What does Jason mean? Please choose the best answer.

A. Jason wants to send red packets to Li Li.
B. Jason wants to know how Chinese people celebrate the New Year.
C. Jason wants to know what kinds of gifts will be given during the Chinese New Year.

See Answer Analysis

Learn More About Chinese Culture:
Parting Etiquette in China
Character Types of Chinese Traditional Operas
Chinese Culture Lesson: 麻将 (Májiàng) Mahjong

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