Maybe you know a thing or two about China -- like how it's the second-biggest economy in the world, or how they're obsessed with creepy pandas. But what do you really know about China, other than you don't know much, and it seems kinda weird?
Even if you already know fortune cookies aren't actually a thing there, there are wayyy more interesting facts. Try dropping these over dinner the next time you order take out.
1. People eat dogs to celebrate summer
That little guy? He's what's for dinner... at least in Yulin for a day. In the southwestern Chinese city, people eat dogs on the summer solstice festival, and about 10,000 dogs are killed and consumed. Dog meat's believed to bring good luck and health. That gives an entirely new meaning to "the dog days of summer."
2. There's only one time zone
China is the third largest country in the world and just slightly larger than the US, in terms of total square mileage (check out these overlays). And yet, it uses Beijing Standard Time across the 9.6 million square meter soil. As a result, the Sun rises around 10am in Xinjiang -- China’s westernmost province. If the US worked that way, it might explain why people on the West Coast are so much more laid back -- they never have to get up early. But unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), the US figured out that maybe having the sunrise at 10 isn't a great idea.
3. You can't have kids until the government lets you
Shotgun weddings are not exactly a thing in The People's Republic. Married couples have to apply for and be approved for a Family Planning Certificate, formerly known as Birth Permit, three months before or after the pregnancy. And only with a certificate will your baby be considered legal. It gives an entirely new meaning to planned parenthood.
4. Women have to sit for a month after giving birth
After delivering her baby, a mom has to sit in bed for 30 days, suffering a restrictive confinement which is, according to traditional Chinese medicine, supposed to be "good" for her to recover. No bathing, no washing her hair, and no walking. But the trade-off is being fed loads of nutritious food, like chicken soup. Honestly? No wonder you've gotta get a license to have kids. It also includes a month of breakfast in bed.
5. Eggs boiled in virgin boys’ urine are a delicacy
You thought eating bugs or dogs was weird? Try a "sophisticated" version of boiled eggs: urine eggs, which are boiled for an entire day in the urine of boys under the age of 10. Locals believe they have myriad benefits, such as increasing circulation of the blood. And it's such a stalwart, the tradition was recognized as local intangible cultural heritage in 2008. That still doesn't make it any less gross.
6. Soccer originated in China
See that, England? Not your game. China may not excel at good old footie (as some call it), but it’s actually the birthplace of the game. Cuju, which literally means “kick the ball with foot,” was a popular game all the way back during the Han Dynasty (206 BC- 220 AD). Later, it spread to neighboring countries like Japan, Korea and Vietnam.
7. Significant Other rentals are a real thing
Being single can totally suck, especially when you head home for holidays and face an endless barrage of parents’ interrogations, such as “Are you seeing anyone?” “When are you getting married?” or "You're a failure." OK, that last one's not a question. But you can easily shut mom and dad up by renting a lover online and showing off your new, awesome SO. Then you can totally milk sympathy from everyone when you lie and say you got dumped.
8. Business deals require you to drink
Drinking culture is deeply rooted in Chinese society, but it goes way past owning the best-selling beer in the world. Making social connections, giving a toast, drinking up -- this is all basic drinking etiquette at a banquet. And the more you drink, the more your boss or business partners will like you -- basically the opposite of an American holiday party, where you're pretty much walking through a bigger HR minefield with every extra drink you down.
9. Pajamas are the new black in Shanghai
In the US, wearing sweatpants out in public is basically saying, "I give up." But comfy, ugly sleepwear is the go-to option for Shanghai locals who are crossing the street to get breakfast, or taking the dog for a walk (those are generally two different activities, despite the summer festival). But this style actually got so popular, the government cracked down on dressing down back in 2010 when the city was hosting the World Expo.
10. There aren't any movie ratings
But that doesn't mean 10-year-olds can freely watch Sly and the family mercenary blow away baddies in The Expendables 3. Quite the opposite, in fact. While mainland China lacks a film ratings system, a committee of 36 people cut any film scenes they deem inappropriate for viewers, regardless of age. Any scene that defaces China will be deleted -- in Skyfall, the scene where a Chinese security guard gets blown away ended up on the cutting room floor.
11. Everyone goes on vacation at the same time
The Chinese are barely allowed to take annual leaves, but when they do, they go all-in. Pretty much everyone gets holidays at the same time for Chinese New Year, and a massive total of 3.7 billion trips are made in just 40 days. So imagine all those lines at amusement parks, multiplied by airport security hassles, then take that to the power of a rush-hour subway car -- that's basically travel during Chinese New Year, the biggest human migration in history. And it happens every year.
12. Everyone watches the same channel at 7pm
Wanna watch a gameshow, or see highlights on ESPN? Too bad. Every day at 7pm, every TV channel is required to live broadcast the 30-minute long news program by state-run China Central Television. And it's been that way since 1978. So no shouting out answers in the form of questions at the TV right after dinner, unlike when you normally watch Jeopardy! after dinner.
13. Weird buildings are totally the norm
This MC Escher-esque delight? CCTV's headquarters. From fish-shaped architecture to a building shaped like a mobile phone, bizarre structures have popped up all over China’s skylines in the last few years. It got so weird, even President Xi Jinxing had to ask for the trend to stop.
14. The Chinese are copying everything
And we don't just mean pirated DVDs and music. Fake Apple stores, fake restaurants, fake banks -- there's just about nothing China can’t and won't fake. You can even have a taste of England in Shanghai -- thanks to Thames Town, where you can stroll down High Street, and even cross a man-made River Thames. The real question -- is fake, crappy, British food better, or worse, than real, crappy, British food?
15. China will have the most Christians on Earth
China's always played a big role in religion -- you can thank China for Buddhism,Taoism, and Confucianism. Officially, however, this is an atheist country. But the underground Christian population is growing all the time, and by 2030, China will eclipse the United States, with approximately 247 million people seeking spiritual comfort in JC. Right now, the US has about 246 million Christians.