China is a vast country with a vast spectrum of culture, and while there are various ways to examine those differences – rural/urban, rich/poor, and east/west, I’d like to take a few weeks and hone in on one in particular — north/south. Many other nations can be seen through the same lens – Israel from Dan to Beersheba, marking the boundaries for census-taking, and the U.S. with its Mason-Dixon line, marking the boundary for sweet tea sipping — and China is no different.
To start things off, let’s consider the obvious – climate.
I distinctly recall my wife and I moving to Atlanta from China back in 2016. She had spent her whole life up until that point living in Longyan, Fujian. I had spent the first 22 years of my life in Mobile, Alabama, and another five in Longyan.
One day at church, we made the comment that Atlanta is cold. I know, I know. I see you Ohioans that read my blog snickering over there in the corner.
No sooner than did we say that than did one of the church members say, “Well it’s certainly not as cold as China!”
I have to say that when I heard him say it I was legitimately confused for a half second.
Not as cold as China?!
Then it hit me. The church has missionaries in Northeast China, and everytime anyone from the church has gone to China, it has been to see them – in Northeast China. Northeast China is at about the same latitude as New England.
I then proceeded to explain that Longyan, Fujian, is on virtually the same latitude as Havana, Cuba!
During my five years in China (not to mention my wife’s over two decades) we had never once considered China “cold”. Our new church friends, however, couldn’t imagine the sweltering heat of South China.
You might now believe me if I told you that these extreme differences in climate tend to affect quite a lot when it comes to lifestyle and dress. But would you believe me if I told you it also affects diet and even speech? Stay tuned…