There are certain assertions you'll hear only when living in China. When you come across one of these so-called “truths”, you’ll be struck with a number of questions. Where does this come from? Why do people believe this? Have I been living a lie all these years? This article aims to tackle some of the strange myths you'll encounter while living in China.
Anyone who has worked in a Chinese office during the summer is likely to have heard a colleague say, “Turn off that air conditioner, it’s freezing! I’m going to get sick!” Typically, Chinese people believe too much exposure to cold air, whether from an air conditioner or an open window, will cause them to catch cold.
While they’re not wrong that air conditioners can make you sick, I dare to venture that it’s not the temperature of the air, but rather the dirty air filters, that contribute to health problems.
There is perhaps an alternative story, originating from South Korea, behind this myth though. When air conditioners were first introduced there, they were big, bulky and required a lot of electricity to run. As such, parents would apparently tell their children that the air con would make them sick in order to cut-down on its use and save money on their electricity bill. Maybe Chinese parents have been playing the same trick…
The same person who will complain about the air con in the summer will also be the first one to open the windows on a polluted day to “let out the bad air”. I’m pretty sure I don’t need to explain why this makes no sense.
“I’ve just been in a car accident and broke my leg in three places!” “Just drink some hot water, you’ll be fine.” By far the most widespread myth in China is that hot water is the cure-all remedy.
However, they might be on to something. Water, regardless of the temperature, is always good for us, and in general we should be drinking more of it. But while hot water can help our digestive system and breakdown metabolic waste (whatever that is), the hot water myth is so ubiquitous that I wouldn’t be surprised to hear it touted as a cure for cancer in China.
The Chinese are all about temperature. They believe that each meat is designated either a hot, cold or neutral temperature, and eating too much of one kind can disrupt your internal temperature. This is in a large part due to the teachings of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), but is also based on flavor profiles, what the animal eats while it’s alive and the perceived “essence” of the animal.
To maintain an optimal internal temperature it is believed that you must eat more or less of a certain food, depending on whether you’re trying to heat up or cool down your body. For example, chicken is a “hot meat”, even if it’s served cold. The thinking states that eating chicken will increase your internal body temperature because chicken meat is “hot”.
I’ve not heard of this idea anywhere but China, and naturally I’m skeptical.
Have you ever seen a Chinese woman a few weeks after she’s given birth? The truth is, no-one has. This popular Chinese myth states that after a birth, a woman and child should be isolated and that the woman is not allowed to bathe or even wash her hair for up to a month. Doing so would apparently prevent the infant from benefiting from an important source of bacterial fauna.
While new born babies do get important anti-bodies from their mothers during the birth, most medical experts agree that bathing after having a child is medically okay (and surely beneficial to the self esteem of the mother). The myth seems to be spread by the older Chinese generation, the majority of whom, to be fair, probably only had cold water available when they were having their children.
First, let’s just acknowledge that Chinese women are more open about their periods than their Western counterparts. With that said, here are the most popular Chinese myths about mensuration:
1. Bathing is bad for periods
2. Tampons will take your virginity
3. Cold water is bad for periods
4. Getting a massage or exercising is bad while on your period
As a male, I’ll be the first to admit that I have no experience with periods, nor am I the most qualified person to write about this topic. However, here goes:
Bathing is not bad while on your period. Neither is exercising. Most women I know actually find both help with cramps.
Is cold water bad to drink while on a period? I feel silly even having to answer this question. No. It’s worth noting that our bodies usually run at around 98.6 degrees F, so anything we ingest warms up immediately anyway. It’s not like ice cream stays as a frozen mass inside your stomach.
Lastly, from what I know, using tampons or pads is just a personal preference - it comes down to what you think is most comfortable or suitable for your period. Although, good luck finding tampons in your average Chinese supermarket.
Are these all in fact all true? Am I preaching alternative facts? Let me know in the comments below about your experience with these Chinese myths and any others you may have heard.
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Keywords: living in China
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