Chinese Religion

Chinese culture is naturally eclectic. Religious attitudes are shaped by folk religion (festivals, procedures in crisis, care of the dead, notions of good and bad luck etc.), Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. Most Chinese people draw on all these elements and do not see them as mutually exclusive. Islam and Christianity also exist in China, but these are a challenge to the traditional Chinese way of thinking because they demand commitment to one belief and rejection of others.

A basic Chinese view of things is expressed in the yin and yang duality. The way in which the black and white curve into each other shows the mutual dependence of yin and yang, and the white spot in the black and the black spot in the white show that each contains something of the other. Yin is the feminine, soft, yielding, receptive element and yang is the masculine, hard, active element. The different combinations and interactions of yin and yang produce the “wu-hsing”, the five fundamental natures represented by wood, fire, earth, metal and water.

An important element in practical matters for Chinese people is feng-shui (“wind and water”), the art of working out the best places for buildings, graves etc. by studying the flow of energy (ch’i) in the landscape.

Festivals are important in Chinese life. The chief festival is the New Year, fixed by the lunar calendar some time in January or February. It is an important family time: the family have a special meal together on the eve of the new year, and on the following days they visit their relatives with gifts. Those of the older generation give “red packets” to the younger generation containing “lucky money”.


The Chaplaincy to the University of Glamorgan provides the following information from its own researchers. Each page has been checked by the chaplaincy advisor from the relevant faith group. Within every major religion, there are differences of opinion between leaders, and between leaders and followers. We only aim to provide an overview.