China Elevator Stories

Saying Your Age In China

When people ask my husband about his age, he will tell different people a different age.


Ruth Silbermayr
Ruth Silbermayr


When Austrians ask my husband how old he is, he’ll say he’s 31. When people in South China ask him about his age, he’ll say he’s 32. And when people in Northeast China ask him, he’ll say he’s 33.

So what is true? Does he sometimes lie about his age?

Fact is, he doesn’t. All answers are correct. Let me explain.

For a Westerner, he is 31, counted from the exact date of his birthday.

In most parts of China though, he is considered 32. After the Chinese New Year, Chinese add one year to their actual age. What counts is not the exact date of your birthday, but how old you’ll turn the upcoming year in the Lunar Calendar.

The same goes for Northeast China, as well as South Korea, where one year is added after Spring Festival and another year is added, because in these areas a baby is already considered to be one year of age on the day of its birth.

Confusing? Not anymore!

Have you ever been confused about someone’s actual age?

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