Spring is almost here!
Yep, that’s what I said, spring. In Asia, people traditionally followed the lunar calendar. The new year starts in February and this is also considered the beginning of spring. In all fairness, there are some trees that blossom in February. Where I live, the plum blossoms are very popular to go see. (Japanese plums are not actually plums at all, but are related to apricots. They cannot be eaten unless pickled.) Also, what we call Chinese New Year in English is also the Chinese Spring Festival.
I was quite surprised when doing a quiz game with my students one year. I asked them, “What season is it now?” Being February, I of course knew that it was winter. But, the students answered that it was spring. What?! I couldn’t believe that they didn’t even know such a basic thing! They were 15 years old! The teacher (who spoke English well enough but not quite well enough to explain their answer to me) said that foreign countries have a different way of thinking. Um, okaaaaaaay. I was also further surprised to discover that all of my students believed that February was the beginning of spring. I was highly irritated. I have since then calmed down.
Since I have been over here in Japan, I have come across many differences. Unfortunately, I haven’t always met those differences with a mature attitude. “How dumb!” is something I have frequently thought. People often say that they are interested in other cultures, but I think that only extends to vacation time activities. When you have to live with it, rarely are such differences tolerated or met with understanding. I have gotten used to a lot of things, but I still run into things that I just can’t let slide. (Like the time the local government office tried to give me “back” ¥50,000 [$500] that wasn’t mine. I spent at least 20 minutes trying to explain to this lady that it wasn’t mine. She agreed with me and promptly gave me the money!)
February snow showers bring March…?
The interesting thing is that with the advent of the spring in February, there are no changes, except for the few trees that blossom. China has its biggest festival of the year but in the west, we all call it Chinese New Year. I guess calling it the spring festival would be too unnerving for many people. There is a festival here in Japan, but it’s not a big to do at all. It’s just something people do at their homes. I’ll write about that next time.
Just a little more
So, even though spring is almost here, I will simply go about my daily activities and continue to freeze my tail off. That is, until the solar calendar spring comes.