Monday, March 19, 2007

Culture Shock: Spring starts when we say it starts...

In celebration of the beginning of Spring this week, I planned my lessons around that theme: teaching the names of baby animals and some special terms common for spring conversation.

I started my lesson by writing "March 21st" on the board and asked the students about the date. They immediately guessed it was my birthday. They were wrong. Then after a minute of kids shouting out everything from "Halloween" to "today"--despite the fact that I repeatedly reminded them today was the 19th)--I finally wrote "first day of spring" on the board. They looked puzzled and several shouted, "No!"

My Korean co-teacher said, "By the Chinese calendar, spring begins in February." I tried to explain this isn't the difference of the day we divide the months, but the based on the revolution of the earth around the sun. You can't change the first day of spring based on a different calendar...or so I thought.

I read up on Spring and found that indeed it did have different "start" dates based on the culture. Most place it on the vernal equinox (usually March 21st). The Chinese lunar calendar puts the the vernal equinox in the middle of Spring.

Korea: I hear you. Fine, you can claim Spring begins in early February all you want. You are wrong.

Picture from Wikipedia

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