Culture variability

The more I learn about different cultures, the more I find cases when same thing has different meaning in different cultures.

The most well-known example is, probably, the white color, in european tradition meaning purity and innosence, but in Japan related to death.

My favorite is what you should do with birthday presents. One line of thought teaches to unpack them right away. By doing it, you allow the presenter to see how delighted you are because of the gift. Besides, if you don’t look at the present, the presenter may think you’re not interested in it, and therefore in him.

Another tradition believes it is better to unpack the present later and alone. If the present is too cheap, the presenter may be publicly ashamed of it. And by ignoring the present you are sending the message that the presenter is more imporant for you than the present.

Go figure what is better.

Today I’ve learned another example. The moon is something cold and evil (the opposite of the sun) in Europe. But in China, it seems to mean something pure and constant, like in the song 月亮代表我的心 (my love is like a moon).

And this made me thinking about invariants in the world cultures. I believe, the vision of friendship and love being the most important immaterial values is the same across most cultures (unfortunately, I cannot say “all” cultures, because I know one where it is not so). What else is invariant? Is “treat others like you want you’ll be treated” it?..

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  1. You mentioned the Sun, but passed away from it. I believe the Sun is a constant (associated with something positive) for every (or most) of cultures.

  2. Yes.

    But your comment made me to research a little and I’ve found, that in Chinese, the Sun is associated with yang, the male principle, while the Moon is the yin, the female principle. Both seem to be equally important.

    And in Europe, the Sun seems to be clearly more important than the Moon.

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