Explaining the four seasons
The four seasons are such an integral part of British life it seems incredibly strange when people who live near to the equator do not understand them. A huge part of the world’s population lives near to the border between the hemispheres and therefore don’t see the big changes in temperature and weather conditions that people in the north or south experience.
A country’s culture changes depending on what time of year it is. In the summer, people go on day trips to the beach, sit outside in the garden, drink coffee on the street and because of this, are more cheerful and happy. On the other hand, in winter people hide indoors as much as possible, go on fewer days out and the idea of sitting outside becomes laughable.
I recently found myself having to explain to some modern languages students what kind of weather happens in spring, summer, autumn and winter, as well as when they happen! The students were fascinated by the idea of a whole culture changing so much between summer and winter. However, what really confused them was the idea that in Britain our days and nights change length throughout the year. They did not believe me when I told them that in winter the sun sets at four o’clock whereas in summer it can stay until after ten o’clock at night.
This experience reminded me that a culture isn’t just about the people and the traditions that are celebrated in a certain place. The geography of the place plays a crucial role in defining what people do there as well. A simple example is sport: in summer, sports like surfing and climbing are practiced lots more because the weather conditions are right for them. In the winter, however, sports like skiing or ice skating which require snowy conditions become much more popular. This was a very foreign concept to my students, most of whom probably have never seen a real snowfall in their life.