It’s funny the way language can influence our perceptions of the seasons. Yesterday there was an annoying fly buzzing around our house, one of the really smart ones that takes several days to finally kill. When he evaded my flyswatter yet again, my wife laughed and said, “Of course the flies are annoying now. It’s May. ” She was referring to the kanji for the word urusai (meaning loud or obnoxious, or if said to someone, essentially “shut up!”) being written with characters that translate as “buzzing flies in May,” an interesting linguistic factoid that foreigners are always fascinated to discover. Cultural traditions can also pop up at surprising times, too. Back when I was a teacher, I had a textbook in which some children were flying a kite in summer, but one of my students was amazed. “Flying a kite is something you do around New Year’s Day, why would they do this in the summer?” In Japan, flying a kite (called a tako, not to be confused with an octopus or the Mexican food) is a traditional activity done to celebrate the new year. (If you dislike buzzing flies like I do, note that we’ve got a new improved version of the popular Fruit Fly Dying House.)
An example of New Year’s kite flying, Touhou style.