These are the seven Chinese characters used to depict the days of week, starting from Sunday. I find it interesting that the character for Sunday in Chinese, and the root word for Sunday in English both mean “The Sun.” Likewise for Monday, (moon day) and “The Moon.” After that I’m not sure. I never cease to be amazed by the various naturally occurring elements in nature, which appear in various cultures.
For example there are ancient traditions in both Eastern and Western belief systems and mythologies surround giant evil reptiles that pose a danger to humans. In European mythology, these “dragons” appear as giant fire breathing lizards. In Eastern mythology, the dragons look more like snakes, sometimes with legs, sometimes not. That they are both reptiles is interesting.
I suppose that ancient man discovered that some reptiles, such as snakes and certain lizards, were much more dangerous than their size and speed would indicate. I can see how primitive man would somehow imagine them to have evil, supernatural powers that would fill stories for generations. From that standpoint, it’s no mystery that both cultures, separated by huge oceans and continents, turned out to be the same basic bad guy in various mythological stories.
Another interesting similarity is the number twelve. Western astrology has twelve different zodiac signs, as does Eastern astrology. It’s no coincidence that if you count the number of full moons in a year’s time, you’ll usually end up with twelve.
There are, of course, several different theories as to why there are so many things in common that cross cultural boundaries. Christians will tell you it is because we all come from Adam and Eve. Jungian philosophers will tell you its’ because we are connected by a massive unconscious, or superconscious brain that feeds our dreams with the same archetypes.
However, there are those that suggest the answer lies in the fact that we all share similar experiences, regardless with what culture we come from, what era we live in, and what language we speak or what god we worship.
For example, the universal signal for no is a shake of the head. Back and forth. No. Every culture, same motion. Even in cultures that have done their best to avoid contact with “civilized” society, they share the same headshake for no.
Why is this? Is it programmed in our genes? The best answer I’ve heard says yes, but from a completely indirect reason. There is no gene that says shake your for no. But there are genes that build our muscles and the shapes of our head and the rate of our growth as children. And our limited body size and control of our muscles lead us to our first ever “no” motion. And because that first ever “no” fulfills it’s purpose, that is the thing we say “no” to stops, we learn right away an effective strategy that works. What is the situation?
We are breastfeeding, and we get full. We think (obviously without words, since we’re about a couple hours old at most) “I’m full. No more. Stop. No.” And the only physical movement we are capable of doing is to turn our heads to the side.
The very first gesture we learn, strictly by trial and error, is how to say “no.”
It’s easy to see then, how every human learns this simple gesture. As far as nodding our head for yes, I’m not sure how that works, but it might have something to do with tilting out heads back and opening our mouths.
Here in Japan it’s a tradition to get up and watch the sunrise on New Years Day. A new beginning. A fresh start. Set the scorecards to zero. One more trip around the sun.
Something to think about as you look at your calendars, and see 1/1/10. When you realize that all around the world people are looking at the same calendars, with the same numbers, and feeling the same thoughts. Another year. Another shot at getting what we want, and getting rid of what we don’t want.
Another trip around the sun on this big ball of dirt filled with people chasing after their dreams. Another year filled with cycles of the moon, the sun, the seasons, and the weather. Another year filled with countless opportunities waiting for you to pounce and make them yours.