SOCIAL MEDIA

24 October 2014

Cultural Faux Pas

At this point, I'd kind of thought we were immune to this. I have lived in Asia before, and I spent my entire college career studying the language, philosophy, and culture of China, so I thought I had a good handle on all the dos and do nots of our new home.

Turns out, when it comes to culture, like most things in life, you never stop learning.

Because, you see, when Angel is too lazy to style his hair, he'll wear a baseball cap instead.


Lately it's been this John Deere cap, because it's the only one he has. This lifestyle doesn't allow for a lot of duplicates.

Angel made the grand mistake of going casual to the office on a day when he didn't have any classes. "Casual" meant he didn't want to put product in his hair, so he wore a cap.

He'd hardly been working at his desk for long when a coworker pulled up a stool next to him. From her body language, he could already tell that he was in for a serious conversation.

"I know you're new to China," she said, "And I am very, very sorry to tell you this, but it is very bad for you to wear a green hat."

He snatched the formerly-innocent John Deere advertisement off his head, stuffed it in the backpack, and said, "Can I ask why?"

"Just believe me. It's very bad."

Now we know, from this point on, Angel will only wear his cap when we travel outside the country.

We were curious enough to do our own research on why wearing a green hat is so bad that our coworkers won't even tell us why it's bad. According to the internet, wearing a green hat means a man's wife is cheating on him. Aiyah! Also, according to the internet, the reasoning behind this is because the phrase describing the action of wearing a green hat sounds similar to the phrase that means cuckold. Not that everything found on the internet is true, but to me, this has the ring of truth, as most Chinese superstitions stem from a would-be innocent object being a homonym or near-homonym of something bad and undesirable. The nature of Mandarin lends itself to homonyms, they are much more common in that language than in English, but this is one I'd never yet come across.

If you're ever in China, now you know, leave the green hats at home!

31 comments :

  1. Hahahaha as soon as I saw the picture....

    I used to wear a green hat sometimes. But when I first became roommates with my Chinese roommate of 3 years, she would tell me about what a green hat meant in Chinese culture every time I would leave our apartment with it! haha...luckily we didn't live in China though, so it was okay to wear it.

    A funny faux pas I had in my first week in China was with this white flower I used to wear in my hair. I'm sure you know that wearing white - and especially white flowers - is symbolic of when someone close to you has died in China. The sad part is I actually KNEW that, but had just forgotten since I wore it so often back then. I wore it for several days without anyone saying anything, and finally the dean of my college scolded me for it! It was embarrassing, but I'm glad she reminded me so I could stop wearing it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. LOL! Wow that is a funny story. Who knew? I'll make sure my husband leaves his green hat at home on his next trip to China.

    bisous
    Suzanne

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh how bizarre poor Angel! Rachel xo

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow! Who would have known? At least his co-worker was nice to give him a head's up. I'm sure you learn something new every day:)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Haha...oh my, that's terrible! John Deere fans around here would be very disgruntled if they had to stop wearing green!

    ReplyDelete
  6. The homonym thing is very true! This is so funny-- I've definitely committed a few faux pas in Asia...

    ReplyDelete
  7. LOL! That's incredibly shocking - I would've never guessed it was because of the COLOR. I know in some cultures wearing a hat inside a facility can be disrespectful, esp at a place of work but due to the color? Amazing. Will keep that in mind if ever in China iwth the partner. :P Have a great one Rachel! Really enjoyed this tidbit - Iva

    ReplyDelete
  8. Haha that is so funny! I would have never guessed wearing a green hat could be such a big deal!
    Melanie @ meandmr.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. I wouldn't have known this either. Might explain why I've never seen my dad wear a green hat!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh man...that is really funny! Who would have known that a green hat could stir up so much trouble? Next time Isaiah wears his green hat I'm just going to scream "I AM NOT!!" and run away and see what happens.

    ReplyDelete
  11. That is so interesting!! Good thing someone told you!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. This is why I love your blog so much! I learn something new every time I read a post.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oh no! Now you will know why some coworkers might give you funny looks!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh my. You must check what colour hat you can search out! [A whole 'language of flowers' but with baseball caps. Who knew?!!]

    ReplyDelete
  15. So funny! Who would have known. If I ever go to China, I will have to remember this. But I probably won't.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Very interesting! You just put another wrinkle in my brain, and gave me a conversation starter for sure :)
    XOXOXO

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wow what an interesting superstition or belief!! I'm glad your husband found out but I would have thought the person would at least give him a reason why...I guess that shows how much they believe in it.

    ReplyDelete
  18. That is so interesting! I can't believe a green hat can have that much meaning! I do think it was very kind of his co worker to warn him!

    www.momfever.com

    ReplyDelete
  19. HAHAHA good to know! Holy crap!

    PS: John Deere rules, China. Get with it.

    ReplyDelete
  20. That's so crazy!!! At least the coworker had enough kindness to warn him about it and not assume the green hat represented the truth!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Here's what I want to know: would someone ever wear a green hat on purpose? I mean, why would you want to advertise that your wife was cheating on you?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Oh wow, that's so interesting! It's nice that someone told him right away. Looks like it's time for a new hat!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Look at that picture of Angel cheating on you! ;-P

    ReplyDelete
  24. Haha, poor Angel! I never knew that, interesting!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Wow, who knew an innocent John Deere hat could be so dangerous! Good thing your coworker warned him.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Wow! That's definitely one of those "who knew?" kind of things. How unexpected! I wonder how many people saw him in the green hat and felt pity for him before the other teacher was kind enough to alert him? :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. That's kinda funny! Who would want to advertise that?! "Hello, look at me!! Wifey cheatin' on me!" Ha!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Oh wow!! I didn't know this one either! My sister is in Wuhan right now. I'll have to ask her to ask one of her friends about this. I bet you're right about why!

    ReplyDelete