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Old 02-16-2009, 12:12 AM
Kyla is offline
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Europeans, are you afraid of cross-breezes?


This subject came up in this thread and rather than hijacking it any further, I'm opening a new thread.

I am curious about how widely spread this belief is. In case you aren't familiar with it, in parts of Europe (maybe just SE/E Europe?) there is a belief that cross-breezes will make you sick. My only personal experience with this belief is in Bulgaria, where it's called techenie. You can open a door, or you can open a window, but if you open them BOTH (even on a hot day), you have techenie and will become sick. This is not a superstition, it is a genuinely held belief by people of all ages.

Is this ringing any bells with you?
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Old 02-16-2009, 12:17 AM
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I assume it's mainly an old-people thing, but my grandmother, who's from Poland, believes the same thing. The unfortunate thing is that my father believes her to be the last authority on all things medical and when I was young I would throw up in the car if I had to go anywhere with them because they would close all the windows in 30 degree weather.

The most she would do in her house was open the back door - never that and a window.
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Old 02-16-2009, 12:18 AM
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Dutch here.

Oh yes. Chronic cross breezes, or drafts (in Dutch: " tocht") are irritating and annoying, and they can make your neck stiff. If they increase your chances of catching a cold, I'm not sure, but it is certainly commonly believed.

Bear in mind almost no-one here has air conditioning, so opening windows is a necessity. And drafts are a side-effect.
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Old 02-16-2009, 12:22 AM
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Huh. As a former desert-dweller, cross-breezes were essential.
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Old 02-16-2009, 12:26 AM
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How odd. I'd have thought that the "cross breeze" would be a pretty good thing. So, no, I don't think we have that superstition in Britain.
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Old 02-16-2009, 12:34 AM
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Well, there's a difference between a breeze in the house, and a draft. I'm not really sure what the difference is, but it is there. I guess cross breeze is a breeze you intentionally created and intentionally enjoy, while a draft is an insidious thing that leaves you cold and stiff necked.

Outside temperature has nothing to do with it: I have heard people complain of drafts on hot days, when in the same office other people begged for windows to be opened.
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Old 02-16-2009, 12:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Kyla View Post
This is not a superstition, it is a genuinely held belief by people of all ages.
Not sure what you're using for a definition of "superstition," but the fact that it's a genuinely held belief in no way disqualifies it as one.
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Old 02-16-2009, 01:08 AM
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This belief is very widespread in Germany!
We Americans found it quite funny.

An American woman I knew married a German guy (they were both in their 20's) and had just moved into their new apartment. It had windows on both sides of the apartment, so one hot summer night, during a party, the American woman opened both windows. She told me people started screaming, "Es zieht! Es zieht!!" (There is a draft!) and lunged towards one of the windows to stop the dreaded passing of air through a hot, smoky, humid room. The American woman just muttered, "In the US, you pay more for an apartment with a breeze..."

Even today, Germans who visit me here in the US freak out when there is so much as a puff of air moving from one window to the next.

Very odd, but common with Germans of all ages.
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Old 02-16-2009, 01:11 AM
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I had already answered in the other thread, but I wanted to chime in that it is a common belief in Italy, even on the most miserably hot days.

Only tangentially related, but I had an Italian teacher in high school with whom I had some back and forth on this topic. One day we were walking back from a field trip and it started to rain. Most people ran for it, but I decided just to get soaked and enjoy the walk. When she saw me, she tutted and said, "Oh, Erdosain, you're going to get sick getting wet like that." I responded as only a snotty 17-year-old know-it-all would and said, "Germs make you sick, Mrs. XXXX, not rain."

Next day? I was fucking sick.

I think there are a lot of weird cultural beliefs like this. For example, in Argentina, a lot of people thought eating watermelon and drinking milk together was tantamount to poisoning yourself. I'm sure there are some weird American beliefs, I just can't think of any right now...
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Old 02-16-2009, 01:12 AM
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Not sure what you're using for a definition of "superstition," but the fact that it's a genuinely held belief in no way disqualifies it as one.

I think it's an old wive's tale rather than a superstition as it doesn't rely on magical beliefs, frex if they said that cold imps rode on the cross breezes.

Having seen DMarks' post we don't like draughts on cold days in England but I've never heard anyone complain about opeing multiple apertures on a hot day (when we have them).

Last edited by Springtime for Spacers; 02-16-2009 at 01:15 AM. Reason: To add stuff
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Old 02-16-2009, 03:13 AM
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I think there are a lot of weird cultural beliefs like this. For example, in Argentina, a lot of people thought eating watermelon and drinking milk together was tantamount to poisoning yourself. I'm sure there are some weird American beliefs, I just can't think of any right now...
I've heard that there is a belief among some in South Korea that sleeping with a fan on in a closed room will kill you deader than a doorknob.

I think these kinds of superstitions/old wives tales are so interesting! Makes me wonder how much of the stuff that I "just know" is wrong.
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Old 02-16-2009, 03:29 AM
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It may just be my wife's family, but they all insist on opening doors and windows on cold drafty days, with bone chilling cross breezes all over the place. (This is in Taiwan.) Never mind that houses and apartments aren't very well insulated to begin with here: my wife is convinced that if all the doors and windows are shut at the same time, we'll all suffocate from a gas leak.

On the other hand, people *do* suffocate in closed rooms here occasionally, sometimes from having an open charcoal stove warming up the room while they're sleeping. But I attribute that to the idiotic local approach to household safety that I've complained about before. I'm not afraid to say it: sometimes local culture is just stupid.
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Old 02-16-2009, 03:34 AM
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Dutch here.

Oh yes. Chronic cross breezes, or drafts (in Dutch: " tocht") are irritating and annoying, and they can make your neck stiff. If they increase your chances of catching a cold, I'm not sure, but it is certainly commonly believed.
.
The difference between a "tocht" and "ventilatie" is that one is baffled and the other is not. Or at least that is my tentative conclusion after some years of trying to convince my relations that cross ventilation is a positive thing.

That is, in my house anyway, the doors and windows are arranged in such a way that cross ventilation is not easily possible. Interior doors and windows are placed to block cross ventilation.

Apparently the prescribed 15 minutes of daily airing is to be carried out room by room, or at least with interior doors closed. Which I think is entirely mad, but I grew up in the American South where cross ventilation is mandatory (less so nowadays since everyone has airco).

Finally I told my beloved mother in law that I recently read in the paper that, at least in the United States, they were considering going to the germ theory of illness and abandoned the notion of humors altogether. She laughed her ass off and quit fighting me on the ventilation thing.

But we had to close all the interior doors again when her friends came over. They wouldn't understand, you see....

Last edited by Marienee; 02-16-2009 at 03:35 AM.
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Old 02-16-2009, 03:44 AM
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Ahhh! the dreaded сквозняк [svoznyak]! as I used to call it when I lived in Moscow.
Every. Single. Russian. I've ever known, educated or illiterate, was convinced that a cross-breeze was a guaranteed bout of pneumonia just waiting to happen. Doesn't matter what the temperature is, if there was air moving between two windows (even in different rooms!), it's death. Fans are fine. Air conditioners? No problem. Gentle breeze when you're outdoors? How refreshing! But get air moving in an enclosed space due to two openings in different walls, and you might as well check into the hospital right now.
In fact, I associated it so strongly with the Russian mentality that I was shocked later to learn how widespread the belief was in Germany as well. And now the Dutch?
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Old 02-16-2009, 04:17 AM
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Actually, I just moved into my sisters appartment (while she is working overseas) and before she left she told me I should wear something around my neck (scarf or something) because there is a slight draft. I of course looked at her strangly and did nothing of the sort, but I must say that after living theer for 10 days, I've developed quite a sore throat...
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Old 02-16-2009, 06:13 AM
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On a recent visit to Bratislava our guide-book warned about this regarding bus travel. The book said that if you ever have the temerity to open a window you will be met by disapproving looks from the rest of the passengers.
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:15 AM
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"Es zieht!"

Very true, but in my experience it really only applies if there is a cold, unpleasant draft in the room. If it's hot, nobody will complain.
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Old 02-16-2009, 09:56 AM
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The dreaded ' corrente'. Yes, here in Italy having any kind of draught in a room spells dire consequences. You may get 'cervicale' which is a particular kind of sore neck, or even the 'colpa di strega' (because of the witch), same thing... Sitting under an air conditioner on public transport causes the same problem... I have had parents come in the classroom on a 30 degree centigrade day to shut the door because I had windows open.
While we're on the subject, these parents ask us not to let the children run too much in winter because they are wearing many layers and get hot. You know that if they sweat they will get sick. Not to mention the dad who said that his son should be allowed a bottle to drink from because he isn't very good with a cup ( at three years old...) and he spills water down the front of his sweater, this is why he has such a bad cough... Sleeping with your hair still wet, or heaven forfend, going outside with it wet will cause all manner of headaches and colds. Heard it all since being here, I really have... As an English person I find all very odd, we don't have all this worry about breezes and sweating in cold weather.

Last edited by Butterscotch; 02-16-2009 at 10:01 AM.
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Old 02-16-2009, 10:19 AM
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Not sure what you're using for a definition of "superstition," but the fact that it's a genuinely held belief in no way disqualifies it as one.
Well, in my mind a superstition is something people don't REALLY believe, like stepping on a crack will break your mother's back or that breaking a mirror will make you unlucky. Bulgarians REALLY REALLY believe that the techenie will make you sick.

Like Marienee, I tried to bring up the germ theory of disease, but the Bulgarians still didn't believe me. (Not a surprise, considering that they also believe that rakia cures all illnesses.)
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Old 02-16-2009, 11:28 AM
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Oh yes, although it seems to be dying slowly. In Polish it's called "przeciąg". It was really common belief, say, fifty years ago - both my Grandmas were living in constant fear of keeping two windows open. My Mom often warned me about drafts when I was kid, but over time she seems to eased. I never truly seen them as something other than just wind, only indoors.
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Old 02-16-2009, 11:43 AM
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On a recent visit to Bratislava our guide-book warned about this regarding bus travel. The book said that if you ever have the temerity to open a window you will be met by disapproving looks from the rest of the passengers.
Because while you are getting a cooling breeze those of us further back are freezing to death in the 60 mph slipstream.
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Old 02-16-2009, 11:51 AM
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Because while you are getting a cooling breeze those of us further back are freezing to death in the 60 mph slipstream.
Surely not on an urban bus that's doing probably 20mph on a hot summer's day.
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Old 02-16-2009, 12:04 PM
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Chiming in to slam the Asians. Having noted the interesting comment from Taiwan (but Taiwan is usually hotter than Hell IMLE), most if not all Japanese and Chinese of my acquaintance have a mortal fear of moving air. Even when they can be brought to raise the air conditioning to a reasonably appropriate temperature (IME the average Japanese business has its AC set to about 81 in August), they will not tolerate any circulation of said air, so it feels even more stagnant and stifling than the temperature would suggest. Anecdotal evidence suggests that they too are motivated by fear of dread disease and distemperment that will ensue if moving air touches you. Japanese ladies will enter said 81 degree rooms wearing sweaters and carrying lap blankets.
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Old 02-16-2009, 12:04 PM
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Surely not on an urban bus that's doing probably 20mph on a hot summer's day.
Maybe not 20 mph but I travel by bus almost daily from work and I'm sick of selfish fuckers opening the window above their head, uncaring of the hurricane created further back.

But then again i do work at a university and this generation of students do appear to have been born in a barn.
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Old 02-16-2009, 12:17 PM
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My mother was from Tennessee and she was utterly convinced that if you were to go outside with damp hair on a cool evening you'd catch pneumonia. The same thing would happen if your shoes and socks got damp.

Last edited by FallenAngel; 02-16-2009 at 12:18 PM.
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Old 02-16-2009, 07:14 PM
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All my German/Amish relatives would go apeshit if there was a draft. Close the door! Windows can be open a crack, but there must be NO cross-ventilation!!
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Old 02-17-2009, 01:22 AM
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What is their explanation for this belief? How does an educated, intelligent person, who understands and believes in modern science, explain this belief? This is truly bizarre.
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Old 02-17-2009, 01:47 AM
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My Hungarian-born, highly educated father forbid us from opening windows on both sides of the car at the same time for this reason.

Ed
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Old 02-17-2009, 07:28 AM
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My grandmother, who was born and raised here in the US, lives in mortal fear of a draft. No matter where she goes, if there is a window opened the slightest crack, or a vent that may have air conditioning coming out of it, she can't be anywhere near it. Also, she flips out if the windows are opened in the car. This summer, I had to drive her somewhere and it was about 90 degrees out. She only let me open the window about an inch on her side. I had my side all the way down because the minivan we were in had no AC and I was about to burst into flames. We sweltered the whole trip and I was not in the greatest mood when we got to our destination.

The ridiculous fear of drafts always made me crazy. Now, even at 35, I feel like I am bucking the system when I go out with wet hair or drive with all the windows open.

I'm surprised to read that young people carry on the fear of drafts. I always assumed it was an old lady thing.
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Old 02-17-2009, 09:12 AM
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I am reminded of the story of an american who purchased an english stately home. He loved the place, but found the main room unbearably drafty. So he spend the summer fitting draft excluders, sealing the windows, and arranging drapes until all the drafts were gone. By now, it was getting on for winter, and on a cold night, he decided to light the open fire to warm the room. But nothing he could do would make the fire burn - the room just filled with smoke and the fire would die out.

In desperation, he called his neighbour, who popped over. "You go and make a cup of tea, and I'll sort this out," said the neighbour. By the time the homeowner had returned, the fire was blazing, there was no smoke and all was well. And the draft excluders had been removed from the doors, the window was open slightly, and the rearranged drapes moved to restore the room to its original drafty state.

Si
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Old 02-17-2009, 10:43 AM
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This has been a very eye-opening thread. I really strongly associated this with the Bulgarian mindset and it's strange to realize how widespread this idea is. Thanks, y'all.
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Old 02-17-2009, 11:05 AM
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Indians, too, and it's fucking hot in India. AC breezes are OK. Fan breezes are OK. Cross breezes are NOT. I hated it when I was there - those breezes felt SO nice!
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Old 02-17-2009, 11:29 AM
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As odd beliefs go, this is an odd beleif.

The closest I can think of to it is the switch in the belief that a sea-breeze is good for you to being that a sea breeze is bad for you (contains rotting seaweed)

Edit: Correction: Doesn't contain actual rotting seaweed (that'd have to be one hell of a windy and unpleasant day). Rotting seaweed fumes.

Last edited by Lobsang; 02-17-2009 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 02-17-2009, 12:10 PM
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Of course, without a fan timer you will die.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fan_death
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Old 02-17-2009, 12:20 PM
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Of course, without a fan timer you will die.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fan_death
I should be dead by now.
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Old 02-17-2009, 12:32 PM
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How would they feel about being in one of these buildings?
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/119/2...ce6b93e2_o.jpg

http://lh4.ggpht.com/_pV85ummeVrc/Rm...g/IMG_5106.JPG
http://tour.airstreamlife.com/weblog...ad%20stand.jpg
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Old 02-17-2009, 12:35 PM
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Hmm, well it's not that easy to answer. In Poland drafts are generally seen as a bad thing, and yes, everytime I was told to close the window/door (whichever was causing the 'przeciąg') it came with a warning about getting sick. But I always connected it with the more general "cold will make you sick", which is also the source and cause of warnings about sitting around with wet hair, going out in the winter without appropriate clothes (or, more accurately, what the admonishing person thinks is appropriate) or even standing for too long in front of an open fridge. I honestly never got the feeling that the draft itself, without being cold, can make you sick.

By the way, I believe I read that while being cold will not make you sick on its own, it can weaken your body's defences and make it easier for opportunist germs to carry out a succesful invasion - any truth to this?
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Old 02-17-2009, 12:38 PM
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This is just too weird. My mother in law came here from Germany as a little kid. I'll have to ask her if Oma was off the beam with regard to cross-breezes.

The closest I've ever come to anything like this was when I was having a pair of leather pants made by some biker chick in Fuckin' HOT Wisconsin.

I had to hang out at her house while she did the final sizing and sewing. It was like 105 degrees and they wouldn't open any windows (and had no AC). They thought the house would get even hotter. I was there for about 4 hours and I thought I'd freekin' die. It had to be over 100 degrees in the house.
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Old 02-17-2009, 12:57 PM
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By the way, I believe I read that while being cold will not make you sick on its own, it can weaken your body's defences and make it easier for opportunist germs to carry out a succesful invasion - any truth to this?
pssst! This is better suited for GQ
Having said that, here are a few words on colds from the Master.

You'd think, though, if cold weather lowered body resistance, that there'd be a spike in all diseases during the winter months. Doesn't seem to be the case, though.
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Old 02-17-2009, 05:56 PM
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Not exactly on topic, but I lived in China for awhile and tutored a South Korean businessman in English a few days a week. One day "fan death" came up and he was completely astounded that it wasn't something we worried about in the States; he'd even read explanations of the "science" behind it in the newspapers, he said. We ended up getting totally derailed while I tried to explain to him that, if fan death were real, my state (Oklahoma) would have a population of about six.
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Old 02-17-2009, 07:35 PM
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(UK) Never heard of it. I do sometimes try to avoid opening opposite doors and/or windows if there's a risk that the breeze will slam them about, but that's a purely practical measure.
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Old 02-17-2009, 09:16 PM
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Only tangentially related, but I had an Italian teacher in high school with whom I had some back and forth on this topic. One day we were walking back from a field trip and it started to rain. Most people ran for it, but I decided just to get soaked and enjoy the walk. When she saw me, she tutted and said, "Oh, Erdosain, you're going to get sick getting wet like that." I responded as only a snotty 17-year-old know-it-all would and said, "Germs make you sick, Mrs. XXXX, not rain."

Next day? I was fucking sick.
I've (American) generally loved cross-breezes, as it really refreshes the house. But last year I was kind of tired of the stale air in my apartment, and, seeing as there was a nice 70 degree (F) breeze outside, I decided to open the windows and let some fresh air in.

3 hours later I was beset with one of the worst attacks of the chills I've ever had, and felt like absolute crap for the next 4 days. Now correlation doesn't necessarily = causation (as in I may have already contracted something beforehand), but make of that what you will.
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Old 02-17-2009, 11:00 PM
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I suppose it all comes down to just how cross the breeze happens to be that day. When it's *really* grumpy , you'd know to be careful.
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Old 02-18-2009, 12:00 AM
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Not exactly on topic, but I lived in China for awhile and tutored a South Korean businessman in English a few days a week. One day "fan death" came up and he was completely astounded that it wasn't something we worried about in the States; he'd even read explanations of the "science" behind it in the newspapers, he said. We ended up getting totally derailed while I tried to explain to him that, if fan death were real, my state (Oklahoma) would have a population of about six.
Fan death is something I find odder than the "cross breeze" thing, if only because they actually think it will kill you, not just make you sick. The worst part is that doctors, scientists, and engineers in Korea, China, Japan, and other parts of Asia this has spread to believe in it too! I mean...these are people that know about physiology and/or thermodynamics, and should know better, but most of them believe it and continue to warn about the "dangers" of a fan being in a room while you're asleep.
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Old 02-18-2009, 08:39 AM
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I can't count how many times in Japan I've crawled back to my hotel room, fantasizing about some shut-eye after a 15-hour day, middle of summer, no air conditioning, and the f*cking maid has closed the goddam windows. Then I have to spend the next two hours opening windows, opening the door, strategically placing fans, sticking my head in the freezer, and waiting for it to get not hot enough to sleep. Happens in Russia all the time, too, even in winter, where they like to superheat your room with radiators you cannot turn off or down.

I live for the crossbreeze and the slow death of people that believe otherwise.
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Old 02-18-2009, 09:12 AM
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I have never heard of this in the UK either. In fact there seems to be more of a fear of houses being "stuffy". As soon as the temperature noses above about 55 degrees (Fahrenheit), my relatives tend to fling open any available window to "get some fresh air in".
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Old 02-18-2009, 09:30 AM
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I have never heard of this in the UK either. In fact there seems to be more of a fear of houses being "stuffy". ..

That sounds about right to me too.
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Old 02-18-2009, 09:55 AM
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I lived in China for awhile and tutored a South Korean businessman in English a few days a week. One day "fan death" came up and he was completely astounded that it wasn't something we worried about in the States; he'd even read explanations of the "science" behind it in the newspapers, he said.
Wiki article on fan deaths, with a reference back to the Dope. It contains the science behind fan deaths, and the government's position on taking precautions against them.
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Old 02-18-2009, 12:39 PM
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Widespread myth in Mexico, especially among older folks. I assume it was imported from Spain.
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Old 02-18-2009, 01:00 PM
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In Spain it is not about having "cross-breezes"... how the heck are you supposed to ventilate the house if not by opening every openable item the architect put in? When it's been 40ºC in the shadow all day long, it's gone down to a blessed 35ºC at night and you don't have A/C, the only reason you don't take a hammer to the walls is the need to close them back when the sun returns!

But you're not supposed to stand or sit in the breeze thus created for long, or to go out of the house into a cold day with your hair wet (considered a possible cause for "head colds").

People who know perfectly well about the existence of viruses still reckon that well, it's still a better idea to not give your body any temperature shocks if you can help them, aye? After all, chilblains and "cut digestion" (1) are caused by sudden changes in temperature, aye? Bugs are more likely to breed in specific conditions and, since no doctor has proved that standing in the breeze with your head cold does not increase the risk of getting a cold, assume that the old wives' hypothesis works, aye?

Note: the PhD thesis of a friend of mine carried, among others, the consequence of proving scientifically that a lot of "rules of thumb" or "old farmer's ways" which a certain brand of "scientists" despised as unproven-therefore-unscientific do work. If it's so with fruit trees, it may be so with other things, is the line of thought.

1: "corte de digestión" may happen when you eat something, wait long enough for digestion to begin and then jump into a cold pool. Chills, cramps, throwing up and generally needing rescue. It's not a medical term, as a matter of fact docs get angry when they hear people use it, but hey... it does happen, duh! Who cares whether the technical term is "hyposomethingorother"!
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