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.
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 :rolleyes: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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…
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?
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…
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.
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.
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.)
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.