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In traditional Japanese calendar, December is called Shiwasu, which means, according to the kanji ideograph, teachers run – presumably because this is the last month of the year, the busiest time, when people, including teachers who are usually calm and in control, want to run in order to resolve yearly business and life matters. But, according to another popular theory, shi, which means “teacher,” is in fact a priest, who used to read sutras in individual houses at the end of the year as well as in the middle of the year. And another theory explains that shiwasu simply means the end of the year and the kanji ideograph, which says “teachers run”, was arbitrarily attached to the existing Japanese word.

This example of the ambiguous etymology of a simple word shows us that perhaps there is no singular meaning for any cultural phenomenon since people’s cultural habits and customs change over time.

Nevertheless, personally this month is a very busy month for me according to my calendar: it’s packed with appointments.

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