Culture & History, Korean, Vocabulary
Comments 2

꽃샘추위

Where I live, we don’t have four seasons.  In the summer, it gets very hot and stays warm until the end of November.  Then, out of the blue, in the middle of December we get sleet and ice.  It stays cold (though not as cold as New England) through February and then BAM one day in the middle of March it gets up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 deg. Celsius).  Then it proceeds to get hotter and hotter through the summer.  While I was walking around in short sleeves last week, I heard (through Twitter) that it was raining and snowing in Korea!  I was like, What?!  Snow in March?! and Jeannie said it was 꽃샘추위.  I wasn’t entirely sure what that was so I looked it up and found that it’s roughly translated as “spring frost.”  Well, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with that explanation so I found an article about on (the Korean) Wikipedia:

꽃샘추위는 초봄에 날씨가 풀린 뒤 다시 찾아오는 일시적인 추위를 가리키는 고유어이다. 꽃이 피는 것을 시샘하는 듯이 춥다고 해서 이 이름이 붙었다. 꽃샘추위가 오면 갑자기 쌀쌀해진 날씨에 사람들은 옷을 두껍게 입고 다닌다. 꽃샘추위는 시베리아 고기압에 의한 것이다. 즉 겨울의 한기는 시베리아에서 유입되며 겨울에 시베리아 고기압의 영향을 받는 곳(중국이나 일본)에서도 꽃샘추위 비슷한 늦한기가 있다. 일본에도 ‘하나비에(はなびえ)’라는 유사한 뜻의 단어가 있다.

꽃샘추위 (kkot saem chuwi) is a word native to Korea that refers to the brief spell of cold weather that comes around in early spring after it gets warm.  The name stuck because it was said that the cold is jealous of the flowers blooming (Translation note:   꽃 = flower; 샘 = jealousy; 추위 = cold). During 꽃샘추위, the weather gets suddenly chilly and people go out wearing bulky clothes.  꽃샘추위 is due to the high atmospheric pressure from Siberia.  That is to say, while the chill of winter comes in from Siberia, when it is winter in Siberia, the places affected by the high atmospheric pressure (China and Japan) also experience a later chill similar to 꽃샘추위.  In Japan, “hanabie” is a word of similar meaning.

Source:  Wikipedia

I am fairly certain we don’t have anything like the Korean “spring frost” over here (at least not due to atmospheric pressure from Siberia!) but this entire week is COLD. Well, relatively at least.  It was in the 70s and 80s last week and this week it’s 20 degrees colder, rainy, and windy.  Then again, I’m not surprised.  The weather has been really schizophrenic this year – once in February it was 70 degrees for a week and then immediately dropped 30 degrees the week after!  Argh!

I supposed I should get used to the cold, though.  Chances are I will be in a much colder place come this fall, wherever graduate school might take me.

2 Comments

  1. lyrynne says

    꽃샘추위~ㅠㅠ my friend told me that it has a story that’s why there’s 샘 = 질투하다 in the word. Winter is jealous of Spring since flowers bloom in her season and she’s far more beautiful than Winter so the first week until the second week of Spring the last bits the of icy cold season Winter sends out her anger by making it even colder by snowing or giving off strong icy winds. ㅋㅋㅋ Cute right? Even seasons have feelings lol.

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