English Literal: Eat according to the times, live according to the time period.
English Equivalent: Other times, other manners.
During a visual arts course in high school I was introduced to art history, the academic study of the history and development of visual arts dating from prehistoric times to the present day. Each distinguished period highlighted a certain dominant style and the following era was marked by some change in style. This example can explain our proverb “Ăn theo thuở, ở theo thời,” emphasizing the importance of adaptability. Like the different art stages and the styles that arose, the proverb explains that whether you are eating or living, you should operate in a manner that is consistent with the way of life of that time period, location and occasion. Only when you adjust yourself to the situation will you be able to remain relevant.
Another famous Western saying in relation to this proverb is the phrase “survival of the fittest,” often used to describe Darwin’s evolution theory and the natural selection process among different species. Darwin’s theory, published in his book On the Origin of Species in 1859, established with evidence that species less suited to the environment have a lower chance of survival, while species more suited to the environment have a higher chance of survival and are more likely to reproduce and pass their heritable traits to their offspring and future generations.
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