Saturday, July 24, 2010

cross-cultural superstitions

I love Chinese superstitions. Actually I love everyone's superstitions, but my own most of all. When I was a kid I was told a lot of them, and I was never sure what to believe and what not to believe. We had a rule that we weren't supposed to talk about them outside the house, because we couldn't expect the not-Chinese people to understand. Which I think is not always true, because there are many superstitions which seem to cross boundaries.

Via haohao report, I have come across this list of 31 Ridiculous Chinese Superstitions, of which I am familiar with ALL OF THEM. Oh, wait, all but one. But I leave you to guess which ones I actually believe now, it should be obvious if you know me, I think.

Tell me your superstitions, or your cultural superstitions! It's intriguing to see what superstitions cross cultural boundaries. I'd like to know why - if it echoes to something common, or if it's because of trading or colonial relationships centuries ago, or what. Like black, for example. That's pretty standard. Owls or crows indicating a death, that feels familiar for more than just Chinese stuff. I admit, particularly when my mum was pressuring me to eat all my rice, I used to wonder if the finish your rice / bad luck to play with your chopsticks stuff was just a way of imposing obedience or politeness at the dinner table.

Number 17 (Never comb your hair in front of the mirror after midnight because you might see something with a long hair from the reflection. That I mean not human.) is one of my favourites, not because I believe it but because it's creepy. You know some of the horrible Chinese creatures that could be staring out at you in that situation? CREEP TOWN.

1 comment:

  1. ooh! i will have to think about this. i think my superstitions are more likely to be individual ones picked up along the way rather than ones i got from my families (dutch or anglo). like, i tend to avoid using the bottom step? idk what this is about - something about looking after the things at the bottom of the food chain/pecking order? i also have the habit of thanking things - particularly trees and bushes when i pick their fruit or flowers. oh, and i like to say hello to my house when i come home, which is something i got from oma, but i don't think it's a dutch thing.