Why Asians Are Superstitious

Superstitions. To believe or not to believe them?

I grew up in a traditional-minded Chinese Malaysian household and am no stranger to Asian superstitions. My mum is a big believer in them, believing there are lucky Chinese numbers and that keeping pet turtles slows down fortunes, for instance. I always wonder why.

Sun and shadows. Are we wasting time believing in superstitions? | Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts.

Sun and shadows. Are we wasting time believing in superstitions? | Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts.

As Asians, many of us are respectful. We believe in the spiritual, believe fate controls our destiny: anger ghosts or spirits floating around and they may curse a dose of bad luck upon us. My parents pray at temples for luck at the start of every Chinese New Year. My relatives have small shrines in their homes, and and never fail to put an even number of mandarins – usually lucky eight mandarins – at the front as offerings to the gods.

We find comfort in tradition, the tried and tested. Family is important to us; we hold on to beliefs passed down from generation to generation. Whenever one of my eyes swelled up red as a kid living in Malaysia, my mum made me poke it with a grain of rice and then throw that grain over my shoulder. My eye went back to normal right after that. Always. It worked for my grandma too. No joke.

Chances are Asians believe in superstitions because it’s odd not to do so: others think that way, we’re chided to listen to our elders and perhaps we should. One hot and humid afternoon during high school in Singapore, three of my classmates opened an umbrella in class and sat under it for kicks. It was an amusing sight and my class laughed. For many Asians, opening an umbrella indoors means inviting ghosts into the room, as China Elevator Stories has shared.

Our teacher, who was much older than us, started panicking, telling us bad luck will befall us. We kept laughing for five minutes as she nagged…and the power went out. No lights. The ceiling fans stopped spinning. Silence. Someone closed the umbrella. The classes next door went on as normal, nothing unusual happening over there. Maybe we did attract an angry spirit into our class. We never opened an umbrella in class again, and the power never went out another time.

But then again, I’ve opened an umbrella countless times in my Melbourne apartment and nothing out of the ordinary has happened.

Living in Melbourne for eight years, maybe I’ve lost touch with my stereotypical Asian side. Asian superstitions sound odd and silly to me, sillier than Western superstition. Walking under ladders, crossing a black cat, coming across the number 13 – supposed signs of bad luck. Practically everyone in this mainly Anglo city has heard of them. But making sure our spoon faces upwards on the dining table and shaving our face clean of a beard to avoid misfortune? Not so.

A lot of us believe in a higher power, no matter our race. A lot of us go to church to give thanks and ask for forgiveness in western cultures – alongside our love for an individual choice, a choice that makes us think we can control our fate instead of fate controlling us. Maybe that’s why some westerners pooh-pooh superstition.

It just so happens this is the 88th post I’ve written for this blog (not counting reblogs). I chuckled when I realised this. Didn’t plan it at all. Do I feel spooked? Lucky? Lucky on the writing front? Who thinks good luck will really come their way? We only hope so.

We don’t usually believe in superstitions because we want good luck.

We believe in superstitions because we’re afraid. You never know what may happen if you don’t.

Better to be safe than sorry.

Sometimes.

Do you believe in superstitions? What’s the craziest one you’ve heard?

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83 thoughts on “Why Asians Are Superstitious

  1. Tell me about it! I am getting married soon and gosh, my husband’s family are a stickler for tradition and a big believer in Malaysian Chinese superstitions… eg. auspicious dates needs to be chosen on the back of our dates of birth for the marriage date, lest bad luck befalls on the family; the need to wear traditional costumes, etc. etc. etc the list goes on and on and it certainly adds more stress to wedding planning! The craziest superstition I’ve ever heard on the back of this falls on a tradition where the groom’s family needs to deliver a whole roasted suckling pig to the bride’s family the day after the wedding (….believe it or not, as a symbol of the bride’s chastity! Really, a pig???). The bride’s family is then required to return the belly of the roast pork to the groom’s side. Superstition comes to play when the bride’s family fails to return to the belly in time (eg. due to geographical distances) and if pork goes bad (thanks to the hot and humid weather), which is a sure sign of a doomed marriage….

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    • Congratulations on your upcoming marriage. It must be an occasion for you, an occasion I hope that brings you more joy than stress. It IS supposed to be a one big celebratory occasion. You sound like you know all the wedding superstitions down pat. I have heard of the pig superstition and til this day it’s still common practice in Malaysia, where it’s hard to get around in car due to the traffic jams day and night. And this roast pig has to always be huge, like the size of a human being. The bigger the better, as in most cases in Chinese culture 🙂

      Best of luck with wedding planning. Don’t stress too much. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, I really appreciate it!

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  2. Not walking under ladders just makes sense. I think it comes from people having tools dropped on their heads. Opening umbrellas was always a big no no growing up in my household in Texas but no one ever said why.

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    • You’re so right. You don’t want to be walking under ladders and it suddenly falls down on you, along with everything on top of it. As for opening umbrellas indoors? Maybe people do associate it with bad luck, or maybe are just concerned that by doing so they could hit someone in your family right next to you. There’s only so much space indoors and in one’s house.

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  3. i agree, we Asians have a big bowl of superstitious beliefs.Maybe it really is rooted in our own culture, its amazing though how these superstitions survived from the time it was first told. Sometimes there are beliefs that is similar or against each other. There was an Indie movie here in the Philippines titled: Ded na si Lolo (grandpa is dead) and it covers almost all the Filipino superstitious belief during a wake for the dead.

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    • “big bowl of superstitious beliefs”. I like how you say it. Fascinating how they have survived throughout generations. A lot of western superstition has become universal, like the crossing a black cat and walking under ladders ones. Many Asians I know – Asians living in Asia and in Melbourne – are familiar with them. It really is an interesting phenomenon, perhaps due to the westernisation of many parts of the world over the last century.

      That sounds like an interesting Philippines movie. Entirely dedicated to superstition. If I ever watch – brave enough – I’ll let you know.

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  4. I dont believe in it, though my mum is like yours a firm believer! I think one thing I find a bit too much is when mum cooks rice and the rice turns out a bit watery then she will say, someone close is going to die. Whaatt? how the heck you know only by seeing the watery rice? I think you just put way too much water in the pan? Yikes.

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    • Interesting you bring up the watery rice superstition. Now that you mention it, I notice my mum always frowning whenever the rice turns out watery in the cooker or pot over the stove when it’s done. If the rice turns out watery, just put it in the microwave for a while and it should turn out okay. Just be careful not to mash the wet rice too much around beforehand, though. You’ll end up with one big rice ball to eat, sort of like a rice dumpling.

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    • Umbrella story. Don’t think it was staged. When the lights went out, the teacher looked equally surprised as the rest of my class. She and one of my classmates played with the powerboards to try to jig the electricity back up…power came back after a long twenty minutes. Most likely there was something supernatural going on when the umbrella was opened: my high school was rickety and haunted. I’m sure there are more entertaining superstition stories out there.

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  5. this was really interested Mabel, I am fascinated by superstitions and myths. A mother of one of my old housemates was a psychic medium and she would freak out if anyone put shoes on the table and always saluted magpies. She also said that my car was badluck because it was green! I would love to research into these further to find out the reasons behind these superstitions. But yes, I hate opening my umbrella inside but that is probably mainly because I can’t fit it through th edoorway otherwise 😛

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    • Thanks, Jody. Never heard of the putting shoes on the table one, but have heard of the green car one. Driving a green car supposedly means you’re prone towards getting into accidents. However, scientific studies have shown that since there are generally less green cars on the road, that’s why accidents happen more to green cars (something like that). I hope you and your car have been getting alone fine 🙂 I’ve always been nervy around fortune tellers and psychic mediums. I feel like they’re always looking closely at me and I don’t like that.

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      • Haha maybe they know something about you that you have yet to find out 😛 as a matter of fact, I have had an accident in my green car haha but have sold it on now and saving for a new one. I heard that green cars were bad luck because it’s the colour of the fairies!

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        • Car accident, oh dear. Thankfully you are okay 🙂 Come to think of it, I never noticed that: fairies are green in colour a lot of the time – magical creatures that want to blend into the woods. Haven’t heard of that green car superstition. Maybe it’s a reason why you don’t see too many green cars on the roads. Happy driving!

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  6. Ah those superstitions again. When my MIL was here we were confronted nearly everyday with some kind of superstitions which I tried to ignore the best way possible.
    Even though we have in Germany also many superstitions such as the ones you mentioned, Friday the 13th, black cats etc, however I never really cared about them and I believe my life was not really affected at all by it.
    Sure, some superstitions is fine but it gets annoying when people who believe in such things try to convince others about it or how to do things (as my MIL is doing…)

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    • When your MIL is around, seems like superstition will follow you everywhere, every time of the day. But you seem sure of yourself and your beliefs, good on you. Sounds like you make a prime example of how superstitions aren’t true all the time.

      Exactly. When people try to drag you into believing or doing the superstition, that annoys me too. Sort of like they forget we have a mind of our own, to put it a bit crudely. Don’t mean to be rude, but we’re all lawfully entitled to our own perspectives. And they always sound angry when we don’t comply.

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  7. Thanks for linking to my post. I’ve grown up in an extremely non-superstitious household, but then there was religion, which to me is another way of explaining things that cannot be explained (like you said very well in the article). Being married to a Chinese guy, I’m trying to find a balance, respecting that there are things that are just seen differently in Chinese culture than in my own. You could say these superstitions are just outright wrong, but I think in most cases there are reasons why these superstitions exist. I can decide not to believe in them, but I can still accept them at the same time.

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    • I think you said it better: a way of “explaining things that cannot be explained”. Believing and accepting are two different things. If we can’t bring ourselves to believe someone’s stance on superstition or religious choices, the least we can do is accept and respect their decision. Most likely then they’ll be more inclined to accept what we believe in. Believing in superstition could be a generational thing too. Younger people these days are lucky to get an education and learn to see the world in more rational ways.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on superstition on your blog. It inspired me to write this post, and a topic that I’ve always wanted to touch on but never found the right time to. Until now 🙂

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  8. I’m not superstitious at all, but I do remember getting into terrible trouble when I was a kid, for opening my umbrella before i got out of the door. I respect other people’s beliefs and cultures. We’re all different, and that’s what makes the world so interesting. 🙂

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    • Yes, we are all different and that’s why it’s interesting meeting new people. No two people of the same background have the same stories to share. Not even the same superstitious beliefs. The umbrella superstition seems to be a very popular one, everyone seems to know it. According to superstition, opening an umbrella indoors attracts ghosts, maybe evil spirits. Hope nothing bad happened to you after all the occasions you opened your umbrella indoors, apart from the scoldings 🙂

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  9. I grew up in Chile and I can tell you that South Americans can be equally as superstitious as Asia… I remember growing up taunting friends by breaking mirrors (this is the worst thing you can do, it brings 7 years of bad luck, even worse than a black cat), needless to say, I had quite a few cuts after I was told to pick up the shards lol.
    But I do wonder if Asian superstition is predominantly in the higher social class or lower, in SA it tends to be the lower class.

    Btw, I love Chinese history and culture, especially your formal attire with the buttons coming across the chest, I just find that sexy in Asian women hahaha.

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    • Thanks, Dave. That is interesting to hear, that SA are superstitious too. Breaking the mirrors is another common one, heard that lot as a kid. Very bold of you to taunt your friends like that. Maybe that superstition was true…after all, you did get cut yourself a few times!

      I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Asian superstition is equally predominant in both high and low social classes. Most of the time someone of a higher social class have good education and so might be open to disagreeing with stereotypes. However, many, many Asians value tradition…so maybe chances all Asians are likely to believe in superstition. It’s an interesting question you posed there, one that I will think more of. Thanks for stopping by, Dave.

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  10. As an Indian I can totally identify with this post. So much of superstition, I find, seeps in cultural norms too. Living in Singapore has given me a better look at Chinese culture and the similarities between Indian and Chinese culture are just astounding. That said, there are lots of such little things that I don’t really believe in, but I will still do it. To me it doesn’t make me weak minded or ignorant. It’s just a part of my culture and thus a part of my identity.

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    • “It’s just a part of my culture and thus a part of my identity”. Very bold of you to admit that, I like your confidence. Sometimes we follow superstition because it’s a part of who we are and the way we live our lives. In a way, superstition can be thought of as little rituals, such as along the lines of cooking foods a certain way or our routine of getting dressed before going out of the house.

      Living in Singapore myself for about seven years, I did notice similarities between the Indians and the Chinese there too. Both races are very much family-oriented, love bright colours to celebrate occasions and are big on celebrating with lots of food. Definitely similar beliefs there.

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  11. Hello Mabel,

    Very interesting topic been discussed here and in detail 🙂

    I could relate to most of the points mentioned here about superstitions and the reasons behind it.

    Being from India, everyday I could hear about a number of different superstitions, and sometimes gets really annoyed of them too 🙂

    I think, these are all part and parcel of a very old civilization and history…

    Like it or not, let them be, as they are interesting, unless forced to follow them, right?

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    • Thanks, Sreejith, for reading and stopping by. Always nice to hear from someone from India. Different perspective 🙂

      I’ve read about India being a very old nation and colonised under Europrean powers. Not too surprised it has its own set of superstitions. But as you’ve implied, there are stories behind each one, as ridiculous some of they may be. In Malaysia and Singapore, a lot of people there get jumpy talking about superstition, even more so when you don’t follow them – brings out their angry side which can be scary.

      Yes, superstition is interesting depending on our perspective. Forced to follow them? I think fear forces many of us to do so.

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  12. Superstitions are a funny thing; if you believe in it, you believe that it exists. If you don’t believe in it, it doesn’t exist. All cultures have their own superstitious beliefs, and as much as the West see themselves as modern, they still kick up a big fuss about Friday 13 and ‘666’…or even to some extent 3:00am being the cursed time because it’s the Witching Hour, a mockery of the Holy Trinity.

    Some people are superstitious not because of cultural beliefs, but more like a behaviour thing. For example tennis player Rafael Nadal has this things with placing bottles on court. NBA basketball player Kevin Garnett has to smack his head three times on a padded pole, another basketball player Ray Allen has to read a book and eat rice and chicken before a match. Maybe these could be OCD issues or something.

    And some rich people are superstitious because they think by following some ritual, it will give them comfort to know their money will be safe.

    As for me, I don’t believe in superstitions, because I am “百无禁忌” 🙂

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    • Oh, yes. Western superstitious numbers. A lot of people also seem a bit uneasy whenever they see 11:11 on the clocks, and think that if they make a wish at this moment bad luck will come their way. Some of these numbers are associated with the bible or bible verses and other religious texts, maybe that’s why some tiptoe around these said numbers.

      The little rituals like you’ve described sound like superstition too. You’re right. It could be due to OCD issues. Or perhaps sometimes sports players have become so used to practising these rituals that it becomes comforting to them – just they’re way of going about practising and showcasing their sport. It’s sort of like how some of us like to get out of bed on a certain side each morning, or putting on pants before shirt when we’re dressing.

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      • I think that that is normal, every player has their favorite shirt, or a necklace they wear, or they touch the field and cross their heart, or they look up to God when they score… It is just their way of playing… I have to admit that here, even numbers are considered extremely lucky! If you check out your clock at 12:12 or any other it is a sign of luck and you make a wish… 😀

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        • Some superstition seem universal, in some sense. Like the ones you mentioned about sport. Almost every sport player will do some routine prior to a game for good luck. Lol, I have heard of people saying make a wish when you see certain numbers pop up. I’ve tried making a wish when I see 11:11 but my wish never comes true. Maybe I should try 12:12. If it ever works for you, tell me, Iva 😀

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  13. I can totally relate to your post. Another facet that is interesting about us Asians. Filipinos for instance very ironic because while Philippines is touted as the largest Catholic country in Asia, we are also among the most superstitious.

    I have no problems with superstitions. I for one, used to live with my maternal grandmother who was born in 1916, and part of adjusting to living with her is acknowledging the beliefs which were also passed on to them by their parents. I didn’t necessarily believed all of them, but I learned to deal with them. For example, I saw there’s nothing wrong when my grandma told me not to sweep the floor at night, to always say “excuse me” when you pass by a forest, or to immediately change my clothes when I came back from the house of someone who died.

    The key I think to dealing with superstitions is to not let them run your life. I know some people who have lost their shot at something just because of a superstition. When you reached that kind of point, you need to seriously stop at evaluate whether superstitions have already stopped you from actually living your life.

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    • Didn’t know Filipinos are one of the most superstitious races around. Probably as superstitious as us Chinese. I love how you say you learned how to deal and accept with superstition. For some cultures and identities, superstitions are every part of them. They are just a way of life and hold meaning to some of us. To be honest, I don’t usually come across people outright laughing at superstition. At most, people will just look confused – if they haven’t heard of that superstition before and don’t believe in these things.

      That is a very good point you bring up, Melissa. I haven’t heard of someone losing out just because of believing in superstition. That is a very scary thing, and we should try to think rationally and see what’s in front of us – the truth, perhaps – before making decisions.

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  14. I think everyone is a little superstitious. I know I am. Both my parents are very superstitious *cue Stevie Wonder* but both for different reasons. My father feared his death and my mother wanted to turn our financial luck around 😉

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    • Haha, I was waiting for someone to cue Stevie Wonder. Love that song 😉 I think you’re right. We’re all a little superstitious. I always make it a point to get roll out of bed each morning. I usually don’t have a good day if I sit up and then get out of bed – on these days, which are few, I remember feeling tired an hour after I’ve woken up. You can call me strange.

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    • Magical thinker 😀 Believing in the tooth fairy, Santa Clause, fairies in the backyard, witches come out during Halloween. Oh yes, I bet we were all magical thinkers when we were kids! You’re a smart one, BB.

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    • I completely forgot about the number 7 being lucky in Western cultures. So…is the number 7 or 8 the lucky number? It really is anyone’s guess and a matter of luck and chance, in my opinion. Maybe one of us should buy the lottery with only one of these numbers amongst a bunch of others, and see who wins 😉

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  15. I was smiling when I hit that part that talks about opening umbrella inside your classroom, but a bit terrified with what happened next. Whatta? I didn’t see that coming.

    I couldn’t actually think of a country with the most number of superstitions but the Philippines. Needless to say I also grew up adhering to countless superstitious beliefs that are, for lack of a better term, supported by not only the elders at home but teachers and oh…almost all of those with decent professions respectively. Actually, there are two kinds of superstitious belief in our culture: superstitious beliefs on good luck and bad luck. The funny thing is, we seem to cultivate the latter more than the former. Hence, we entertain the one for bad luck more and that explains why I can only think of the same when I want to recall one. Make that two or three. 🙂

    Among the countless superstitious beliefs I have in mind, there are three that remained intact with me. I hate to admit but that statement also means, I succumb to be on the safe side so to speak. The first is never ever throw hot water on the ground. If you do, you will become sick. The second, if a black butterfly lingers around a person, it means that one of his relatives has just.The last, if a cat washes himself, a storm is coming.

    Some of those faded when I got to the metropolis to pursue my undergraduate studies. The urban culture helped a lot in turning those beliefs (e.g., 1.) One should not pay or give money through the window because it will make him poor. 2.) Debts should not be paid at night. It brings bad luck. 3.) Playing at night brings bad luck.) into another page of a history book.

    At present, I am working in the Middle East. I must say being here also helps me forget some of those.

    🙂

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    • The power actually went out in my classroom for around 15-20 minutes. It was really freaky, and no one had an explanation why the power tripped. Til this day I remember the story like it happened yesterday.

      Very good point there on how we split up superstition into bad and good luck, and yes, we tend to hear about the bad luck ones more. And I’m with you there – seems the only good Chinese superstition I can think of right now is the lucky number ‘8’, and the auspicious colour red. When something goes wrong or bad happens to someone else, I think a lot of us are thankful it didn’t happen to us. We have some kind of fascination with this, so maybe that’s why the bad-luck superstition comes to mind more often.

      Those are interesting superstitions that you’re familiar with, especially the second one about the butterfly. Quite similarly, in Chinese culture, if there’s a big black moth around, then someone has just passed on. In the Middle East, maybe you’re learning a few new ones.

      Thanks for the very nice words, Sony, and the very nice comment too. It put a smile on my face and encourages me to write and share more, thank you 🙂

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  16. I don’t believe any of these, maybe because I wasn’t grown up in a traditional family, both my parents didn’t believe superstitions. I noticed many Chinese in Los Angeles used 8 for their house # and car tag # (pay extra, of course). My daughter used to ask us when she heard those superstitions from her Asian friends 🙂 I’d like to think that these are more like rules than beliefs that people want to be bound by the traditional rules/beliefs, then it became part of the culture. Very interesting topic. 🙂

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    • It is an intersting topic. “More like rules than beliefs”. I like that, as I’ve reckoned sometimes superstition might be simply rituals that we choose to follow as they make us feel more comfortable. Haha, it seems that all around the world Chinese will pay extra for an auspicious car tag number 🙂 Having spent almost a decade in Melbourne, I’ve become more and more distant from these beliefs and learnt to see things rationally. But then again, I can’t see how I’ll ever forget them – it’s part of my culture – and find it entertaining chatting about this topic.

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  17. I like your suggestion that some of us are superstitious because we’re a little bit OCD (or maybe, sometimes more than a little?) — I have my own private superstitions about numbers, and unlike what you described, I think odd numbers are the good ones. My excuse is that at some point I noticed that more good things happened to me in odd numbered years. Of course that’s not always true – just my superstition. And, I never open my umbrella in the house, even think twice about dryng it out in the garage on on the porch. Thanks for a good topic — Sandy

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    • Now that you mention it, I think odd numbers seem to be the good-luck ones in western culture. For instance, the number 7 is very popular and considered lucky. Perhaps we’re all a little bit OCD. After all, I’m sure we all have our own superstitions, beliefs or rituals that we stick too, like you and your odd numbers and not opening your brolly indoors. For me, I believe I have to roll out of bed as opposed to hopping out or else my day won’t go too well. Now, that sounds weird but, oh well 🙂 Thanks for the encouraging words and for stopping by, Sandy. Hope all is well with you and your house.

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  18. Those superstitions drove me nuts. In the Philippines, burial could not be done on a Monday; a single lady should not sing in front of a stove / while cooking (of course, in those olden days, the stove was usually outside of the house because we used open wood fire; among others. I realized that those are the ways that folks encouraged the desired behavior – sometimes, it was to teach people to be polite and considerate, not only towards the living, but also towards the dead. It was also a way to teach acknowledgment of a higher power.

    When I got older, I thought that the reason single women should never ever sing in front of the stove was so that nobody, especially not a prospective suitor, could hear them sing off-key and thereby discourage a possible love match. 😀

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    • Never heard of that burial superstition before, nor the ladies singing while cooking one. You make a very good point there in that superstition encourages us to be polite and considerate, in a sense be mindful of others’ beliefs and cultures. Because, every superstition has some story behind it and holds some soft of significance to a certain culture. And of course, to the powers above watching over us.

      I would think that if a single woman sang while cooking outside, off-key or not, she will attract a lot of people. Singing in public is always one big show, whether you can sing or not 😀

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  19. I consider myself to be logical and rational most of the time, but yes, I too have some superstitious beliefs – e.g. I avoid the number 4 or walking under a ladder; I touch wood (seven times for some reason) whenever someone says something inauspicious! Better safe than be sorry perhaps?!

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    • I think most of us are the rational kind as we don’t experience too many eery supernatural encounters. Touch wood. I knew someone was going to bring that up eventually. I notice Asians tend to say “touch wood” and westerners “knock on wood”, but we all know both phrases mean the same thing. Touch wood seven times…had to Google that one. I usually hear people do it once or twice in row. Seven? That’s something new and would attract a bit of attention.

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  20. Ha, ha…I love that this is your 88th post, perfect timing 🙂 I love superstitions and believe in them in part for fun, but also in knowing that for such things, I have little control, so better to be safe than sorry.

    Similar to what you mention above, I suppose: “we find comfort in tradition, the tried and tested.” There can actually be a little stress-relieving if you have put in the effort and have followed your superstitious thoughts/patterns, then you can totally relax and let nature/superstition take its course 🙂

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    • Hahaha. Hahaha. You’re spot on. 88th post, it’s a bit freaky 🙂 I don’t like being forced to follow superstition but I love hearing about superstitions, and love when people associate their experiences with superstitious events. You make a very good point there about stress-relieving and following superstition. Never thought about that but it makes sense. I guess if we like being adventurous and don’t give two cents about tradition, then we’re likely to not believe in superstition…then again, a lot of us believe in a higher power. Ain’t that superstition in some sense? 🙂

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      • I will always choose something with the number 8 or 7 given a choice, it is almost a habit now. And as strange as it sounds, it is great to have those little happy thoughts when it comes to being superstitious…and it is a bit of faith, just like those who believe in a higher power. It is a very good thing 🙂

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        • 7 or 8…they are actually my favourite numbers (and 2 as well). Our own beliefs are what makes us comfortable, who cares what others think. The more I think about religion and praying, the more I reckon a lot of us believe in a higher power and so are superstitious. Yes, I do think it’s a good thing too. In a way, superstition keeps us grounded – we are who we are 🙂

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          • I think so too, so many people in the west frown on the concept of superstition without really understanding that most humans all are quite superstitious 🙂 Cheers!

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  21. “We believe in superstitions because we’re afraid. You never know what may happen if you don’t.”

    I think you hit the proverbial nail on the head, Mabel. I think many people follow superstitions because they are so afraid of bad things happening to them. But the reality is that being superstitious for this very reason only contributes to the fear; it doesn’t truly dispel the fear. You have to keep doing x, y, or z in order to be “safe.”

    Love your blog, by the way. Keep up the great work!

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    • Fear. That’s a big part of life. All of us, no matter what race we are, feel fear because of uncertainty. It also just so happens life is unpredictable and full of uncertainties. Love your analogy there about fear and superstitions. We’re comfortable with what we’ve always been doing, and comfortable with routine. On a deeper level, superstition offers offers stability (financially and socially), and I reckon this is what older generation Asians seek to maintain or lust after.

      Sorry that you had to post your comment twice, Chris. My hungry spam folder loves eating comments but fret not, I check on it most days. Thanks for your nice words. You have an interesting blog, I hope to stop by sometime 🙂

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      • I think you’re right. Stability is a huge motivator for believing in anything/anyone. Plus, tradition is always the safest route. If something has been done a certain way for a long time, then it makes sense to continue with it. Even if it’s hurting you, at least it’s something you know. In a weird way, there’s a feeling of safety and security in it.

        No problem about the comment-eating spam folder. Hehe. I thought maybe I had forgotten to submit the comment, or maybe I had lost internet connection temporarily. Thanks for checking, and for the encouraging words!

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        • Tradition and routine does usually give us that sense of comfort. If we stick by tradition, chances are those close to us (like our traditional families) won’t give us too much of a hard time, and even encourage us to go down that route. Even if it hurts us, as you say. In this modern and developed world, I guess superstition forces us to question our beliefs – how much of the past should we believe, and when do we break free from old habits.

          As mentioned, looking forward to seeing posts from you. Glad we’ve connected!

          Like

  22. Walking beneath a ladder… I dislike it, but will do it 😀
    Also, when I see a black cat crossing the road I am hoping she turns around haha… I have to tell you that I’ve heard about the umbrella thing for the first time…
    I used to spend time in my garden searching for four leaf clover 🙂 I still find the horse shoe and clover a sign of luck. Also, if a bird poops on you or if you step into poo – that’s “good” 😀

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    • You got to be kidding me, haven’t heard the umbrella superstition before >:D At least now you know. Ah, the lucky four leaf clover. I’ve heard of that but I’ve never seen a four leaf clover in my life. If I do, then I think I should make a wish!

      Bird poop falling on you is disgusting! Hope it’s happened to you before…hehe. I wish all the luck for you, Iva. You deserve it for being so upbeat, thoughtful and happy in your comments 🙂

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      • Thank you, it did poop on me 😀 And I did found the four leaf clover once…
        I didn’t know I sound upbeat haha that’s good to know… Since I’m having a really hard time this whole week, it’s comforting to know that I sound happy XD
        Thank you for your wishes, as we will say her, from your mouth to God’s ears 🙂 That’s an expression…

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          • Hahaha this is so funny you say that! My family and bf always say that I have so much luck! I go somewhere, I found discounts, I don’t go someplace it’s raining. I go buy something and don’t have the money, return the next day, it’s 70% off – true story! And like that all the time 😀 That is behind my idea of Catch of the month category 😀
            My mum says that if I need something that will be in store, last number and on sale XD
            Today I found awesome deal on t-shirts and grab two for my bf and then I went to grocery store with my mum. We got home and she says: “I will take you everywhere with me.” and hands me the receipt, on it there is a discount for some products when we go next time…
            So lucky and so doubtful, so much irony 😀

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  23. Pingback: Why Asians Like To Queue | Mabel Kwong

  24. Speak for yourself. I’m Asian and I hate superstition. I despise it so badly.

    At best, it is an utter complete waste of time. Poking your eye with a grain of rice? Deep in your heart, do you really believe that drivel? If you have an eye infection, go see the doctor.

    At worst, it reveals the backwardness of the societal development of many Asian countries. Countries with populations that believe in superstition usually means that the same population lack critical thinking skills and the ability to improve their own lot beyond doing some completely useless act.

    My relatives are huge on crazy Chinese superstition like: shaking your legs means shaking off your wealth, cutting off pockets of deceased family member so that wealth does not stay with said family member when they go to the next world, etc. I always counter that by telling that if that’s true, why are western countries so rich when their people don’t do such things and China is so poor? The way to progress is rationalism, not crazy superstition.

    After all, isn’t Ebola made worse by superstition? Many of the inflicted believe that Ebola is a curse rather than a disease caused by a virus and sought the help of witch doctors instead of healthcare workers.

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    • Most of the time superstition doesn’t sit too well with me. Not too sure how to put it into words, but I suppose I don’t want to go about my life thinking what I can do and what I can’t do based on generalised opinion. This is scientific thinking, but then again, as you mentioned, people can be prosperous financially and socially even when they don’t stick to superstition.

      Sounds like your relatives are very keen on superstition. I hope they don’t harass you too much about it. After all, we all are brought up differently, have our own beliefs and it’s ultimately our choice to believe in superstition or not. The least we can do really is respect their perspectives and lifestyles and go along with ours.

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