I love all the superstitions the Chinese have, I find them fascinating, and am even more fascinated by how much they are followed. Most of these superstitions have been passed down through the generations, and while many do blindly believe and follow, most here do not behave like nervous wrecks, jumping at every sound and shadow, as I think I would do if I believed in all of these. I would never relax, seriously!
I have been collecting the taboos, do’s and don’ts, and superstitions that I have heard about since moving here, and thought I would share them here.
1. Do not shake your legs when sitting, because you are shaking your luck away.
2. If you get wet from rain when the sun is shining, you will be afflicted with bad headaches.
3. Do not point at the moon, or your ear will have a cut on it the next morning or it will make your earlobes fall off.
4. If you find tears flowing from a dogs eye, touch the teardrops with your finger then touch your own eyes, thereby “transferring” the liquid, and then you will be able to see ghosts! I never saw tears from a dogs eye, but I have seen dogs with “eye goobers” .. is that what they mean? Yikes
5. For the boys… do not pee on any red ants, as it will cause pain to your “dicky bird” (their word, not mine! )
6. Don’t go to the beach during the Seventh Month of the Chinese lunar calendar, which is believed to be the “hungry ghost month”, when they believe the gates of hell are opened for spirits to roam the Earth.
7. When you are pregnant, don’t be cruel to animals, for whatever it is you inflict on the animal, it shall be inflicted on your unborn child.
8. The Chinese believe that the number 8 is a lucky number because the pronunciation of the number ‘eight’ and the pronunciation of the word for ‘prosperity’ in Chinese are similar. Hence, the number 8 has high value. So if a house number or the registration number of a car has the 8 as a number, people think it is a lucky sign.
— A few months ago I went to a local butcher shop to buy sausages for dinner … I wanted 7 of them, figuring Shane and Cale would each have two. The butcher insisted on my buying 8, saying “must make 8, must”.
9. In another popular Chinese superstition, the number 4 is considered as unlucky, because the pronunciation is similar to the word for “death”. Hence this number is unacceptable for vehicles and houses, nor can you give presents in quantities of four.
10. Do not sweep the floor during the Chinese New Year celebration, because if you do, you will sweep away all the good fortune. Same with cutting your hair, cannot cut your hair during the CNY celebration, because you are cutting off all your good luck and throwing it away.
11. Never offer pears when visiting sick people in a hospital, as this is a symbol that the patient will die. It is also bad luck to send red flowers, especially red roses, as this signifies blood. Many other Asian cultures also believe that sending red roses will cause death to occur. Best colours for hospitals are white and yellow.
12. Do not place a mirror directly facing your bed – this always brings a third party into the marriage of the sleeping occupants of the bed. Superstition frowns on having a mirror directly reflect the bed, but here the reason given is that doing so causes the spirit of your sleeping soul to enter into the mirror and you may not be able to return to your body when you wake up in the morning. In other words, it could cause you to get “trapped” in the in between world that exists between sleep and wakefulness. Another explanation is that the mirror attracts wandering spirits who come to steal your consciousness. Either prospect sounds scary, so it is better to avoid mirrors facing the bed.
13. Another major taboo handed down through the generations is never to leave laundry hung in the sunshine to stay there through the nighttime hours. Always remember to bring the washing back in when dusk falls, otherwise wandering spirits will be tempted to “attach themselves” to the clothing and take over the personality of the person when he/she wears them.
“There are stories of children behaving queerly after wearing clothing that had inadvertently been left hanging outside soaking in the yin energy of the night. Better remind yourself of this no matter how busy you are. Clothes (and especially underwear) left hanging out should ideally be thrown away.”
14. The Chinese have a great aversion to covering the forehead with hair. This is said to create a serious block on your wealth luck and is especially applicable to men. Men’s foreheads are said to be the part of the face that attracts wisdom, success and good fortune. Covering it seriously affects good fortune coming your way. You will find that successful men often sweep their hair to one side. Obviously fringes on children are fine, as they have not yet started working life.
15. Avoid whistling at night. You could be taking a walk and feeling happy, and might start to unconsciously whistle a tune. According to the old folks, doing so is sure to attract the attention of wandering spirits who then follow you home.
16. According to the Chinese, one should never use the broom to sweep outwards at the front of the shop. One should always sweep inwards from main door and then progressively work your way to the back of the shop. This pulls in the luck. In fact, always take note that traditionally, the front of the house is where good luck enters and the back of the house is where bad luck leaves.
17. If you step on poo, you can expect some good luck to come to you. It is the same when you dream of poo. Apparently this has to do with the body getting rid of its undesirable negativities. It is also believed that when a bird poos on your head, it means you are about to come into some speculative money.
18. Do not be a bridesmaid more than three times. Doing so creates a negative effect on your own marital luck, causing you to have difficulties finding someone to settle down with.
19. Never point the spout of a coffee or tea pot directly at the patriarch of the house, as this denotes him as the “enemy” of the household. It causes him to leave and even set up a second family outside the home. Pointing the pot this way is also a challenging signal towards the person the spout is pointed to.
20. When eating, never point the knife or fork directly at someone, as this is a hostile signal and can cause the other party to have an accident.
21. In regards to pregnancy, don’t do home renovation! In Western culture, it is popular to carry out renovation of a nursery to prepare for the baby. In Chinese culture, however, renovating is a big taboo as any kind of sawing, drilling and hammering is considered very threatening to the baby. However, you can put a knife under the bed to protect your baby from evil or malicious intent. One Chinese pregnancy taboo forbids pregnant women from attending funerals, to supposedly avoid exposure to negativity and the presence of spirits. In the case she absolutely must, superstition says she may wear a red scarf around her belly and other lucky talismans for protection. Pregnant women are also to avoid weddings. It might make sense to avoid funerals, but why happy occasions like weddings, too? The Chinese believe that mixing two happy events together can create a “clash of joy.” If a pregnant woman wishes to attend a wedding, it is taboo to touch the bride.
22. Lions guard the house. I love this one, so I did find a great pair of lions, and yes, they sit at the front door of our condo. They each weigh about 50 pounds, and yes, I’ll be bringing them back to the USA. Love my Lions!!