Friday, March 26, 2010

Superstitions and Chickens' Feet

This week, we were talking about superstitions and luck in our sophomore classes. For one part of the lesson, students were to brainstorm a list of superstitions in China. Here are some of the superstitions they shared:

Relating to Death:
You must not let your tears touch the clothes of the deceased person or the deceased person will become a beggar in the next life.
A pregnant woman should not go in to see a deceased person or else the deceased person may steal the soul of her child.
You must burn the deceased person clothing in order that he/she will have a lot of clothes in the next life.
When you are carrying the casket to the grave, the people should not look back over their shoulder.
Before you place the casket in a mountainside tomb, you should leave the casket sitting outside the tomb and wait until the mountain God is free before placing the casket in the tomb (about a month.)
If a crow is cawing for a long time outside your house, it means that someone in your family is going to die.
It is bad luck to write your name in red pen because it means that you will die soon.

Relating to Marriage:
Before the bride enters her new home, she must jump over a pit of fire in order to have good luck.
The bride should wear a red wedding dress (red is the color of wealth and happiness.)
The bedspread and sheets for the new couple should be red.
The friends and relatives will put some dates and peanuts in the bed before the couple’s first night together to promote fertility.
It is bad luck to get married in the year of the tiger (which happens to be this year) because it is likely that one of the persons will die young.

Relating to Spring Festival:
On the first day of the Spring Festival, you should not sweep your house or remove any trash from the house.
On the first day of the Spring Festival, you should not have a bath or wash your hair (I’m not sure why on this one…just don’t do it.)

If you comb your hair at midnight, you will see ghosts.
If you look in a mirror at midnight and peel an apple so the skin is completely in one piece, you will be able to see your future spouse in the mirror.
If a bird poops on your head, you must collect one bowl of rice from 100 neighbors in order to prevent having bad luck (talk about a busy day.)
If a dog wanders to your house, it will bring good luck and prosperity to your family.
If a cat wanders to your house, it will bring bad luck and poverty to your family.
If a pregnant woman dreams of a snake, she is going to give birth to a boy.
If a snake comes to your house, you must make one of your children cry or else your family will have bad luck.
On the first and 15th of the month, it is common to sacrifice delicious food to one’s deceased ancestors.
You should put a round mirror above the door of your house so that ghosts will see their own reflection and be scared away from entering your house.
If you eat a chicken’s foot as a child, you will have poor handwriting when you grow up.

To end this part of the lesson, students discussed the differences between superstition and belief. Most classes came to the conclusion that superstition is based out of fear and is not true while belief is something that you trust in to be true. Many students confessed that they don’t believe in superstitions but they follow the traditions in order to honor their grandparents. One guy student spoke up and said that he felt the superstitions limit their ability to have freedom in their life. It’s interesting to see what will happen in the future to the Chinese traditions that are steeped in superstition.

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