I suppose I should be grateful that today’s prompt wasn’t ‘corned beef’ or anything but we’re still kind of hitting the nail right on the head here, aren’t we? Subtly, thy name is not WordPress.
Well while everyone else is being kissed because they’re Irish or celebrating that the Pope said they can eat meat on a Friday or out in the fields looking for four-leaf clovers, I wanted to talk about some lesser known Asian superstitions that pertained to, you guessed it, making sure you had some good luck.
More common I suppose in the Philippines than say, the US, but perhaps also relatable for the Irish, it is said in the Philippines that if a snake crosses your path this will bring good fortune. Unless it bites you. Or you’re on a plane.
In both China and the Philippines, when and where and how you sweep can determine your good fortune or bad. For example, in the Philippines it is considered bad luck to sweep at night or whenever people are playing cards or gambling, for fear of sweeping away good luck. In China for the Lunar New Year the house is cleaned top to bottom but sweeping is done inward and then gathered in a pile to be brought out the back door, as the front door is said to be where good fortune and grace enter.
Teru teru bozu are little white dolls made from cloth or paper. They are especially popular among Japanese schoolchildren as they are supposed to help influence the weather. Hang a teru teru bozu right side up to ensure good weather, or hang it upside down to try and encourage bad. Great for right before school field trips or final exams.
In almost all Asian cultures, when giving either a wallet or bag as a gift, it is customary to put some small change or at least one bill in it, to help ensure good luck and prosperity. The same is true for the coming year; everyone in my family will make sure there is at least some money in our wallets to start the year with.
In any and all Filipino houses or businesses you will most likely find a statue of the Santo Nino (child Jesus). This supposedly brings good luck. The supposed origin of this is when the Philippines was still a Spanish colony, the Spanish set fire to most of the city of Cebu as punishment for hostile actions by the Cebuanos wanting independence. After the fire, amidst the wreckage, Spanish soldiers found the statue of the Santo Nino remarkably and miraculously unscathed.
Ema are wooden boards that the Japanese can purchase at Shinto shrines. The Japanese use these boards to write their wishes, after which they hang them at the shrine for the gods to receive and fulfill. It is fun when visiting shrines to read what some people wish for. You will see students hoping for good results on their college entrance exams, couples wishing for a long and successful relationship, or workers hoping for a new job or promotion.
Wearing red in China is considered auspicious and can bring the best of luck. That is why celebratory garments are often red and on the Chinese New Year gifts of money are given in red envelopes to impart good luck and good fortune. The same is true of oranges, which are often given to elders or in offerings.
Children’s Day is a holiday in Japan that is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month (May 5th). It is a time for families to celebrate the happiness and health of their children and to wish them good luck to grow up strong, healthy, and successful. A common practice on Children’s Day is to fly koinobori, which are kites that are made to look like the Asian carp. This is from a traditional folk tale about a little carp that swam upstream and became a dragon.
Of course, being a gambler, I have my own set of superstitions for good luck and good fortune whenever I’m at a casino. There’s no real rhyme or reason to it. I think pyschologically it helps me to deal with the complete lack of control over my actual results. Before I open up my cards, I always rub them on the table face down and over the money. I tell everyone I am about to hit the tables because I don’t want anyone to think about me and miss me, or else I might lose because they want me to return. If I want the dealer to get a high card, I yell ‘monkey, monkey, monkey’ to scare a high card to the top of the deck. Don’t ask me why.
Hope you’re all lucky and happy and healthy. And if not, grab one of these superstitions and get to it! And remember…
Man: 219 Loneliness: 33