Superstition is any belief or practise that is irrational - i.e., it arises from ignorance, a misunderstanding of science or causality, a positive belief in fate or magic, or fear of that which is unknown. "Superstition" also refers to religious beliefs or actions arising from irrationality.
The word superstition is often used to refer to a religion not practiced by the majority of a given society regardless of whether the prevailing religion contains superstitions. It is also commonly applied to beliefs and practices surrounding luck, prophecy, and certain spiritual beings, particularly the belief that future events can be foretold by specific (apparently) unrelated prior events.
How much do you follow superstitions? How many of them you have hear before? How long did you actually follow them in your life?
Below are some examples of superstitions in many aspects of life.
20 Crazy Things Our Singaporean Mothers Believed
"YOU DON'T EAT PLATE CLEAN LATER YOUR HUSBAND A LOT OF PIMPLES YOU KNOW!!"
Most Singaporeans grew up adhering to the lessons taught by our mothers and grandmothers. No matter the ethnic, culture, religion or age, everyone born and raised in this sunny island has heard their fair share of strange superstitions passed down from generation to generation.
Although these quirky beliefs can be rather irrational at times, they have now become a part of our daily lives. As much as I want to believe that such superstitions hold truth, after reaching a certain age we realise there were actually logical reasons behind them.
Come to think of it, it wasn't very nice of our mothers to instil these superstitious beliefs in us at a young age. But it sure made me listen to my mother without any hesitation and it was for our own good!
Here are the craziest things I've heard from my family, relatives and friends.
Old Wives Tales: It is believed that it will bring you and the household bad luck.
Logical Reason: Stop blocking the way!
Logical Reason: There weren't any lights in the olden days, so clipping your nails in the dark might leave you with cuts. Clipping them during the day lessens the risks of injuring yourself.
Logical Reason: Showering in a cooler/colder weather may increase the chances of you getting arthritis and/or rheumatism.
Logical Reason: You will scare your soulmate away.
Old Wives Tales: Snapping a picture of a sleeping person will capture their soul, leaving their body soul-less.
Logical Reason: I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t want a picture of my sleeping-self being shared on the internet.
Old Wives Tales: The Chinese culture believes that there’s a mythological character living on the moon and pointing your finger at his direction is considered rude and you will get your ears cut off.
Logical Reason: Especially in Singapore, being able to see and actually point at the moon means that you are probably still out. This is a weird way for our mothers to say “Come home!”.
Logical Reason: This crazy belief is due to hygiene purposes. Imagine the bacteria and dirt accumulated on your hands by the end of the day. Urgh! I personally take a shower when I reach home.
Logical Reason: Again, this is due to hygiene. Remnants of your old nails can still be found on your fingers or toes in a form of dust. By washing them off, it will prevent you from accidentally inhaling or consuming that nasty “powder”.
Logical Reason: It is dangerous and you might end up hurting someone with the sharp edges.
Logical Reason: It is proper and hygienic to cover that open cavity. One, you will probably look silly with a wide open trap. Two, it will be embarrassing if you are in serious need of breath mints.
Logical Reason: Soon-to-be mothers ought to surround themselves with everything calm, serene and relaxing, for a smooth pregnancy. I think pictures of cute babies make me happy.
Logical Reason: There’s no other reason than your bum dirtying the pillow that you rest your head on every night.
Logical Reason: It is scientifically proven that when your eyes twitch, you are in need of a major sleeping session because you are tired.
Logical Reason: It can be dangerous to do so if the bamboo poles fall.
Logical Reason: A way of teaching us not to waste food.
Logical Reason: Firstly, you don’t want crumbs on your bed which might attract pests. Secondly, eating on the bed will also mean that you might lie down before allowing time for the food to be digested which is bad for your health.
Logical Reason: Another one of those common sense reasons whereby you might cause someone injury when accidentally tripping him/her while they are walking in front of you.
Logical Reason: Our body is at the weakest state after childbirth. The confinement period acts as a time out for the mother to rest and bond with her new born baby.
Logical Reason: Getting someone a clock as a present is just weird. Like cmon! He clearly did read our guide to 20 non-lame presents!
Logical Reason: Don't be the annoying neighbour.
The belief that the number 13 is unlucky is so widespread that its origins are unclear - different theories link it to Christian tradition (once again related to the Last Supper, where Judas is said to have sat at the thirteenth place at the table); Viking lore (the trickster god Loki being the thirteenth god); and the Persian zodiac (in which there are twelve signs, leaving the number thirteen to represent chaos.) The specific fear of Friday the 13th dates back to the 19th century, combining two old superstitions: the fear of the number 13 with the belief that Fridays are unlucky days.
The morbid fear of the number 13 is technically known as "triskaidekaphobia", and is so common that many buildings have no floor 13 - going straight from 12 to 14.
Black cats have long been seen in Western cultures as an omen of bad luck - they have long been associated with witches, and many cultures believe that a black cat crossing your path means you will suffer disaster or even death. Gamblers are especially fearful of the black cat curse - many of them believe that if they see a black cat while going to a casino, they should abandon their plans to gamble there.
However, it's not all bad news for the black cats; in some cultures, including in Japan, Great Britain and Ireland, the opposite is true, and black cats are seen as bringers of good luck.
Crossing your fingers to wish for good luck (or, secretly, to get you out of keeping a promise) is common around the world - but its origins are unclear. It seems to be most common in Christian countries, suggesting that it's related to the Christian sign of the cross. However, other suggestions include it being an old Pagan or Norse gesture, or possibly a good luck superstition created by archers during the "Hundred Year War" between England and France (archers used their two main fingers to draw back their bow.)
It's a common superstition that a broken mirror will result in seven years bad luck - it's thought this belief can be traced back to the idea that a mirror captures part of your soul. So when a mirror breaks, part of your soul gets broken too. That's also why some cultures cover up all mirrors and reflective surfaces in a house where someone has died - so their soul can leave the building without getting trapped in the mirror.
It's an old superstition that accidentally spilling salt is a bad omen: it's said that it draws its origins from the Christian tradition, due to Judas Iscariot having supposedly spilled salt at the Last Supper shortly before he betrayed Jesus. In fact, its origins are probably much more pragmatic: until recently, salt was really expensive, so spilling it was already rather unlucky. It was also used as a sign of friendship and hospitality - spilling salt offered to you by your host was a bad sign.
Much like black cats, spilled salt can work both ways - another common superstition holds that throwing a pinch of salt over your left shoulder brings good luck and wards off evil.
Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia - that's the technical name for the fear of the number 666, otherwise known as the Number of the Beast. This superstition undeniably comes from Christianity - the number is mentioned as being representative of Satan in the Biblical Book of Revelations. It's gained in popularity through being heavily featured in films like The Omen (above), and was taken so seriously by former US President Ronald Reagan that when he moved into a private house at the end of his presidency, he had the street number changed from 666 to 668.
However, it might be that everyone's got it wrong all this time - in 2005, a group of scholars announced that they discovered evidence that the number was originally supposed to be 616, not 666...
Walking Under Ladders
Walking underneath a ladder is widely held to be bad luck. Despite some theories suggesting that this is to do with the triangle formed by a ladder representing the Christian Holy Trinity, the most likely explanation is far more simple and obvious: walking under laddders is quite dangerous. It's actually just sensible health and safety advice dressed up as a superstition.
Chain letters are an old phenomenon, dating back to at least 1888 - letters that ask the recipient to copy them and pass them on, often warning the superstitious that some terrible fate will await them if they don't (often giving examples of bad things that have happened to people who didn't forward them.) And the arrival of email and then social networks - making it even easier to pass messages along - has only increased the popularity of chain mail. While many chain letters are money-making scams, the reasons behind the more superstitious ones are unclear... beyond a simple desire to see how far something will spread.
For those who always travel.
8 Hotel Room Superstitions To Practise For an Undisturbed Night’s Sleep
1. Always knock before entering your room 2. Let there be light 3. Flush the toilet 4. Occupy All Beds 5. Don’t Sleep Facing The Mirror 6. Throw your footwear around 7. Avoid rooms near the fire exits 8. Don’t pick up random ritualistic objects
Of course, for drivers.
7 Singaporean Driving Superstitions and Taboos
1. Wash and wax prevents misfortune
And of course, the number one superstition amongst car-lovers here must be that a dirty car attracts dents and accidents. But there may be some basis for this, if you believe what applies to cities applies to cars: the broken windows theory states that maintaining and monitoring urban environments to prevent small crimes such as vandalism, public drinking and toll-jumping helps to create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness, hence preventing more serious crimes from happening. If you don’t believe washing and waxing works, here's some food for thought: 3 Singaporean cars have been stolen in Johor Bahru recently in less than a week. Do you think they were stolen because they looked dirty and rundown, or because they were freshly washed and waxed?
2. Park next to lorries/always pick corner lots
It’s more of a personal superstition, but I suspect I’m not alone in doing so. The decision to pick a lot which has ample space for the other vehicle occupants to get in or out – without dinging your doors – has helped my car's body stay pristine over its six year lifespan. So has my preference picking corner lots, even if I have to walk further to where I am going.
3. Lucky dent
How many of you believe that a small dent in time prevents nine? Indeed there are owners who go to great lengths to scratch their brand new cars once they take delivery of them – although they usually places these scratches in corners that are hard to notice.
The reasoning is simple: a new pristine car is statistically more likely to get scratched or dented than one that has seen a few dings or lines, just like the longer you go between accidents, the more likely you’re to have one. Lucky dents, I’ve had a few. This is despite the fact that I never…
4. Rear-Mirror amulets & good luck charms
Take a walk along a carpark on a Sunday, and you may spot amulets hanging from the rear-view mirrors of some cars. That’s when you know the owner is a religious person, usually of the Buddhist persuasion. That said, many car-owners of other faiths do place religious sayings in the form of decals or bumper stickers in or around their cars, so that may count as decoration rather than superstition. As for me, I’ve got an Ugly Doll hanging from the mirror and a McDonald’s Cookie Monster in one of my two drinks compartments (it was a memento from 2001 – don’t judge me). Have they worked? Well, not really.
5. Beautiful license numbers
This numerical obession doesn’t stop at individual numbers. There are also numbers which, as a whole, are considered ‘beautiful’. These comprise those which have won top prizes in the national lottery (4D) or simply a set that rolls beautifully off the tongue.
For some reason my dad thinks my license plate number 5968 is beautiful, although I’ve never won any money on it. But that may be because I have never been a betting man…
6. Auspicious car numbers (no 4 or 13)
The Chinese regard the number 4 with a great deal of trepidation, because it sounds like the words “die” in Chinese dialects, and apparently that is enough for us to actively seek to prevent the numeral from showing up anywhere on our license plate registration numbers.
This makes unlucky 4 the Eastern equal to the West’s unlucky number 13, but ups the ante by being infinitely compatible with other modifying numbers, like 14 (sounds like “sure to die”) or 5354 (which sounds like “not grow, not dying”), 7456 ("angry die me"), 9413 ("90% chance of death, 10% chance living"), and 748 ("go and die").
On the other hand, the number 8 fills the Chinese spirit with pure love and happiness, as it sounds like the word for “fortune”. As a result, license plates like “9898” have been known to go for a literal fortune – somewhere in the region of over SGD100,000.
7. Buying or taking delivery of new cars during 7th months
Of course, this falls exactly in line with the general superstition to not start anything new during the 7th lunar month. According to the Chinese, the gates of Hell open for 30 days during this period, and all manner of spirits, demons and ghosts of the netherworld are allowed to spring forth to wreak havoc in our world.
This explains why, according to Chinese tradition, more deaths occur during this month, as the risk of physical dangers are increased due to the otherworldly mischief. Coincidentally, new ventures, such as starting new businesses, or the buying of and moving into new homes – and buying of new cars - tail off, as the Chinese believe it is inauspicious for them to do so during this period.
Edited by DACH, 30 August 2017 - 04:55 PM.