by Ben Lo | 8:14 pm

Although we are living in a technological era, superstitions still play an important part in our daily life when it comes to what we can / cannot do. Below are five superstitions that I find interesting still existing in Taiwan. Hope this post gives you some interesting stories.

Do not Point at the Moon

We believe that if one points at the Moon, their ears will be cut. I don’t know why that is the case but I did personally experience it. I pointed at the moon one night and a few days later, I experienced something like paper-cut pain on my left ear. I did not know what really caused that. It could be the cut caused by the zip of my pillow during my sleep. But anyway, since then, I dare not to point at the moon again.

Number 4

The pronunciation of number 4 is “si4” in Chinese while the pronunciation of death is “si3”. The only difference between number 4 and death is the tone. So number 4 is associated with death in a way and so people do not really like number four.

Thus, sometimes you won’t see the fourth floor in an apartment, a hospital or an elevator.

Do not Give a Clock or a Pair of Shoes as a Gift

As for a clock, it has something to do with Chinese pronunciation and characters as well. Giving (a) clock (送鐘) pronunces as “Song4 Zhong1” in Chinese and organizing a funeral for the elders (送終) also has the same pronunciation. So people do not give clock as a present.

As for a pair shoes, if you give your boyfriend/ girlfriend a pair of shoes as a gift, we believe that he/she will run away. That is, break up or separate. So we do not really give them shoes as a present either.

Do not Insert Chopsticks in the Rice

This has to do with our religious ritual. When we worship gods or ancestors, we use incense sticks (as the picture show on the right). If you insert your chopsticks in the rice, it will look like you are worship gods / ancestors or the deceased. The rice with incense sticks in it is for the deceased, so if you insert chopsticks in your rice, you know what it means right?

(Photo Credit: 月下說史 at 快報)

I personally did it once when I was little and was scolded and punished right away by my grandmother. I guess that is how culture is formed, isn’t it?

While doing my research, I came across this clip video made by a foreigner living in Taiwan. He also introduces some other superstitions that I did not cover today. If you are interested in more, check it out.

Do not Open Umbrella Indoors

It is said that if you open umbrella indoors, ghosts will gather under your umbrella as they are afraid of sunlight. So you might not want to do this when you are at home.

Do Not Do what Romans Don’t Do

These are five superstitions that I find interesting in Taiwan. I am not sure if these will bring bad luck to you. But as the proverb goes “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” I guess the same rule applies “Do not do what Romans don’t do”. If you are living in Taiwan or in a Chinese culture society, be aware of these superstitions. It is always fun to observe the locals from a perspective of foreigner.

Among these superstitions, which one is the most intriguing to you? Have you heard any of them before this post? Or have you ever heard other superstitions that you find interesting? Feel free to leave a comment below and share with us. Look forward to reading your interesting comments.

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Comments

Paul

Haha, love this post.  I worked on a farm in Australia with a large crew from Taiwan a few years back and learned first hand some of these superstitions.  My first experience was when I was assigning them rows to pick.  The rows weren’t numbered but as I got to the fourth row along they all froze.  I had to get some European pickers to do that row as they wouldn’t go into it.  I chatted with them a lot and they talked about these superstitions and how important they are to them and their culture.  Even some things I found rude about them such as not initially looking you in the eye (especialy the girls) was a sign of cultural respect and not rudeness.  

I can also attest to the shoes.  One guy turned up one day and had forgotten his shoes.  I had a spare pair in the car so I offered them… They all howled NO NO NO…  It was quite a shock.. Even more so when he drove an hour round trip (meaning he lost an hours worth of picking time) to get his own.  

I look back on thise guys now with fondness.  Thanks for a great post.

Paul

Jan 23.2019 | 11:40 pm

    Ben Lo

    It is a great comment. Did not expect that you had real contact with Taiwanese in Australia before. I enjoy reading your comment a lot. Yes, sometimes superstitions do play an important part in our lives even though it is 21 century now. Glad that these words are not just some words online but your personal experience with lots of memories.  

    Jan 24.2019 | 12:09 am

Denise

Ben Lo very interesting article. My great grandfather used to say “if a black cat crosses your path, turn around and go another way or brings you bad luck.” I have never taken these too serious. It is very interesting to hear of other cultures and what they believe.

Jan 23.2019 | 04:43 pm

    Ben Lo

    True. When I learn a new foreign language, I always like to know about their beliefs and superstitions as well. It is always fun and eyes-opening.

    Jan 26.2019 | 09:28 am

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