Cultural Superstition Essay

Pages: 4 (1260 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology

Chinese Superstition

There are many superstitions that my grandparents tell me about. They range from such things as if a dog howls at night it means someone has died to if a baby cries for no apparent reason it means there are ghosts around or if you have a dream about snow it means your parents have died. One superstition that they tell me about has to do with the number eight, which in Chinese is a very lucky number. The reason for this is that in Chinese, the word for eight, "ba," sounds similar to another word in Chinese, which means wealth, "fa," in native dialects. Therefore, whenever Chinese people who believe in such a superstition receive something like a bank account that has 8's in it, or a phone number, or an address, or a license plate, or anything of the sort, they count themselves very lucky. In the same way, they say the number four is unlucky because it sounds like a word that means "death."

I do not think it is such a bad thing to know about the superstitions of my culture. In fact, I think knowing them lets us all have a little fun with life. Why should we not interpret signs as fortuitous or as warnings? They are not necessarily to be taken seriously, but they allow one's thoughts to dwell on things that are mysterious, and they let the imagination play.

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When I asked my grandparents where they learned this superstition, they said they had always been aware of it, from the earliest times in their lives. They were raised in China, so they knew a lot of Chinese superstitions. Each of them even knew ones that the other did not, so to hear one say, "Oh, I had never heard of that one," was amusing.

My grandparents do not seem to have been much affected by such superstitions -- at least not by the luckiness or unluckiness of numbers. It seems to be one that is neither detrimental nor beneficial -- just something that people talk about among themselves. People are always talking about things to make the time passing, making up stories or talking about how unlucky or lucky they are.

TOPIC: Essay on Cultural Superstition Assignment

Since the origin of this superstition is mostly lingual, I can understand why it started. I can also understand the superstition about ghosts and babies crying…the Chinese can be very spiritual and very aware of the dead and the supernatural and the interaction of the dead with the living. It is a part of the Chinese culture and I can perceive it in my family.

I do not judge these superstitions as bad, either. Some think they are, in fact, very special. Some Chinese who have become Christian do not believe in such superstitions, which I think is fine. Christianity has its own explanations for mysterious things, and for other mysterious things it has no explanation. Some Chinese Christians hold on to their superstitious beliefs just because they have learned them at an early age, and what you learn at an early age is not easily forgotten.

I myself do not necessarily believe these superstitions, but at the same time I think there may be something to them. Even I myself sometimes find myself rooting for the number eight and cringing at the number four. If I do not believe (as I tell myself I don't), why do I still do that? I suppose it is just part of human nature to have such reactions.

As for the superstitions about dreams of snow -- I do not think I believe that one so much. I have had dreams about snow before and my parents are still alive. The one about babies crying because of spirits, however, is intriguing.

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