Growing up in Singapore, we’ve all heard countless superstitions that are supposed to lead us to harm. These superstitions often have no rational explanations behind them, but we kind of believe them anyway.
I remember asking my grandmother why I couldn’t cut my nails at night, and she just simply said to trust an elder’s words. Well, no room for argument there.
These Asian superstitions may sound crazy, but it’s a part of our culture and some are pretty interesting. Here are eight superstitions commonly heard in Singapore and Asia, that you may or may not want to adhere to (but good luck if you don’t!).
1. The Three Flames
The Chinese believe that there are three balls of flames on us; one on each shoulder and one on our head. The fire protects us from evil spirits, keeping them away like a badass flamethrower if you’re walking back home alone at night through a dark alley.
However, if you hear a voice calling out to you from behind, do not turn your neck around as you will extinguish the flame. That would be game over then, as you’ve just lost your “weapon” and the voice that called out to you is going to eat you alive. Or maybe it will walk you home? Might be a friendly ghost.
2. Stepping Over Someone
This one might be a little uncommon to some of you, but it’s apparently unwise to step or walk over somebody who is lying down. I remember doing that to my dad when I was young as he napped on the floor, and my mum would tell me to stop it.
The reason is because if you step over somebody lying on the ground, that person would die. Wow, didn’t expect that plot twist now, did you?
3. Cutting Fingernails At Night
This superstition is a classic. Ah Ma always says not to clip your nails at night, or else the “dirty things” will come visit.
Personally, I think it’s just because in the past, there wasn’t any lighting readily available at the flip of a switch. Thus, it was hard to see at night and you might accidentally cut your fingers.
But whatever helps you sleep at night, yeah?
4. Good Doggy
There’s a belief that dogs can see into the other realm, so if you hear or see a dog barking late at night for no reason, it means there’s a ghost.
See, that’s another reason to own a dog; it tells you when and where a ghost appears so you can avoid it. What a good boy indeed.
5. The Pontianak
This is more of a Malaysian and Indonesian thing, but I’m sure we’ve all heard of it as well. A Pontianak is the spirit of a woman who died while she was pregnant.
If you hear the dreadful cries of babies at night, it could be a sign that the Pontianak is near. Or if you’re walking alone at night, and you smell something sweet like jasmine… RUN.
6. Whistling At Night
This is one that I’m guilty of way too often. Basically, if you start whistling at a time like 2am, evil spirits will be attracted to your beautiful whistling sound and they will come and find you.
Stop whistling and start humming instead!
7. Cover Your Mirrors
Ever heard that you should never sleep in front of a mirror? It’s believed that as you sleep, your soul leaves your body and wanders around. So if there’s a reflection of you in the mirror, the soul might go into the mirror, thinking that it’s your body, and never return to your actual body.
You’ll then be a soulless and lifeless chunk of flesh, lying on your bed. Basically what I already am every day.
8. Blinding Butterflies
I used to play in the park a lot, and my mum always told me to siam the butterflies if they flew too close to me.
She told me it was because butterflies could potentially blind me. And so, silly me believed that for most of my childhood. I blame my mum for the fact that I could never catch a Butterfree.
I’m stopping the list at eight because it’s a lucky number, and I think we all need some luck right now after reading this article. Many of the superstitions have no rhyme or reason behind them; they just exist as sort of a guideline for people to ease their fears.
Whether you choose to believe them or not, I guess there is no harm in following through with some of these superstitions. It might really just give you a peace of mind. I definitely don’t want to see a Pontianak ever in my life.
Sleep tight tonight, people.