Sunday, January 30, 2011

Superstitious Lucky Rabbits

I just threw salt over my shoulder, and missed – damn.
Now it’s in my eye.
Just a sec.....................

How superstitious are you?

Derived from religious and cultural beliefs, superstitions have been passed down from generation to generation, often blurring from one culture to the next. Many ‘old wives’ tales’ have faded in time, their wording and meaning changing with each era. But some superstitions are so commonly known, so part of our daily lives, that we practice them without thinking (uncross those fingers!). Even those who STRONGLY object to superstition still pick up a penny when they see it. But do they do it in the spirit of acquiring great wealth, or are they repeating the age old saying ‘See a penny, pick it up, and for the day you’ll have good luck?’

Now, if I were smart about it, I would have saved every penny I found since childhood; I would have been a wealthy woman by now.

Not that I am compulsively phobic about superstitions, rearranging and arranging my life around them, but they are ever-present in my daily life. Heck, I even confuse one with the other, but I figure ‘better safe than sorry,’ and perform some sort of luck-fostering act.

And if I learn of one that has apparently ‘been around for ages,’ I panic – ‘How come I didn’t know about this? Oh how my life would have been luckier/wealthier/happier/safer if I had ONLY known to (insert appropriate newly-learned superstition here) all these years!’

Getting back to that salt in my eye, I dug around a bit (not in my eye, mind you), and found a clearly worded phrase to match the action:

Bad luck will follow the spilling of salt unless a pinch is thrown over the left shoulder into the face of the devil waiting there.

Ack! I never knew about the ‘devil’ bit, but the part about bad luck/salt over the shoulder? My mother instilled this on me since birth - more than the necessity for hairspray.

While discovering superstitions surrounding salt, I came across this one:

Put salt on the doorstep of a new house and no evil can enter.

That’s news to me! And to think I recently moved and never salted my doorstep! Would salting slugs do? Na – that’s not very nice.

How about this one:

Salty soup is a sign that the cook is in love.

Does that apply to mounds of salt on French Fries? And scrap the love bit...just pass the salt and vinegar, please!

And don’t go getting me around a ladder. In fact, I darn well nearly cross the street just to avoid the stupid things.

In my constant flurry in the kitchen, something is always being spilled, dropped, thrown or broken. I practically weep every time I drop a spoon – doing so brings disappointment.

My free-spirited friend thinks I am crazy, and mocks my twisted belief system. Sceptics like her say if you can’t see it or prove it, well then - forget it.

I don’t care. What’s wrong with a little luck? It never hurt anyone, did it?

Just to fuel my worries, I have been hounding my co-worker about Chinese superstition and luck. Her teachings have spiked my superstitious concerns, my imagination and phobic tendencies instantly taking on these cultural ways of thinking as my own.

As the Chinese New Year fast approaches, I grill her for every shred of lucky action I can perform. I am near ready to swallow tarantulas whole if it would make my life better.

Why this sudden neurotic need for more superstitious knowledge than my frail mentality can handle?

Numerous opinions on fostering a successful writing career have been penned by experts more prolific than I. Some strongly oppose the concept of having luck on your side when pursuing the literary dream. They say the road, path, journey – whatever you want to call it – to publication is not one of luck, but of hard work, perseverance, and determination. Other authors strongly oppose, saying that very often, especially in their own experiences, luck has played a huge part in their success. I agree with hard work and determination – and luck. What’s to hurt having a little on your side?

When I asked my co-worker what I should and shouldn’t be doing on Chinese New Year, hoping that any rituals I perform on the day commencing The Year of the Rabbit would prove successful for me in the forthcoming year, she patiently reminded me that with a country of 1.3 billion people in over 20 provinces, hosting numerous religious and cultural ways, she cannot possibly know all traditions.

“Oh.” My shoulders slumped. “Fine. Gimme what ya got.”

She pointedly looked at me and listed two ‘what not to do’s:’

No cussing. No reading. (She never elaborated as to why.)

Damn. I’m done for.

But then she brightened and said the day of the Chinese New Year is a ‘good time’ to buy clothes and underwear.

HOT DAMN! I guess I’m going shopping!

As I bid you Kung Hei Fat Choy, wishing you much happiness, wealth and luck in the coming Year of the Rabbit, I remind you to rely on your own strengths and determination to see you through.

And keep your fingers crossed – luck is right around the corner.

Wish me luck!


  1. Kung Hei Fat Choy! Great story, Lisa. Hope your Year is filled with tonnes of luck and very few black cats on your path. See a penny, pick it up....

  2. Kung Hei Fat Choy, Lisa! Wishing you lots of luck, new pennies and the power of 1. I think that pretty much covers it. Now, as for me, just in case I need a bit more than luck it's off to work but I'm stuffing that lucky penny in my pocket just in case.

  3. Janelle, my free-spirited friend....Kung Hei Fat Choy to you! Throwing a penny your way, for sure! Lisa

  4. Ryshia: and many Chinese New Year returns to you! Keep those pennies close, you never know when you might need them! Lisa