New year, same superstitions
Cultural superstitions are more than just (un)justified beliefs.
As the new year comes around, my family sets up our tray of 12 round fruits once again. We open our windows, scatter coins around the house, and make as much noise as possible when midnight hits. Being a half-Asian child who has grown up in Canada’s Western culture, sometimes these cultural superstitions seem a little silly and pointless to me. But to my mother, who is from The Philippines, each ritual has its own important purpose. Even though I don’t believe in any superstitions, I participate in them anyway. Whether you choose to believe in them or not, cultural superstitions can still hold a lot of value.
In The Philippines, there are many superstitions that come with each important day. On my birthday, I am given a large container of rice noodles, called pancit, to share at work, in hopes that I live a long life. Although it seemed a little odd the first time around, I took them anyways. Who says no to good food? I understood the general idea—long noodles, long life—but it didn’t have any real meaning behind it.
Obviously, the noodles won’t have any real effect on my lifespan. The intentions behind the act of bringing noodles are what gives this superstition value—it shows love and care from my mom. She takes time out of her busy day to prepare food for me knowing it has no physical effect on how long I live. This specific superstition also provides an opportunity to share an aspect of my Filipino culture with my coworkers. They get to taste a new food from a different culture and participate in this Filipino superstition.
The new year brings many superstitions with it in Filipino families. Kids jump from stair steps at midnight so that they will grow taller, and people put sticky rice on dining tables to symbolize how their family will “stick” together.
My favourite superstition is making as much noise as possible at the stroke of midnight. Every year, I look forward to joining my family in banging frying pans together, shaking containers full of coins, and yelling as loud as we can to scare off the evil spirits in the house. For me, this acts as a family bonding moment where we can all laugh and simply have some fun. This is exactly how I want to start each new year.
Looking at both superstitions, the common theme behind them is good intention. Each time my mother cooks a certain food or tells me to do some odd action, she does it with the belief that it will help me in life. Whether that is a simple goal like hoping to grow more, or something bigger, like increasing lifespan, each action is always rooted in positive energy. Not only do these superstitions show how my family cares for and wants the best for one another, but it also allows us to get in touch with our cultural background and truly appreciate family tradition.