Tan Yang Meng

The Fear of the Unknown and Insecurity: Safety Measures

It seems that almost everyone on earth is superstitious. To me, superstition is the result of fear of the unknown and insecurity.

So, to be cautious people hold on to some superstitions just in case things happen, or just to play safe as nothing is lost for taking such precaution. And if things do happen in their favour when they practice superstitious acts, they will continue in their superstitious beliefs that helped them. However, when things turned out against them despite all the superstitious acts, they still can explain it off. Thus, in this way, superstitions perpetuate.

Pregnancy and Superstition

For the Chinese, when a woman is expecting a child, she must abstain from eating certain foods like octopus. It is believed that if the woman eats octopus or squids during her pregnancy her child will be just as active (in an undisciplined manner) as the squids, which have many tentacles! Some went against this superstition and yet their children are disciplined. The Bible in Proverbs says that we must discipline and train a child. Psychologists believe that a child must be trained in order to have proper behaviour. Next, an expectant mother is not supposed to move the bed or shift to another house as this will cause her to lose her baby or have a miscarriage. A miscarriage may happen due to the weakness of the woman’s womb and the physical exertion, and not as a consequence of moving from one house to another.

Another superstition is that an expecting mother must not use a pair of scissors to cut a piece of cloth or clothes as this will cut the lips of her foetus and her baby will have harelips. Science has proved that harelips are not the result of any pregnant woman cutting pieces of cloth. Carrying a child to full term and giving birth to the child is not an easy matter. So, people would like to ensure safety to the child and the expectant mother by all means including the practice of superstitious acts.

After giving birth, the new mother must not take her bath or wash her hair for a month! This is still practiced by some Chinese in very traditional families. It is believed that taking baths and washing hair will lead to rheumatism in the future as water will enter through the pores of her skin. I know of many new mothers who washed and bathed because of the humidity and hot weather and yet they are very healthy!

Washing Hair and Going Crazy

Related to the idea of washing hair, many people will not wash their hair when it is late at night as it might give them headaches, or as my late mother used to say, “you will go crazy”. Many have washed late in the night and yet nothing has happened to them. The important thing is to dry the hair before sleeping.

The Far End of the Chopsticks

Another Chinese superstition is if one holds the far end of the chopsticks while using them to eat, he or she will marry far away! So if you do not want this to happen, you must hold it just at the middle. This is against Scripture as our future is in God’s plan, no matter how we hold our chopsticks.

Salted Fish and Auspicious Occasions

The Chinese also believed that we must not buy or give people salted fish during auspicious occasions, as this will bring death to the family.

Three years ago, I brought the best-salted fish back from Cambodia when I came back for Chinese New Year. It was to be divided among the siblings. My non-Christian brothers were a little uneasy. They said nothing and took their portion. I’d actually forgotten totally about this superstition. Four months later, my grandmother passed away and they brought up the issue of the salted fish! As my grandmother was very old, I did not receive a scolding.

All in God’s Hand! So, Let us Not Fear!

To me, life and death are in God’s hand, and not on how and when we use or not use the salted fish. The Bible is very clear that God does not like superstition as it reveals our fear, shows our lack of faith and trust in God as our Protector and the One who has good plans for our future (Jeremiah 29:11):

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Tan Yang Meng
Bethany International University


Tan Yang Meng
Bethany International University

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