Some call them superstitions; some call them guidelines and follow them “just in case”. Whatever it is you call it, home superstitions are the reason why some Chinese will not live on the fourth floor, and why some buildings in New York skip the 13th floor altogether.
Wonder what are some of the home taboos around the world? Here are some of the most common and interesting ones. Yes we know you’re not pantang, but… just in case!
Numbers to love and hate
It’s commonly known that the number four sounds like death in Chinese. But it isn’t just the Chinese that have avoidance to the number. Four is also an unlucky number in Korea and Japan as well, and with the same reason that it sounds too much like death. On the other side of the world, the number 13 is considered unlucky, due to its association of the betrayal of Jesus Christ.
So, what are lucky numbers then?
The Chinese love the number 8, which represents prosperity, 9 for longevity, and the number 7 is considered lucky in Western culture.
How to sweep
The simple act of sweeping can make a difference between good and bad luck.
The Chinese believe that you should sweep the dirt of the floor inward towards the centre of the house, and then bring out the dirt through the back door. Sweeping out towards the front door means sweeping the good luck away!
In some parts of India, sweeping your floor in the evenings is considered unlucky as you’re driving Goddess Lakshmi (the Goddess of wealth, fortune, and prosperity) out of the house as she visits homes in the evenings.
In the West, some believe that you shouldn’t be sweeping a new place with an old broom.
Be careful in the kitchen!
The kitchen and dining area are, of course, not free from superstitions. If you eat with chopsticks, be sure to not stick them in the rice bowl upright as this resembles incense offerings and therefore, death.
Cooking? Don’t spill salt as it will bring bad luck! If you do, just throw salt over your left shoulder with your right hand and the devil will not take your soul. You just have extra cleaning to do, but that isn’t half as bad, right?
Eating noodles? Don’t cut them! A Chinese superstition believes that cutting noodles brings bad luck and a shorter life span.
Mirror Mirror on the Wall
Mirrors can be useful in Feng Shui, or can be downright unlucky. Apparently, your mirror should not be reflecting doors, windows, clutter, unpleasant views, or above the bed. Conversely, use mirrors that reflect beautiful views, and if they brighten up a dark space.
Needless to say, broken mirrors are a big taboo, and the Romans believed that a broken mirror brought seven years of bad luck. In other Western cultures, mirrors are also believed to be able to trap souls of deceased. So if you move into a furnished apartment with mirrors, you know what to do!
Have you got a favourite home superstition that you adhere to at all costs? Share it!