16 Pantang/Superstitions we grew up with and still practice. Well some of them.
Because being a Kiasu Singaporean, you know it's better to believe than to ignore these.
One of the most unique things about Singapore is that regardless of race, language or religion, many superstitions we have are shared across the board.
We are not sure how some of these superstitions came about but we’re pretty sure many Pantang Larang, or just plain Pantang, Singaporeans will surely follow these superstitions even till this day.
1. Must say ‘sorry’ before you answer the call of nature, in nature
This was one practice that we lemploy regularly during NS. Regardless of which religion you subscribed to, you’d say ‘sorry’ to the thin air in front of you before you took a dump or pee in the jungle.
The thinking behind this is to warn the spirits that you are about to ‘bomb’ the area so that they can vacate the premises.
It makes sense, since you’d have to apologise to your friend if you went to his house and took a big one in his living room.
Maybe if you said sorry, you won’t get STOMPed as well.
2. Buy 4D based on accident car plate numbers
Car plate numbers for 4D – the only reason why traffic jams in Singapore last longer than necessary.
3. Must finish all the food on your plate
Singaporeans are not known for their porcelain skins like the Koreans or Japanese, but one thing’s for sure, Christopher Lee’s plates must have been damn clean.
4. You should not give loved one shoes/clocks/sharp objects as gifts
In Cantonese and Mandarin, giving a clock is a homophone for a funeral ritual. So unless, you’re wishing death upon the recipient, you don’t give clocks.
You don’t give sharp objects like scissors because they symbolise cutting up the ‘relationship thread’ that bind both parties.
Giving shoes symbolises wanting to send the other party away or ending a relationship. I think one very clever boyfriend/husband came up with this superstition to avoid having to buy shoes as gifts. Have you seen the price tags on Louboutin shoes?
5. Pregnant women should not hammer or cut stuff
You don’t need superstitions to know that having a heavily pregnant lady working heavy tools is a bad idea. Superstitions and pantang just reinforces this, I guess.
6. Cannot cut nails at night
One belief is that spirits would eat the nails and take on your form and appearance.
The Japanese believe that if you do cut your nails at night, you will not be present at your parents’ deathbed. The Thais believe that cutting your nails at night is akin to breaking your ancestors’ bones.
This superstition could have originated from the times where there was no proper lighting at night and people used knives or sharp objects to cut their nails, resulting in bloody fingers.
7. Offer a condiment like salt or pepper in the forest, making sure not to look skywards. You will have a windfall the next day
If not you get rainfall.
Not sure if this superstition is a trolling one though.
8. You should not pat a gambler on his shoulder
The Chinese believe that there are 3 lights/flames on a person – on the forehead and one on each side of the shoulders. Patting it may extinguish the flame which supposedly wards off bad luck.
9. Rolling a pineapple into a new home
The Hokkien term for pineapple is ‘Ong Lai’ and it also sounds like ‘Incoming fortune’. Rolling a pineapple into a new home means that you want fortune to come rolling into your house.
10. Moths that fly into your room are your departed relatives
Many believe that moths are actually spirits of your recently departed kin. You are not supposed to chase these moths out of the house or kill them. Moths have a powder-like substance that can cause rashes, so you wouldn’t want to touch them anyway.
11. You shouldn’t have three people in one photograph
They say that the middle person in a photograph will be the first to die.
I guess with all the selfies our Instagram generation are taking, we will completely wipe out the human race in a few years then.
12. Perfectly peel an apple at midnight to see your future spouse in the mirror
The younger generation has a better tool now – it’s called stalking your crush on Facebook/Instagram/Tinder.
A variation to this is that if you don’t peel the apple perfectly, you will see how you die. Creepy.
13. Bad luck for businessmen and salespeople to see monks first thing in the morning
Because monks are botak (no hair), it means that it is an omen for businessmen and salespeople that they will have little or no earnings for the day if they see a monk in the morning.
14. No pointing at the moon
The belief was that if you did so, your ear would be cut off. Several naughty children still have their ears intact though.
If you think about it though, when their parents told them not to point at the moon or their ears would be cut off, that instruction fell on deaf ears. So when naughty kids did point at the moon, their ears were ‘cut off’ figuratively. *Mind blown*
15. You should look straight into the eyes of whoever you are toasting
If you don’t maintain eye contact, you will have bad sex for 7 years.
Not sure how Chinese couples getting married can adhere to this when they do a Yum Seng three times. If they mess up, that’s 21 years of bad luck in the bedroom.
16. Vote PAP for a good life
You want a good life? Better start working hard for yourself. No other way.