I discussed superstitions on my blog once many moons ago–I find the history of how different ones came about fascinating. All cultures and countries have them; my motherland is no exception. Some are hilarious and appear random. Some are probably the result of some idiot’s action-gone-awry (#11) Some had purpose: clearly devised to protect overworked, under-cared-for slaves and maids (see numbers 2 and 4, maybe 5). Some were undoubtedly born of a harsh time when untimely death was an everyday occurrence (#7). However outdated superstitions seem, they are an indelible part of a culture’s psyche and personality; that is to say whether tragic, silly, or humorous, all of these listed below are quintessentially Haitian in spirit. And if you’ve spent any time on that one-of-a-kind island, you know that tragedy, silliness and humor all abound.
A Dozen Superstitions Many Haitians Grew Up Hearing About
1.) Don’t walk around with only one shoe on; doing so will bring about your mother’s death.
2.) The floor mustn’t be swept at night; if done so, the mother of the head of household will die.
3.) Don’t crawl on your knees or walk on your knees, or your mother will die.
4.) Don’t eat the top of a watermelon or a grapefruit; if done, the mother of the head of household will die.
5.) Don’t sweep at a person’s feet; the person whose feet get brushed by the broom won’t get married.
6.) Don’t point at a rainbow–doing so will bring you much bad luck.
7.) Don’t attend your child’s funeral, or you’ll bury more of your children.
8.) Don’t gift someone a handkerchief or knife–the hankie will make him cry, and the knife will cause some misfortune. If someone gives you one of these things, then you have to give him/her money to symbolically turn the gift into a voluntary purchase.
9.) When you cook cornmeal or rice, expand your cheeks with air so that the food in the pot will also increase and multiply.
10.) Don’t put things down with your left hand, or you’ll forget where you put it.
11.) Don’t cut your nails on Fridays, or you’ll cut skin under the nails too.
12.) Don’t point with your index finger at a fruit-bearing tree; the fruit you’re pointing at will be a good-for-nothing, bad fruit. I actually did this quite innocently as an adult some years back–I pointed at my aunt’s lychee tree while asking her a question about it, and she actually slapped my arm and said, ‘What are you doing?!?‘
Any superstitions you’re familiar with? Care to speculate on the origins of some above? Please share!