Top 10 Most Outrageous Asian Superstitions

I had only been out of the shower for five minutes before my mom walked into my room to give me the same warning she’s repeated to me a hundred times before. “Don’t go to bed with hair wet, ” she casually reminded me. “And stop cutting your nails at night. Someone in the family will die if you do that.”

Morbid? You bet. Oddly enough, after a lifetime of hearing Filipino superstitions, these dark warnings were nothing out of the ordinary. After all, during the night we’re also told not to whistle, pound on doors, or comb our hair. I would tell you the reason behind each superstition, but it gets a little difficult to keep track of all the ways one can apparently cause death and disease.

While every culture has their share of crazy superstitions, it’s safe to say that Asian cultures have some of the craziest. We’ve decided to round them up for you. Here are 10 of the most bizarre and outrageous Asian superstitions:



Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

1) Clipping nails at night.
While Filipinos believe that cutting your nails or toenails at night will bring a death in the family, Chinese superstition claims that cutting nails at night will bring ghosts and evil spirits. Do I believe in these superstitions? Nah. Will I avoid the nail clipper anyway because I’d rather not have an evil spirit show up? Yup.



Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

2) Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.
Who doesn’t love being a bridesmaid? You get to doll up and celebrate the happiness of a dear friend or family member. But according to Chinese culture, you don’t want to be a bridesmaid more than three times. If you do, you won’t be able to find a husband for yourself. Goodluck telling your BFF you can’t be her bridesmaid because she got married too late.




Photo courtesy of

3) Blinding butterfly.
Ahh, the butterfly. Even those who don’t like insects can appreciate the beauty of the butterfly. However, according to Korean superstition, these dainty creatures have quite an evil to them. Apparently, if you touch a butterfly (or moth) then touch your eyes, you will go blind. So much for butterflies being the safe insect.



Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

4) There can only be one.
It’s not uncommon to find a mirror somewhere on the front door of an Asian establishment or home, but as it turns out, there’s a very specific reason for this. According to Vietnamese superstition, mirrors are placed on the front of doors to ward off dragons. That’s right. Dragons. Apparently, if a dragon tries to get in, he will see his reflection in the mirror and assume that there is already a dragon inside. And of course every dragon knows there can’t be more than one in a room. Duh.



Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

5) The Moon doesn’t appreciate your pointing.
Imagine being on romantic date and looking up at the stars. Suddenly, the clouds shift and a full moon comes into view. You point up at it to show your beautiful date, but then you realize you can’t hear her response. Oh yeah, that’s because your ears have fallen off. According to Chinese superstition, that’s what happens to you if you point at the moon with your finger. Who comes up with this stuff?




Photo courtesy of

6) To kill or not to kill?
If we couldn’t get you to trust butterflies, then there’s no hope for spiders, right? Well according to Japanese superstition, a spider can bring good luck if you catch it at the right time. If you see a spider in the morning, don’t kill it! Morning spiders are said to bring goodluck. However, if you see a spider at night, squish it as fast as you can because night spiders are bad luck. So what about afternoon spiders?



pregnant belly_5

7)The birds and the bees.
Not ready for children? Then you better avoid stepping over a woman’s stretched legs. Sure there’s many more… technicalities to getting a woman pregnant, but Cambodian superstition says that stepping over a woman’s legs will definitely increase your chances. Similarly, Filipino superstition says that if a pregnant woman hops over her husband, he will take on the discomforts of pregnancy such as morning sickness. Looks like the birds and bees talk is much more complicated than we thought.




Photo courtesy of

8) Shots, please?
If your husband stepped over your legs and you find yourself pregnant, you ought to start managing what you eat for the sake of the baby. Cambodian superstition takes this idea one step further. Apparently, if you drink coffee, your baby will have darker skin. On the other hand, if you drink alcohol, your baby will have lighter skin. Call me crazy, but I’m going to go ahead and say you should probably ignore that last suggestion about drinking alcohol while pregnant. That’s just my two cents.



Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

9) Ugly baby.
To every new parent, their baby is the cutest, most precious tiny human in existence. But according to Vietnamese, Thai and Indian superstition, you better not say that out loud because showing too much admiration for a baby will get the devil’s attention and he will take the desirable child away. In fact, some cultures suggest you call a baby ugly just to trick the devil. Talk about messing up someone’s self-esteem early. Mothers in India even put kohl on their baby’s face to make the baby look “imperfect.”



Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

10) Cat nap or snake nap?
Our final outrageous Asian superstition is one from Southeast Asia that warns you not to lie down after eating. Why? You will turn into a snake. That’s it. No explanation and no account of it ever happening, but this superstition still insists that you will literally turn into a snake. Japanese superstition says the same thing about lying down to nap after eating, but this time you turn into a cow, pig or elephant.



Feature image courtesy of

Julie Chen Admits to Having Plastic Surgery to Look Less Asian

Julie Chen, American television personality, news anchor, producer for CBS, and co-host of the daytime show The Talk, recently turned the spotlight on herself.

On Wednesday, Sept. 11, the veteran journalist revealed a deep, dark secret: Nearly 20 years ago, Chen had undergone plastic surgery in order to look less Asian.

Now, it may be easy to jump to conclusions and bash Chen for disrespecting her Chinese heritage, but it’s important to hear her side of the story. According to US Weekly, Chen said:

“My secret dates back to — my heart is racing — it dates back to when I was 25 years old and I was working as a local news reporter in Dayton, Ohio,” the 43-year-old Chinese American television personality began. “I asked my news director over the holidays, ‘If anchors want to take vacations, could I fill in?’ And he said, ‘You will never be on this anchor desk, because you’re Chinese.”




“He said, ‘Let’s face it, Julie, how relatable are you to our community? How big of an Asian community do we have in Dayton?'” she recalled. “‘On top of that, because of your heritage, because of your Asian eyes, sometimes I’ve noticed when you’re on camera and you’re interviewing someone, you look disinterested, you look bored.'”


Not long after, Chen started looking for another job. But she ran into the same problem when she tried to find an agent to represent her. “This one big-time agent basically told me the same thing,” she revealed. “He said, ‘I cannot represent you unless you get plastic surgery to make your eyes look bigger.'”

Chen explains that with her career on the line, she couldn’t see another solution. The decision became so weighty that she opened up to her parents about whether or not this surgery would be a denial of their culture. This led to a family divide where some members believed that Chen should be disowned.

Coming to the conclusion that she did not want to lose her career, Chen followed through with the surgery and her career progressed as a result.

Although the secret has haunted her and caused her to question a lot of things, she ultimately has no regrets. “No one’s more proud of being Chinese than I am,” she told her co-hosts at The Talk. “And I have to live with the decisions I’ve made. Every decision I’ve made … it got [me] to where we are today, and I’m not going to look back.”

Lee Hyori for “Dazed and Confused”: Appropriation or Appreciation?

Lee Hyori

As I was making my daily K-Pop news round-up, I couldn’t help but notice a photo of K-Pop diva Lee Hyori’s new cover for Dazed & Confused (Korea). Besides the interesting use wordplay and homonyms on the cover (“Beach Bitch”), what is most striking is the editorial concept used for the cover and accompanying editorial. Hyori is styled with face paint, a head dress and feathers, with her hair in two braids, supposed indicators of “Native American” dress, very reminiscent to Michelle Williams’ cover of AnOther magazine released earlier this year. At least for me, the “Indian Summer” concept (as indicated on the cover and is another issue in and of itself) is taken too literally and crosses the fine line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Hyori; she’s stunning and has an awesome personality (Family Outing, anyone?). It’s just disappointing that the editors of “Dazed” would allow this and that she, or at least her management, would agree to it. An editorial with summertime clothes wouldn’t have sufficed?

For me, the issue with this cover and with many other instances like this, is that traditional cultures are used like thematic costumes, with a lack of understanding about the cultures themselves. The beautiful, rich, and diverse culture of the Native American community is being diluted into a stereotype or simple archetype that assumes homogeneity. Or more simply put, photos and images like these re-emphasize the idea that all Native Americans are the same, which is blatantly inaccurate and culturally insensitive.

But, why does this even matter? It’s just a magazine, right? Well, not exactly. As put best by Metcalfe (Turtle Mountain Chippewa from North Dakota) in an article for Jezebel:

“There isn’t just one Native American culture. There are hundreds. And there are millions of Native people. And we’re being ignored. We’re being told that we don’t have rights over how we are represented in mainstream America. We are being told that we should ‘get over it’ – but the people who are saying this don’t even know what the issues are. When people know of us only as a ‘costume,’ or something you dress up as for Halloween or for a music video, then you stop thinking of us as people, and this is incredibly dangerous because everyday we fight for the basic human right to live our own lives without outsiders determining our fate or defining our identities.”

Though this particular cover is directly related to the Native American community, this is an issue that is not exclusive to them; for years, various cultures, including Asian cultures, have been and continue to be commodified into cultural products for mass consumption, and not necessarily for cultural understanding. Geisha costumes run rampant, Selena Gomez’s stage costume includes a bindi, and that’s just the tip of the metaphorical iceberg, the majority of which can’t be examined in this brief post. But, that difference between using culture as an aesthetic accessory versus using it as a tool for cognizance is what separates what is “okay” from “not okay.” More interestingly and more notably, the Korean cover itself proves that this issue extends much farther than the borders of the US and is a global issue.

Yes, cultural appropriation is a hot-button, sensitive topic.  But instances like these remind us of the continued importance of understanding and appreciating other’s histories, cultures and backgrounds for the simple, but powerful reason of respect. And as an increasingly global community, it’s even more important to view cultures, customs and dress that’s different from our own as more than just trend, but as an integral part of someone’s identity and history.

Pistahan Highlights Food, Boxing, Art, and More in Celebration of Filipino Culture

The Saturday afternoon parade was a grand moving showcase of Filipino customs and culture along with community (All photos by Karen Datangel).

Last weekend in San Francisco was a busy one with Outside Lands, baseball, and preseason football going on, but there was one other big event that brought more hustle and bustle to the city: The 19th Annual Pistahan Parade and Festival at Yerba Buena Gardens was also the only event where you could hear good music and watch a live sport at the same time, plus find the rare entertainment in watching people eat ice cream and duck eggs. Pistahan—which ran for two days on August 11th and 12th—is the largest street celebration of Filipino culture in San Francisco, and this year’s event broke some new ground as well as kept up with beloved traditions.

Continue reading