Folk Beliefs

Waking up the Dead

The informant was a high school classmate that graduated the same year as me and also is studying at USC. We met up for a snack at one of the cafes on campus and, then sat outside to catch up and exchange news and stories.


Informant

Specifically in Hawaii, you are not supposed whistle at night or walk on your knees at night. Supposedly, when you whistle, you are calling the dead, and if you walk on your knees, it is like walking on the bones and spirits of the dead and waking them up.

The informant learned these two superstitions from a close friend, N, who is very superstitious, and tells her all sorts of myths and legends relating to Hawaii, as well as things to watch out for or to not do.

The informant herself doesn’t completely buy into the superstitions, and has even whistled at night or walked on her knees at night and nothing bad has happened. People who are very religious, superstitious, or carry strong ancient beliefs, are more likely to take heed.

Background & Analysis

The informant was born and raised in Waimea town on the Big Island of Hawaii. N is a very close friend who is native Hawaiian, and her family is very traditional. Many of the stories and superstitions passed down through N’s family were shared with the informant over the years.

Even though I was raised in Hawaii, I had never heard of these two particular superstitions, so I was very excited when the informant shared them with me. In Hawaiian culture, there is a strong belief in ethereal spirits, especially evil or vengeful ones. These are probably just another two of many superstitions about the dead and the afterlife in Hawaii.

Comments are closed.

[geolocation]