Tag Archives: hair

Korean Superstition – Hair cutting

It is bad luck to cut your hair or fingernails at night.

 

My informant first heard this superstition from his father some time during the late fifties in his hometown, the rural city of Daegu in Korea.  When he took out nail clippers from his drawer one night, his father ordered him to put it back in the drawer.  His father warned him that it was very bad luck to clip your nails at night.  Suk-Won’s father had learned from his father that at night crows lurk about and would pick up the discarded nails in their beaks and drop them off into the fields.  The nails would keep the seeds from sprouting and suck the nutrients out of the soil.  Afterwards there would be seasons without any good harvest.  The nails would have been easily accessible to the crows because Koreans who lived on farms during 1950’s and even now have paper doors that slide in their homes.  They do not have the hard wooden doors with knobs as we are accustomed to in America.

I do not believe that nails in the soil are detrimental to the growth of crops.  However, people in the countryside were sensitive about anything pertaining to their harvest because that was their only means of living.  Particularly living in the city nowhere near the action of agriculture, I do not heed this superstition at all since there.  Once again the Korean culture has an extremely negative view on the crow.  Farmers were superstitious that the crows would not only bring death through merely crowing in front of their homes but indirectly by preventing a successful harvest.

Superstition

“If a woman cuts her hair on a full moon, then it will grow back very quickly”

Joe is a friend of mine who works in my dad’s office. He is 20-years-old and was born and continues to live in Los Angeles. His mom, who was raised in the Tongan Islands, raised him with many superstitions, which he still follows today. Joe knows many superstitions, most of which I have never heard before. This one, about haircuts on full moons only applies to women. Joe and I had discussed that this is probably because the moon and all lunar activity are closely associated with women. Joe shared this superstition with me at my dad’s office and consequently other employees overheard our conversation. Not one other employee had heard of anything like this superstition, and neither had I. Joe takes these generational superstitions very seriously. Joe and his siblings were taught by his mother, who was taught by her mother, and so on. He wasn’t sure how many generations back this tradition went, but he was sure it was ancient.

Joe chose to share this superstition because it was something that  he grew-up with, his grandmother, mother, aunts, and sisters all based their hair cuts on the moon’s cycle. Though it doesn’t apply to him, this superstition has affected him his whole life.

This superstition is significant because it shows a long tradition of women being associated and affected by the moon. Joe explained that in the Tongan Islands, there are dances and songs dedicated to the moon usually performed by women. Sometimes the moon is negatively associated with madness, which is where we get the word “lunatic” from, but in this case, this superstition simply shows a correlation between the moon’s cycle and women. As the stages in the moon change, the length of hair changes.