“If an eyelash falls off of you, then what you should do is take it off and put it on your hair– on your head. And then, if you do that, that’s good luck. Very simple.” They look up in thought. “Or– let me think. It might be making a wish. Yeah, that’s right. You make a wish. It’s been awhile and I haven’t done it. It has to naturally fall off and it has to be on you. Like, usually it lands on your face, on your cheek.”
RELATIONSHIP – “My mom would just be like ‘Ah! Do this!’ And I was just like ‘Sure.’ I don’t think I ever really was too into it, but hey– it’s that thing with all wish-making rituals where people are like ‘Let’s do it anyway!’ Because who doesn’t want a wish coming true. I would always wish for stuff like… Well, it was always love stuff.”
WHERE THEY HEARD IT – “I think it was a ritual that my mother said when I was like five. And it was still something she would joke about when I was like eleven or twelve. I genuinely don’t know where she got it from– I would assume just her family. So it might be and Iranian thing, but I don’t think it is. She definitely doesn’t do that anymore.”
INTERPRETATION – “It’s kind of wild, ain’t it? I have no idea why it would be an eyelash, but there’s the one where you blow on it and you send that wish and part of you out into the world. But putting it on your head… a small hair going into big hair. It’s like growth, birth, or rebirth.”
The idea of using an eyelash to make a wish is common– as is using a part of one’s body as a means of magical sacrifice for the sake of making a wish happen. In terms of components, an eyelash is light and delicate which is frequent for the action of wishing upon an object, like shooting stars. The meaning behind it having to fall off rather than plucking it off is also a means of luck which might contribute to the wishful properties the eyelash is believed to hold. Placing it onto the top of one’s head seems to be a way to reclaim and internalize the wish, trying to keep it close rather than expelling it into the world– like casting the spell onto oneself.
“Whenever it would snow back when I was in school, everyone in the class would be like ‘Okay, guys. We have to flush ice cubes down the toilet so that we get a snow day.” They laughed. “It had to be snowing already. And if the next day came and we didn’t get a snow day, everyone would go around asking each other ‘Did you do it?’ And if someone didn’t, they’d be like ‘You!’,” they spoke the final word in an accusatory tone. “‘It’s your fault!'”
RELATIONSHIP – “It was just like, to me, a fun sort of get-together thing for us all to do. I also liked it because it was especially like ‘Yea! I have so much power. I’m gonna summon a snow day.’ I did it every time it snowed.”
WHERE THEY HEARD IT – “I heard it both from other kids in my school and also my parents. I think specifically from my mom. My dad didn’t know what it was. My dad didn’t grow up in Colorado, but my mom did.”
INTERPRETATION – “I sort of always knew it was fraudulent. It wasn’t going to work. But to me, and to all the other kids at school, it was kind of just like a nice ‘taking the opportunity to control something and you can’t normally control.'”
Relegated to locations that snow and have school days cancelled in the presence of large amounts of it, young children are likely to wish that they can have a valid way to skip school using this extreme weather. With the connection between ice cubes and snow, there’s something akin to rebirth in the way that the ice cubes are flushed for the purpose of being “recycled” into snow. Still, this is overall a fun community event that brings children together in their efforts, which may be reason for parents and teachers encouraging the behavior.
“My mom did this thing where…” They took a pause. “So, she’s not very good at whistling– along with a lot of other people in my family for some reason. But she can still somewhat whistle, and there’s this notion that whistling calls wind. So you would whistle in order to call wind. It’s like a folk thing because apparently this isn’t something that only my mom does. It’s something that my aunts and grandma and a lot of people in my family do. If you want wind, you whistle.”
RELATIONSHIP – “I sure do whistle a lot.” They laughed. “Just cause I like whistling… and it sure doesn’t work– as in, it sure isn’t constantly windy.” They pouted, jokingly, “It doesn’t always work. It’s not always windy and I whistle always.”
WHERE THEY HEARD IT – “It was just my mom. I was whistling one day and she was like ‘You know it calls wind.’ And then she tried to whistle. It wasn’t a very great whistle and it didn’t call wind.” They laughed. “I think I was very young. I was nine or ten when we had this conversation and it was a couple years after that when we went to the Philippines and I inquired other family members about it.”
INTERPRETATION – “It’s interesting to think about why– because in the Philippines wind comes in handy. ‘Cause, you know, it’s hot, and wind feels really nice especially, I assume if you’re working and doing manual labor related to farming and animals and crops. I can see where it comes from.”
There’s a certain magical quality to air and wind, like blowing candles to make a wish. Similarly, music, singing, and by proxy, whistling is a traditional performance that is believed to have a variety of effects. In the case of whistling, it’s a musical act that bares a resemblance to blowing air. The cooling effect of both blowing air and wind is linked together as a way to make one manageable by human means. There’s an inherent desire to control the workings of the world which is what paves the way for rituals that attempt to do so. In this case, specific to locations that are hot, the presence of wind is a comfort that people wish for.
The informant claimed that a lot of rituals they remember performing take place around the New Year. “One would be wearing polka dots or, as my mom calls it, bola bola. Because circles represent coins– so like wealth and good fortune in the New Year. She encourages literally everyone in my family to wear polka dots. There was one year where we all found Hawaiian shirts that had polka dots and so that was a little theme for the New Year. It was so cute.”
RELATIONSHIP – “Financially, it’s always been a little hope that my mom has– like a little bit of faith. Like ‘Maybe the New Year will be better for us financially.’ It’s a thing my mom does. She’s a very superstitious person, so she always has hope in the New Year. She always tries to bring the family together, so that hope can be spread to her family. And she can be surrounded by a similar hope as well.”
WHERE THEY HEARD IT – “My mom,” they spoke fondly. “It started being more prominent in middle school for me. That’s like the earliest I can remember. I she she kind of, like leans on these kinds of traditions when she feels like she needs it most. With doing a simple thing like wearing polka dots– I think around middle school was when we started facing a lot of financial issues very prominently. My mom is a woman in faith, so she finds comfort in so many different things.
INTERPRETATION – “[My mom] definitely uses it as like a comfort method for sure. Not really like a defense mechanism, but a ways to kind of like cope with certain things. Giving her that sense of nostalgia that I’m pretty sure she felt with her family growing up.”
Polka dots or bola bola are a popular pattern that’s believed to bring wealth and prosperity. This is similar to other beliefs that link prosperity to a particular color, but the complexity of a patterned fabric may be what warrants this belief. With the arrival of a New Year, it’s a common held belief that there will be changes made to one’s life whether it be fate or their own control. Wearing the polka dot pattern on the transition into a new year may be a way to “perform the part” that the participant wishes for themself to be. It’s almost like pretending to be what you’re not, and from then on, transforming into what was done for pretend.
Interspersed within their explanation of the ritual are frequent giggles as the informant looked back on performing this ritual.
“Something that happens on the night of New Year’s Eve– I guess it happens right at countdown. My family does this for years. My mom still does this. Right when it strikes midnight, we jump as high as we can several times until the first minute is done, so you can get taller in the New Year.”
RELATIONSHIP – “This is just really funny because my mom is 4’9″. I grew up doing it. I don’t know if it’s just a Filipino tradition… but it’s something that my family has been doing. I think it was something more prominent as I became a teenager because my mom is all about the holidays, so she says ‘Ah, just keep jumping! Show your excitement! Ah, the New Year!’ Of course, I don’t believe in it because I’ve been 5’1″ for several years.”
WHERE THEY HEARD IT – “My mom. I don’t remember the first time it happened. I think it was when I was really young, like when I was in Kindergarten. It was around when I was finally old enough to stay awake around midnight. I knew it was really early on in my elementary school years. I would jump, but my eye level wouldn’t go up that high.”
INTERPRETATION – “It’s just a silly little thing to do with your family to get enjoyment out of the celebration. It’s one of those traditions my mom does just to like, bring the family together. She grew up with nine other siblings so I’m sure a lot of family traditions happened a lot in her childhood, and she kind of wanted to transfer that to us– to her kids.”
This jumping ritual seems to stem off the belief that, with the New Year, comes hope for change. Tall height is seen as an attractive trait to have in many places, and it may be something that people wish for themselves to happen in the future. Especially in the case of younger children when it’s uncertain what height they’ll grow into yet, it feels like a number that’s malleable and subject to change, so it’s natural that people try to take matters into their own hands in an attempt to reach the height that they wish for themselves in the future. Eventually, the belief in it dies down as the participants grow older, but at that point it’s just a fun activity to do with the family and people around you on New Year’s Eve.