Residence: Los Angeles (from Glendora, California)
Date of Performance/Collection: April 23, 2013
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Mandarin Chinese, Shanghainese
“My grandma always says that you shouldn’t celebrate um, your birthday after it’s over because that will bring you bad luck for the year. You’re also supposed to eat um long noodles…or noodles because it symbolizes like…longevity of life.”
My informant heard this Chinese superstition from her maternal grandmother. She says she is her grandmother’s sole grandchild, and thus is the recipient of many of these superstitions. She describes her grandmother as someone who drops these superstitions occasionally into conversation as they come up or pertain to everyday life. When asked if she believes in them, she says sometimes she does, but only when she’s ‘feeling superstitious.’ I think this sort of attitude is a reflection of how belief works; it isn’t necessarily a black and white thing, but a spectrum. The noodle ritual also reminds me of New Year traditions like drinking champagne to bring prosperity for the coming year. It’s also interesting when juxtaposed with the blowing-of-the-candles tradition; whereas one extinguishes flame to symbolize years passing, the other involves eating as many long and unbroken noodles as possible to gather more time.