Flipping the Fish

The informant is of Chinese descent and shared this piece at my request. It was an informal environment.


Why is it improper to flip over a fish as you eat from it?


“Oh okay so, back in the, um olden days in China when fishermen were on their ships, they wouldn’t flip over the fish when they eat- ate it because it would give a bad omen and possibly flip their own ship over. So when you eat the fish, you don’t, um flip it over; you have to pull off the spine and just continue eating it.”

This is an example of homeopathic magic, where like produces like. As we discussed in class, professions where chance plays a large role tend to have a lot of superstitions. This particular case is interesting because the informant and their family are not fishermen, and neither are most of the people that does it. Whether their boat would flip over is of little actual concern to them. Having said that, I think it became more of a habit for people than anything.