Folk Belief – Hong Kong, China

“Never place your chopsticks in your bowl so that they stick out from the bottom. It brings bad luck; you should put them on top of your bowl lying horizontally or beside your bowl”

I had to be reminded by informant during many meal times. The bad luck that this action brings is death upon yourself or your family. This superstition is important to the informant as she had learned it from her parents and everyone in her culture knows not to do this and considers it common practice. Only people who are completely out of touch with any Asian culture would be unaware of this superstition. As I learned about this practice in Hong Kong, it must be emphasized that this practice is prevalent in all of Asia, or most likely, any country where chopsticks are used during mealtimes. My informant tells me that the placing of the chopsticks into a food bowl, resembles the Buddhist practice of placing incense sticks into sand pits at altars, shrines and graves. Therefore, in mimicking that tradition which is only to be carried out in a religious and spiritual context, i.e. when offerings are made, you are invoking evil spirits who would in turn bring harm to you. I find this very important because I have never been able to drop this practice ever since. Although I do not do it out of superstition, I have adopted this habit merely to be respectful to others around me. This thus would bring a new meaning as to why I carry out a certain practice compared with someone else.