Residence: Los Angeles (from Glendora, California)
Date of Performance/Collection: April 23, 2013
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Mandarin Chinese, Shanghainese
“Um…you shouldn’t put mirrors, a lot of mirrors or like mirrors in front of your bed or beside your bed. Because like, if you wake up and see yourself in the reflection you might like think that’s like a ghost or something and freak out. And have like a heart attack. Like when you wake up and it’s directly in front of you. It probably started as in you see a ghost but now it’s just like you think you see a ghost.”
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. This particular superstition is a precaution meant to ward off potential ghost sightings. The ‘ghost in mirror’ legend is a very common one (e.g. Bloody Mary), so this seems like a response to the popularity of that particular scary story and others like it.