New Homes

“Our LoPing taught us that when you are building or buying a house, climb the steps leading to the front door saying oro (gold), for the first step, plata (silver) for the next one, and mata (death) for the third one and so on. The last step should be oro or plata, never mata which is considered bad luck. He also said the front door or gate should face the rising sun. When we move into a new home, my Ninong taught me to always bring rice and salt into the house before anything else. It’s a symbol for continuing prosperity (that we will never go hungry in that home).”

Background: The informant is a 60 year-old woman who was raised in a context where her entire extended family is deeply connected and often support their cousins, nieces, and nephews when they are moving into new homes.  These beliefs were given to the informant when she bought her first home for her family.

Context: This piece was told to me at our church’s weekly luncheon after our Sunday services.  Many of our relatives live locally, so the extended family has opportunities to see each other often.

Buying a new home is a huge deal for people in the informant’s extended family, as it serves as a sign that the individual has created a strong foundation for themselves and can now stand alone as a unit of the extended family.  Therefore, whenever someone buys a new home, members of the family and community often provide these guiding superstitions and beliefs in order to invite prosperity and wealth for the new household.  The informant was also raised to be frugal with their money, so prosperity, luck, and financial gain were important values to emphasize for when they bought a new home.