Shaking Off the Luck


Shaking your leg at the dining table shakes off good fortune.


As a child, KF would unconsciously shake her leg up and down while sitting at the dining table. However, her mother would always tell her to “stop doing that because it basically means that, like–it’s thought to be that you’re shaking off your good luck and wealth.” After the interview, KF took to the Internet to see if this was a typical Chinese superstition or just something her family believed in. Based on her findings, this is a well-known Chinese belief, where leg shaking will result in a hard life trying to provide an income for yourself.


The meanings behind gestures go beyond surface level; they can be forms of communication or acts of summoning/getting rid of. Folk gestures often refer to performed gestures, such as a handshake or a secret code, but they can also involve gestures that are strictly avoided to banish bad luck. To some people, including myself, shaking your leg while sitting still is second nature. We often don’t think twice about its implications. However, for those who believe in its effects, there is a conscious awareness behind what their legs are doing. Shaking your leg is often associated with the idea of restlessness–perhaps it could be interpreted as feelings of anxiousness in the present, which hinders a successful future. Not only does verbal speech reflect the ideologies and superstitions of a particular group, but so does physical behavior or lack thereof. Our body is a vehicle that we rely on for life and prosperity–legs are our foundation, as they walk us through life’s path. Thus, in order to ensure a fulfilling life, we need our base to be sturdy. In broader terms, folklore that is reliant upon bodily functions may enable us to reflect on our sense of self and autonomy–in fact, we may have some control over how the course of our life unravels.