Superstition – Asia

“Like you know people usually go like this all the time (she is sitting and shaking one of her legs up and down) you know it’s like a bad habit and your parents tell you to stop because it’s like your shaking your luck and money away.”

Samantha heard this superstition from her mother and her relatives when she was in kindergarten, living in Singapore. The superstition is said when people shake their legs because they are anxious, bored or just out of habit. For example, when Samantha sees her friend shaking his or her leg during class, she will tell him or her to stop because it is bad luck. The superstition spread because her parents told it to her when she was little and then she would tell her friends when she grew up. She also says that she will most likely share this with her children if she has any. This is an example of Carl von Sydow’s transition between passive and active bearers of folklore. Samantha was once a passive bearer as she listened to what her parents said and then she became an active bearer when she started telling it to other people. She thinks that its origins come from mainly bad manners, so parents will tell their children this to scare them because they do not want to be poor when they are older.

This superstition is widely held within the Asian community because my Korean, Japanese and Chinese friends all know about this. I think that since Asian families are very superstitious and focused on doing well in the future, they use luck and money as the main components of this belief. The theme of luck and achieving or losing luck is very prominent in Asian cultures. For Lunar New Year celebrations, many traditions incorporate the theme of obtaining and keeping luck, while getting rid of evil spirits. Many Asian superstitions follow these general themes and they mostly deal with luck. It reveals a part of what Asians believe in by focusing on luck and money.

I agree with all of these ideas of the origin of the superstition, but I also believe that it was started to stop children from engaging in this irritating action. Not only is it impolite to do it at a dinner table, it is also quite annoying for the person in the general vicinity of the person. In class, if a classmate is shaking his leg, it can be very disruptive to other students. I do not think that this superstition is only limited to children because it is incredibly applicable to adults. Adults have more awareness of what they are doing and so, they would be able to control their actions better. This superstition would be most effective for people who grew up in an Asian household because they would understand the value of luck and prosperity. I was taught to do things a certain way so that I would have a better future. It was all based off of luck and the idea that what we do now would affect us in the future. If we shake our legs now, then we will lose the potential to be wealthy in the future.