Tag Archives: prosperity

A Coincidental Blessing

“100 Years”

When both she and her mother call each other at the same time, the first thing that is said on the phone is “100 years”. This person is a part the Hindu Culture and this phrase represents a blessing to her and her family; 100 years of prosperity, as I was thinking of you and you were thinking of me.

Initially, I did not understand what the phrase “100 years” meant and how it could be a blessing in the context of a phone call. However, my initial interpretation was that it could mean “what are the odds?”, like something that only happens once every 100 years. Both her and her mother thinking of each other and the same time and calling each other in that moment is an amazing coincidence, thus rare. This phrase holds a symbolic value in her culture, showing a spiritual connection between her and her mother, and in a greater perspective, demonstrates the value of family and interconnectedness in Hinduism. Additionally, this also shows a shared ritual between family members which is a common motif among folklore tradition, which serves to exhibit a connection to heritage and ancestors. A phrase being passed down throughout generations plays in many folklore contexts, and I believe, is the basis of what makes folklore, folklore.

New House Ritual

text: “In Filipino culture, when you move into a new house, you put coins in the corner of every room in that new house. This supposedly brings prosperity and good fortune for your new chapter in life.” – Informant

context: This superstition/ritual was learned from the informant’s grandmother on his Filipino side. She learned this from her parents whenever they moved houses and passed it down to her son, the informant’s father. It is a huge part of Filipino culture, and the informant stated that superstitions are also huge in his culture. In Filipino culture, money is the biggest part of becoming successful, therefore, putting coins in the corners of rooms can act as a way of helping one achieve that wealth.

analysis: This is both a tradition and a superstition because it is passed down from generations, but also used to supposedly bring prosperity. When moving into a new house, it seems like a way to make it your own and ward off any negative energy. Everyone wants to be successful and there are coins are a huge motif to display that.

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.

Yusheng for Chinese New Year

Informant Bio: Informant is a friend and fellow business major.  She is a junior at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.  Her family is from China but she has lived in Southern California for nearly all of her life.  Her dad spends lots of time working in Shenzhen.  She speaks fluent Mandarin and English.


Context: I was talking with the informant about traditions and rituals her family has.


Item: “For Chinese New Year my family usually gets together.  Traditionally, ever since I can remember, the adults have given kids red envelopes filled with money, and, we always have specific foods that translate to specific proverbs like good fortune and good health.  An example would be, having, um fish, because “Nian nian you yu” means abundance throughout the years, but the last word ‘yu’ means abundance but also means fish.  They are two completely different words but have the same pronunciation.  And, a couple of other things we would say is, “Gong Xi Fa Cai” which means ‘congratulations for your wealth’, “Wan Shu Ru Yi” which means ‘may all your wishes be fulfilled’.


Sometimes our family does follow this tradition but we don’t follow it too strictly, but there should be a placing order in how you bring the different foods to the tables.  You’re also supposed to say phrases with the addition of each ingredient such as pepper or lime or oil.  Uh, some of the themes touch upon wealth, luck, youth and business success or advancement.  That’s basically one specific dish but there are other flourless cakes that basically expands as you cook it.  It kind of symbolizes growth for kids especially.  Our family also hangs specific square red banners that has the word “Chūnmeaning ‘spring’.  We’d flip it upside down because when you flip it it means ‘dao’, or ‘it is here’ like ‘spring is here’.  We also do that with ‘fu’ which means prosperity, so prosperity it is here”.

Analysis: Chinese New Year really seems to revolve around luck, prosperity and happiness for the new year.  The props used – which vary from clothing to food eaten to the number of dishes served all are meant to be congruent with Chinese lore and beliefs.  The number 8 means good luck so things are done in eights, the color red is lucky so red is shown often and new, clean things are seen as ushering in good luck for the coming year.  There is a cyclical nature in Chinese/Eastern thought that we do not have here in the West.  The coming of the new year, though celebrated here, doesn’t truly entail the “reset” that it does in China.  This may be in part due to the fact that the Chinese civilization has been around for over four millenia (most of which they were relatively isolated), so they’ve seen a much longer time span of existence than most other cultures.  As such they’ve seen empires rise and fall, other warring worlds, and geographies change but still remain, which may contribute to their more cyclical way of thinking as opposed to the U.S.  There also seems to be very set things that are done in a precise process each new year celebration.  This is in contrast to many of the U.S. informants I interviewed who admitted a much more diverse and relaxed understanding of rituals and traditions.