Tag Archives: Superstitions

The Aswang/Tik Tik

Context:

My informant is a member of my family.

My informant said that the Aswang and the Tik Tik are stories about evil entities that live in the provinces in the Philippines. They are very rare that these stories of these entities are in Manila.

But her neighbors around would always talk about the aswang and the tik tik especially when there’s a pregnant woman in the neighborhood. Neighbors would speculate that this person or somebody in the household is pregnant because they saw the Tiktik/aswang lurking on the rooftop. Though they are similar because they can be both seen as Filipino vampires. The difference between them mostly come from the noise that the tik tik makes, which is the same as its name.

She said that when she was pregnant she would always kept a scissors under her pillow. “Because I wasn’t sure if l dreamt of it or if it was real, but I had a feeling that there was a tik tik Outside my window. The tik tik goes on the rooftop and is able to know if someone is pregnant or not. They will open their mouth and let their ling tongue penetrate the roofing until they reach the pregnant belly of the mom and eat/suck the baby out”. Which is why she is told to keep a pair of scissors with her during the night.

She believes these are stories that has been passed down to generations and probably a reminder that we are not alone in this world and that dark entities really exist. It’s relevant because somehow these stories are unique to certain provinces/places in the Philippines and somehow represents culture. Finally, she said that lot of people think it’s real. It would even sometimes be reported in the news if a sighting was witnessed. But there is no actual scientific evidence or photographic evidence or videos.

Analysis:

The tik tik and the aswang are a part of Filipino mythological folklore. But these creatures can be categorized as cryptids.

Filipino vampires, such as the Aswang and the Tik Tik are deceiving creatures. Although my informant does not mention it, these creatures could take the form of animals and even beautiful women. They are widely accepted as female creatures. But with the added context, this story serves as a cautionary tale for those that are vulnerable. Since the Philippines has a lot of provinces and poorer areas, the fear of these vampires is heightened. As they live among smaller communities and prey on pregnant women. The type of tale seems to subvert from the expectation because the tik tik and the aswang are gendered as women that prey on other women. It may be a message directed to women that their fear should not focus on predatory men, but that women or anyone can hurt them.

My informant’s experience with the fear of the aswang and the tik tik comes from being pregnant herself. Pregnant women may naturally fear any harm or danger that could come after their babies and their health. And the fear that a scary monster will hurt them is an extension to this natural motherly fear.

Chinese Green Hat Superstition

Context:

A, 18, is a student at USC. He is a French citizen of Chinese descent; he told me about how his mother would act when she found A wearing a green hat.

Text:

They say don’t ever wear a green hat because that means your partner cheats on you. One time I went home wearing a green hat and my mom was like “Take that off!” and she threw it in the trash. I asked her why and she said “If you wear that [a green hat] it means your partner or wife is going to cheat on you”; there are a bunch of beliefs like that in China.

Analysis:I did some research and found out that the reason for this superstition is that the phrase “wearing a green hat” sounds the same as the word “cuckold” in Chinese. Another apparent reason for this superstition is that during the Yuan dynasty, the relatives of prostitutes were forced to wear a green hat. In China, language and symbolism are connected, and superstitions formed around homophone words are very common.

New Year’s Traditions

Context 

SD is my close friend here at USC. Her parents are both from Columbia and immigrated to the US. Her mother is from Cartagena, Colombia, and immigrated to Newark, New Jersey, when she was sixteen. Her father is from Salento, Colombia, and immigrated to Clifton, New Jersey, when he was twenty. They all now reside in Orlando, Florida. 


Text

DO (interviewer): I’m interested to know if your family has any New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day traditions that you practice to ring in the new year?

SD: I think we have a couple different ones in my family. The first one has to do with grapes. With eating grapes. Basically, you get a bunch of grapes New Year’s Eve early in the morning. Then you wait until it’s ten minutes before the New Year comes. So 11:50. Then you start eating grapes. 

DO: Is there something specific that you do or say when eating the grapes? And what significance do the grapes have for your family’s New Year? 

SD: Yes! So. Each grape is the equivalent of one wish. So for each grape that you eat you’ll have one wish granted. So you just have to close your eyes and make a wish and really believe that the wish is gonna come true, then eat the grape and it’s done. 

DO: Nice. I like that. Are there any other traditions that you especially like? 

SD: I wouldn’t say that I like this one per say, but my sisters do. This one just says that you wear a specific color of underwear to sleep on New Year’s Eve and when you wake up on New Year’s Day the process to getting you that thing starts. *pauses* 


SD: Wait, that sounds confusing, let me reword that. Essentially, let’s say that you want to manifest love into your life. You’ll wear red underwear. And so on for all the colors. The colors go like this: yellow is money, green I think is more time outside or in nature, pink is friendship, white is peace, and blue is health. So you wear whatever color underwear to bed right. Then you wake up the next morning and lets keep with the red example. So you wake up the next morning and the universe or God or whatever you believe in is now making the path to get you a nice relationship.

DO: You mentioned that your sisters like this one a lot. How do you feel about it?

SD: I think I’m more of a grapes type of person. Honestly, I’ve been doing that one since I was a kid so I think to me it still has that spark of childhood magic to me. But the underwear thing seems like a scam to me. But who knows. 

Analysis

After speaking more with the informant, she said these beliefs came from her parent’s Colombian roots. In my family, we also share a similar tradition both with the grapes and the colored underwear, so I believe that this holiday tradition does have ties to Latinx folklore. The grapes can also be considered children’s folklore in this informant’s case. She mentioned how when she was younger, she started off performing these “rituals” so even if they may not actually grant her wishes, she chooses to continue to do so. This shows the importance of children’s folklore and the types of impressions that it leaves on us as we continue to grow. Sometimes things that we consider “magic” as children continue to be a connection to that feeling as we age. 

Don’t be Born on Eclipses

Background: The informant is a 50 year old man. He was born in Tecate, Mexico, moving to California when he was young. He grew up with his four siblings and two parents, moving from location to location across California. He currently lives in Los Angeles, California. 

Context: The context was when watching an astronomy show together on a streaming platform. They made a mention of an eclipse.

Text:

UI: Now, one superstition that I grew up with, that I was very well aware of and it’s going to sound completely strange, is that pregnant women should not go outside when there’s an eclipse. If a pregnant woman is outside during the time of an eclipse like that somehow or other, because of the eclipse, that the baby will be born deformed. Now, the thing with the eclipse is that, in actual fact, I don’t really know how it works. I don’t know if it’s because, you know, maybe the rays of the sun get distorted or, you know, I mean look in aztec culture they would look at it [eclipses] when they occurred. During the times of the Aztecs it was sort of like,  the moon is fighting with the sun and and the sun is overcoming the moon, It’s just something I’ve always remembered as a kid.

Me: Who did you hear it from?

UI: I had heard it from my mom. I had heard it from friends.

Me: What about when your wife was pregnant?

UI: There was an eclipse, and after explaining it to her, she understood and stayed inside.

Analysis:

Informant: The informant understands that the superstition may be considered strange by many people, self-aware that the superstition may not be well spread throughout his family. However, it is clear that the informant still believes in superstition to a strong degree.

Mine: The superstition was something new to me. It reveals a few things about Mexican culture. The first is the protective nature over pregnant women and the baby they are carrying. Since women are treated very delicately by this superstition, it would be interesting to see how it compares with other Mexican folkloric ideas. Second, not wanting the women to be exposed during an eclipse so that the baby will not be deformed shows a societal, not just Mexican, belief against children who are not born healthy. It has some negative connotations that a baby with defects is not wanted. However, that is a more modern interpretation of the superstition, and placing it into a past time period, many women used to die during childhood or their children would die when extremely young. Anything would want to be done to protect the child and the mother. If a baby does have deformities, it could ned up hurting the mother or the child might not live for long, which was extremely concerning.

The Legend of Macbeth

Folklore/ Text: “Macbeth!”

KM: Uttering the word “Macbeth” within a theatrical setting immediately brings bad luck to your day. This legend dates back to the early 1600s during the first-ever performance of Macbeth. The actor that was intended to portray Lady Macbeth suddenly passed away before the show, forcing Shakespeare himself to play the part. Later, the person playing King Duncan was stabbed with an actual dagger, and killed in front of a live audience. Many more unfortunate events like riots and murders have occurred during the runs of Macbeth, upholding the strange folklore surrounding the play. The only remedy is to exit the theater after saying the word, spin around three times, spit over your left shoulder, and either swear or recite a line of Shakespeare dialogue.  

Explanation/ Context: After over 400 years of Macbeth being performed on stages all over the world, the continuous accidents and occurrences further exemplify the grim lore of the play. It’s almost common knowledge that the word is cursed, whether you’re involved in theatre or not. No accidents are the same, but somehow exclusively happen during performances of Macbeth. When something goes wrong– someone said “Macbeth!” Even the remedy is widely known and allegedly stops oncoming.