“Every person has a specific birthdate and time of birth. You are not suppose to give away this information because with your birth date (Lunar calendar birth date) and time of birth, a person can cause harm to you because it is a unique part of your being.”
The informant is originally from Ohio and moved to Los Angeles, California after pursuing her undergraduate education. She comes from a predominant Chinese background, where she learned the language growing up and lived in a Chinese-oriented neighborhood. Although, she claims that she does not use the language herself or live by traditional Chinese customs. She told me about this superstition after I had, unknowingly, disclosed my date and time of birth to a member of my laboratory. Although, it was ironic because she disclosed hers as well. She learned it from her parents and performs it (for the most part) for the sake of respecting the demands of her parents and Chinese customs. A big part of Chinese culture includes a vast number of superstitions and beliefs, as the informant had mentioned. It was particularly compelling, because she believed it to be a form of voodoo. The superstition is originally recited in Mandarin, but the informant provided a translated version.
While many Chinese people today many not believe in the “do’s and dont’s” of their superstitions, it seems they are still practiced because it provides continuity with the past and provides each family with an identity. Alternatively, it appears that Chinese parents instill these superstitions in their children as a way of teaching them moral lessons and etiquette for purposes of everyday life. The idea of relating it to voodoo was also interesting, because superstitions often have negative connotations in order to place emphasis on the “wrong” so that it can be avoided. The “wrong” in this case would be a person attempting to take advantage of another person.