I was making dumplings in the kitchen when my corridor mate walked in and sat down to have a little chat with me.
All of a sudden, I spilt the salt over the table. At that moment I just swept the salt off the table without any hesitation, but my corridor mate told me that I should throw the spilt salt over my left shoulder, otherwise it would bring me bad luck. She explained that in the Netherlands, throwing split salt over your shoulder symbolizes throwing it on evil’s face. We continued to talk about some other superstitions about actions that bring misfortune, such as putting your shoes on the table.
Surprisingly, although Holland is quite a long way from Taiwan, we do have some superstitions in common, like the beliefs that seeing a black cat and opening an umbrella indoors brings bad luck. There are also some superstitions about things that bring good luck. During the Chinese New Year, when we break something accidentally we quickly say a word which means ‘shatter’ and also means ‘good luck for the coming years’. So it brings good luck. However, the opposite applies in western cultures, especially when it comes to broken mirrors.
Although, nowadays maybe most of the young people do not really care about these superstitions, it is still quite interesting to know what we were once taught in our childhood.
Yu-Fang Chen, Taiwan, MSc student of Sustainable Food Processing Engineering