Why do the Chinese call themselves turtles

Old ideas - new China?

Each culture has its own unique superstition (迷信 míxìn), and China is no different. At first glance, many Chinese appear to be very "westernized" and modern. Despite this, many will still seek help from a fortune teller, choose special numbers that are supposed to bring one luck. Feng Shui experts are also very often employed. Many Chinese take Feng Shui very seriously, so the house or office must be arranged in the right way for happiness and success in life.

When it comes to good luck, the magic number in China is 8. You can come across this number anywhere in China. Why? The eight sounds similar to the word for prosperity / wealth (八 bā / 發 fā). If you remember the Olympic Games in Beijing, it is no coincidence that the Games started at 8:08 am on August 8th, 2008. Starting at this exact time should bring everyone the best of luck. When people in China dial phone numbers, cell phone numbers, house numbers, important appointments, or other numbers, 8 is usually the first choice. In return, people like to dig deep into their pockets.

But if it is more about superstition, then despite the modernity in China, you will rarely find a Chinese who would cut his fingernails in the dark. This only happens in daylight. According to an old tradition, evil spirits can penetrate the body via the fresh "interface" at night and that is what we would like to avoid.

Another example of superstition is the Yuè zi - A Month of Postnatal Inactivity. Birth is a special event that is celebrated differently all over the world and is associated with different traditions. At “Yuè zi (月 子)” the mother takes a month off in China. Now you probably think that if you take it easy after giving birth, that makes sense, right? In China, however, the yuè zi is a time full of regulations, requirements and prohibitions for the new mother. The mothers are not allowed to leave the house for a month. In addition, it is prescribed what the mother can and cannot eat. Usually a bland rice and pork stew. In addition, mothers are not allowed to take a shower for a whole month, as this is considered a cold risk. The reasoning behind Yuè zi is that mothers are particularly susceptible to colds and illnesses shortly after giving birth. Some even go so far that the new mothers are not allowed to brush their teeth. The yuè zi is still a compulsory program in most Chinese families and is required by the grandmother, even if many of the yuè zi guidelines and procedures seem out of date today.

Popular belief
There are a multitude of Chinese folk beliefs and a pronounced fear of ghosts, which many Chinese continue to believe in and often orient their own lives accordingly. In order to get a better overview of this very deeply rooted popular belief and so that you as a “Westerner” can get a better idea of ​​it, we have listed the most important superstitions and fear of ghosts in the Chinese world:

  • It is believed that if a dog howls for a few hours late at night, it means that someone has died somewhere.
  • It is another superstitious Chinese belief that if one has a dream about teeth or snow, it is a warning that one's parents are about to die.
  • When a baby cries for no reason, it is believed that there are ghosts that are disturbing the child.
  • Another firmly anchored superstition is that your family would be ruined if your house was built to face north rather than south.
  • If you marry someone who is either three or six years older or younger than you, that would be very bad and it would be bad luck to be together.
  • The Chinese believe that cutting toenails or fingernails at night would attract ghosts and allow them to enter the body unhindered.
  • Another popular belief is that if one has a pet turtle and encloses it, it will ruin one's business and happiness because the turtle will slow down one's business. Therefore you should make sure that your own turtles have enough exercise.
  • In another Chinese superstition, the Chinese don't sweep during New Year because if you did, you would sweep away all happiness.
  • Eating noodles in China can prolong life, according to popular belief. The longer the noodles are in the soup, the better for a long life. Whoever cuts his pasta will shorten his life.
  • During pregnancy, the pregnant woman must not come into contact with dogs, as this is harmful to the unborn child. One reason why the family dog ​​is simply put on the street at the beginning of the pregnancy.

A very pronounced orientation of the Chinese culture is on the “here and now” as well as the Confucian “this world principle”. While in the western religions the focus is more on a better life after death - the “afterlife principle”, Chinese people prefer a long life and wealth. In China, death is not talked about either, as this is a taboo subject. The focus is all the more on the longevity of the current life. Hardly any other term has as many symbols in China as “longevity”. For example, the deer, long noodles for a birthday, the peach or crane stand for longevity.

Although the subject of death is avoided in Chinese culture, there is still a very pronounced ancestor cult in China. Here, the “ancestor” ceremonially burns offerings that are to benefit the ancestors in the afterlife. Paper money, paper cell phones, paper cars or whatever can be useful for the ancestors are burned. But this serves primarily as a prevention and defense against the souls of the deceased and not for veneration. Because if the ancestors are dissatisfied, then they could appear in the "here and now" and cause trouble. You have to avoid this in any case and that is why a male descendant is so important in China, because according to ancient belief the ancestor cult can only be performed by a son.

Because of the worldly nature and negative experiences in recent Chinese history (famines, crop failures, civil wars, etc.), people in China prefer to live in the present and do not like to plan far into the future. Material desires are also in the foreground. One wishes primarily for wealth and a lucrative position as well as a son or "ten thousand times" happiness. The pronounced appreciation of food and the demonstrative consumption also reflect this. Entertaining success and "quick money" are often in the foreground, as you can never be so sure about the future.

Author: Daniele Bardaro