In honor of Friday the 13th, I told my students about a few American superstitions: walking under a ladder, umbrellas indoors, black cats crossing your path, lack of 13th floors in America. One of their favorite things to do, and I believe this is a common discovery amongst English teachers in Korea, is compare Korean and western cultures. Food, folktales, high school life, and now superstitions. Now I’m starting to enjoy it as well. I also had them teach me a few. About 90% of them involved how to avoid interactions with ghosts…someone’s paranoid! Here are some of my favorites:
If a boyfriend buys shoes for his girlfriend, she’ll dump him. (This doesn’t count for couple-shoes, I asked.)
Don’t play the flute at night.
Push your chair under your desk before going to bed, or else a ghost will come sit in it for the night.
You must sleep with your hair in a ponytail, or else a ghost will come and count your hair strands. If you don’t wake up before he’s done, you’ll die.
If you move to a new house, sleep upside down.
If you hold your chopsticks at the top (longly), you’ll marry someone far away.
Don’t throw clipped nails into a fire.
Don’t sleep with your head towards the bathroom.
Pigs in a dream are good luck!
Red bean scares away ghosts.
After a funeral, people throw salt at you before coming back into a house.