Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Having a cultural background rich in ancient traditions is a wonderful thing; living within the Canadian modern age makes it a bit of a mixed blessing. Or a confused blessing - does logic and science override the tales and superstitions of the old country? Or was there really something there to begin with to propagate centuries-old myths and beliefs?

You guessed it, we just celebrated a new Chinese Lunar Year - Year of the Pig! Good year, pigs are smart animals, don't do much, just eat, stay out of trouble and roll around in the mud all day. My parents hosted the traditional meal at their condo with all us kids and spouses (and my kids). Got L into his traditional "kung fu" top (very cool) but G would go nowhere near her beautiful outfit.

Mom brought out all the goodies - shrimp, Alaskan crab, lamb, Chinese sausage and we all dove into the meal - except my sister and sister-in-law, both expecting their first babies and on very restricted diets and lifestyles courtesy of Chinese superstition. The shrimp and crab I get (filter feeders), and the sausage (just plain fatty) but I don't know what the deal is with the lamb. It's actually more the lifestyle that has been curbed with the primary rule as follows:

Absolutely NO moving anything around the house, no bringing into or setting up of new furniture. Not even a nail in the wall. No new beds, mattresses. No construction allowed anywhere. Why? It's just bad luck.

This was courtesy of my oldest aunt, the keeper of all the rules and traditions. My mom doesn't know what they all are, and goes to my aunt for guidance. Funny, my mom's a nurse and midwife, trained in London and Boston before coming to Canada and practicing here until her retirement. (Actually Ian still can't believe that based on some of her logic, but that's another story).

Here lies the problem - my sister's an architect. She lives and breathes construction. Oh, but that's OK as long as it's nowhere near her own home. Oh, and how about the fact that yours truly actually packed and moved house while 2 months pregnant with L? But that was OK because I was moving into my parents' place until we found a new house. I was in a new bed, but that too was OK because it wasn't really MY bed. As long as I was nowhere near the house when Ian dismantled our marriage bed everything was fine (not that Liam was conceived there, but again, another story).

So brother and sister-in-law were actually renovating their kitchen before they found out they were expecting - but that's all right too, because what they didn't know won't hurt them.

It's so funny, the rules change seemingly with the wind. I mean the funniest thing was when we were shopping for houses. The number "4" is not good to have as a house number as it sounds like "death" in Chinese. So we had to avoid all houses with the number 4 in them, unless they were paired with another number to "nullify" the bad feng shui. For example (34, which sounds like "life/death"). But in our case it wouldn't have mattered so much because Ian is Caucasian, so it doesn't really count in our case as it isn't a fully Chinese household. Again, the twisting, turning rules!

Common sense says that you should get all your renovating done before the baby's here, especially because of the dust, paint etc... and what about setting up the beautiful nursery? What a dilemma! Glad I don't have to go through any of that again.

Ian's got the best solution. Do everything you want .... just don't tell anyone! Easy for him to say - he's not Chinese !!!


Chrissy121875 said...

LOL! That was such a great post! I can totally relate! My Dad's Chinese and I really miss those Chinese traditions and superstitions that my grandmother loves so much!

BTW, when I taught in Japan, I lived on the 4th floor. Everyone was really upset and wanted me to get another apartment because 4 sounds like "death"!!! Needless to say, I didn't change apartments and I'm fine...I think!

My husband is also Caucasian and he thinks the whole culture/traditions/superstitions are really fascinating.

Great blog. Found you via my friend Dina's site.

Karen MEG said...

Thanks for stopping by Chrissy - I love blogging - just find it hard to find the time these days (wonder why). I've stopped by your spot too via Dina's - LOVE your blog!

Dina said...

reading about all the Chinese traditions reminded me of many of the Jewish superstitions and traditions. We also are not supposed to buy anything for the baby before it's born-bad luck, not get the room ready or even tell anyone before the 3 month of pregnancy. We had the room sort of ready (well it's still in midst of being completed and Elie is 8 months now) and I did buy a few things because there was no way I wanted to leave everything up to hubby while i was in the hospital recovering...i think superstitions really depend on what you want to believe not what really happens IMO...

Kami said...

How facinating but I bet it can also be kind of a thorn in one's side.

I like that the rules can be bent though, flexible rules are good ones if you ask me :-)


Blog Widget by LinkWithin