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Most Singaporeans grew up adhering to the lessons taught by our mothers and grandmothers. No matter the ethnic, culture, religion or age, everyone born and raised in this sunny island has heard their fair share of strange superstitions passed down from generation to generation.

Although these quirky beliefs can be rather irrational at times, they have now become a part of our daily lives. As much as I want to believe that such superstitions hold truth, after reaching a certain age we realise there were actually logical reasons behind them.

Come to think of it, it wasn’t very nice of our mothers to instil these superstitious beliefs in us at a young age. But it sure made me listen to my mother without any hesitation and it was for our own good!

Here are the craziest things I’ve heard from my family, relatives and friends.



#1. Sitting by the entrance of a door



Old Wives Tales: It is believed that it will bring you and the household bad luck.

Logical Reason: Stop blocking the way!



#2. Clipping your nails at night



Old Wives Tales: Clipping your nails at night will bring you bad luck.

Logical Reason: There weren’t any lights in the olden days, so clipping your nails in the dark might leave you with cuts. Clipping them during the day lessens the risks of injuring yourself.



#3. Showering very late at night



Old Wives Tales: Bad omen will fall upon you.

Logical Reason: Showering in a cooler/colder weather may increase the chances of you getting arthritis and/or rheumatism. 



#4. Singing in the shower



Old Wives Tales: You will not meet your soulmate.

Logical Reason: You will scare your soulmate away.



#5. Taking a photo of a sleeping person



Old Wives Tales: Snapping a picture of a sleeping person will capture their soul, leaving their body soul-less.

Logical Reason: I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t want a picture of my sleeping-self being shared on the internet.



#6. Pointing your finger at the moon



Old Wives Tales: The Chinese culture believes that there’s a mythological character living on the moon and pointing your finger at his direction is considered rude and you will get your ears cut off.

Logical Reason: Especially in Singapore, being able to see and actually point at the moon means that you are probably still out. This is a weird way for our mothers to say “Come home!”. 



#7. Washing your face, hands and feet upon entering your home



Old Wives Tales: Lingering spirits will follow you into your house if it is not done.

Logical Reason: This crazy belief is due to hygiene purposes. Imagine the bacteria and dirt accumulated on your hands by the end of the day. Urgh! I personally take a shower when I reach home.



#8. Washing your hands/feet after clipping your nails.



Old Wives Tales: If not done, you will get horrible nightmares.

Logical Reason: Again, this is due to hygiene. Remnants of your old nails can still be found on your fingers or toes in a form of dust. By washing them off, it will prevent you from accidentally inhaling or consuming that nasty “powder”.



#9. Opening an umbrella indoors



Old Wives Tales: It will bring you bad luck or attract a snake into your home, depending on different cultures.

Logical Reason: It is dangerous and you might end up hurting someone with the sharp edges.



#10. Covering your mouths when yawning



Old Wives Tales: Unwanted spirits will be able to enter us through our opened mouths.

Logical Reason: It is proper and hygienic to cover that open cavity. One, you will probably look silly with a wide open trap. Two, it will be embarrassing if you are in serious need of breath mints.



#11. Staring at photos of cute babies when pregnant



Old Wives Tales: By doing this, your baby will be born cute and pretty.

Logical Reason: Soon-to-be mothers ought to surround themselves with everything calm, serene and relaxing, for a smooth pregnancy. I think pictures of cute babies make me happy. 


#12. Sitting on your pillow



Old Wives Tales: It is believed that sitting on your pillow will cause you to have blisters on your butt. 

Logical Reason: There’s no other reason than your bum dirtying the pillow that you rest your head on every night.



#13. Eye Twitching



Old Wives Tales: It is believed that if your left eye twitches, you will receive bad news. The twitching on the right eye, on the other hand, will bring you good news,

Logical Reason: It is scientifically proven that when your eyes twitch, you are in need of a major sleeping session because you are tired. 



#14. Walking underneath the bamboo poles 



Old Wives Tales: Similar to walking under a ladder, it will either bring you bad luck.

Logical Reason: It can be dangerous to do so if the bamboo poles fall. 


#15. Finishing up every single grain of rice from your plate



Old Wives Tales: Not doing so will “curse” you to have a future spouse with a face full of pimples or, you will make the rice cry, depending on the culture.

Logical Reason: A way of teaching us not to waste food.



#16. Eating on the bed



Old Wives Tales: It is believed that it will make you extremely chubby.

Logical Reason: Firstly, you don’t want crumbs on your bed which might attract pests. Secondly, eating on the bed will also mean that you might lie down before allowing time for the food to be digested which is bad for your health.



#17. Straightening your legs out when sitting on the floor



Old Wives Tales: You will end up paralysed.

Logical Reason: Another one of those common sense reasons whereby you might cause someone injury when accidentally tripping him/her while they are walking in front of you.



#18. A new mother has to serve the confinement period for 30 days after the birth of her child



Old Wives Tales: Superstitious beliefs include rheumatism, migraines, an incurable infection and bad omen.

Logical Reason: Our body is at the weakest state after childbirth. The confinement period acts as a time out for the mother to rest and bond with her new born baby.



#19. Giving a clock to someone as a gift



Old Wives Tales: It is bad omen to gift someone with a clock because in Chinese culture as the Chinese characters for clock and death are similar. And gifting them a clock seems like you are sending the recipient to their death.

Logical Reason: Getting someone a clock as a present is just weird. Like cmon! He clearly did read our guide to 20 non-lame presents!



#20. Whistling in the middle of the night



Old Wives Tales: Whistling at night will attract the unwanted attention of lingering spirits which will end up hanging around you after.

Logical Reason: Don’t be the annoying neighbour.



Have something to add?


At the end of the day, our parents may have scared us into believing some of these old wives tales, but it was for our own good!!

What’s some of the craziest things you’ve heard when growing up? Let us know in the comments!

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