What do Filipino superstitions really mean? As a culture rich in history and traditions, the Philippines has a wide range of superstitions that are still practiced today. These beliefs and practices often reflect the values and unique perspectives of the Filipino people.
In this article, we will dive into the world of Filipino superstitions, exploring their origins, meanings, and the reasons why they persist in modern Filipino society. Whether you’re a curious traveler or someone wanting to understand Filipino culture better, join us as we unravel the mysteries behind these fascinating beliefs and practices.
What are Filipino Superstitions?
Filipino superstitions are a collection of traditional beliefs and practices that have been passed down through generations. They play a significant role in the culture and daily lives of many Filipinos, shaping their actions and decisions. Superstitions in the Philippines often revolve around various aspects of life, such as birth, marriage, death, luck, and protection against evil spirits. While some may view these superstitions as mere folklore, many Filipinos hold them with deep reverence and continue to follow them to this day.
Historical and Cultural Background of Filipino Superstitions
Filipino superstitions have deep historical and cultural roots that can be traced back to the country’s indigenous beliefs, as well as influences from various cultures and religions. These beliefs and practices have been passed down through generations and are still prevalent in Filipino society today.
Before the arrival of Spanish colonizers in the Philippines, indigenous tribes had their own set of superstitions based on their animistic beliefs. These beliefs revolved around the worship of nature spirits and ancestors, with the belief that certain actions or objects had the power to bring good fortune or ward off evil spirits.
Influence of Spanish Colonization
Spanish colonization greatly influenced Filipino superstitions, as the Spanish brought with them their own set of beliefs and practices from Catholicism. Consequently, many Filipino superstitions today have a blend of indigenous and Catholic elements. For example, the belief in spirits or duwende is a remnant of indigenous beliefs, while the use of holy water or rosaries for protection is influenced by Catholicism.
Chinese and Asian Influences
The Philippines has a long history of trade and cultural exchange with China and other Asian countries, resulting in the incorporation of Chinese and Asian superstitions into Filipino culture. Feng shui, for instance, is widely practiced in the Philippines, with many people consulting feng shui masters for guidance in various aspects of life, such as home design and business ventures.
Superstitions and Everyday Life
Filipino superstitions are deeply ingrained in everyday life and are often observed by both young and old. From avoiding the number thirteen to refraining from cutting nails at night, these beliefs have become part of Filipino culture and customs. They are believed to bring good luck, protect against evil, or prevent unfortunate events from occurring.
Understanding the historical and cultural background of Filipino superstitions provides insights into the rich tapestry of beliefs and practices that shape the Filipino identity and way of life. These superstitions continue to hold significance and provide a unique lens through which to view Filipino culture.
Common Filipino Superstitions and their Meanings
Filipino culture is rich in superstitions, with people holding various beliefs and practices passed down from generation to generation. These superstitions often reflect a mix of indigenous, Spanish, and Chinese influences. While some may dismiss them as mere superstition, these beliefs hold significance for many Filipinos and continue to shape their daily lives. Here are some common Filipino superstitions and their meanings:
- Pamahiin sa Binyag: During a baptismal ceremony, it is customary to have a “ninong” or “ninang” (godfather or godmother) who will serve as a guide and spiritual mentor to the child.
- Pagmimisa ng Alimuom: It is believed that pregnant women should avoid attending funerals or entering cemeteries to protect the health and well-being of both the mother and the unborn child.
- Pagkakalat ng Asin: Sprinkling salt around the premises of a new house is believed to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck to the homeowners.
- Tatsulok na Bato: Placing three small stones or pebbles in a pot of rice before cooking is said to attract prosperity and abundance to the household.
- Don’t Sweep at Night: Sweeping the floor at night is believed to sweep away good luck or invite bad energy into the home. It is advised to wait until the morning to do any sweeping.
- Avoid Sitting at the Corner of the Table: Sitting at the corner of the dining table is believed to bring bad luck, as it is associated with being single or never getting married.
- Takot sa Usog: It is believed that someone who admires or compliments a child without touching them may cause the child to become ill. To prevent this, a small amount of saliva or oil may be applied to the child’s forehead or clothes as protection.
These superstitions are deeply ingrained in Filipino culture and have become a part of everyday life for many Filipinos. While some may see them as mere folklore, they continue to shape beliefs and practices, offering comfort and guidance in different aspects of life.
Superstitions Related to Birth and Pregnancy
In Filipino culture, there are various superstitions and beliefs surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. These superstitions have been passed down through generations and are deeply rooted in traditional practices. While some may view these beliefs as mere folklore, others may still adhere to them out of respect for culture and tradition. Here are some common superstitions related to birth and pregnancy:
Superstitions Related to Marriage and Love
Filipino culture is rich with superstitions and beliefs surrounding marriage and love. These superstitions often reflect the desire for a happy and successful union. Here are some common superstitions and their meanings:
- Wedding Date Selection: Choosing the right date is crucial to ensure a prosperous and harmonious marriage. Some couples consult astrologers or fortunetellers to determine an auspicious wedding date based on the alignment of the stars and lunar calendar.
- Two Weddings in a Day: It is generally believed that two weddings should not take place on the same day as it may bring bad luck to both couples. It is said that the second couple to get married will likely experience troubles or challenges in their married life.
- Prenuptial Rituals: Many traditional Filipino weddings involve prenuptial rituals believed to bring blessings and ward off evil spirits. These rituals often include the lighting of candles, sprinkling of holy water, and the offering of prayers for a blissful marriage.
- Use of Good Luck Charms: To attract good fortune, many couples incorporate specific items or symbols into their wedding attire or ceremony. It could be something old, something new, something borrowed, or something blue.
- Bride’s Wedding Dress: It is believed that a bride should not try on her complete wedding dress before the wedding day, as doing so may bring difficulties or delays to the marriage. Instead, she should only try on the dress partially or make adjustments after the final fitting.
- Veil and Cord Traditions: The placing of a veil over the bride’s head and the binding of the couple’s hands with a cord during the wedding ceremony symbolizes unity and the couple’s commitment to support and care for one another throughout their married life.
- Ring Dropping Superstitions: Dropping the wedding ring during the ceremony is considered bad luck. To avoid this, some couples take extra precautions, such as securing the ring with a ribbon or attaching it to a ring bearer’s pillow.
- Throwing Rice or Coins: Throwing rice or coins during the exit of the newlyweds from the church or venue is believed to bring prosperity and abundance in their married life. It is also seen as a gesture of sending well-wishes and blessings to the couple.
- Spiders in the Bridal Dress: As unusual as it may sound, some Filipinos believe that finding a spider in the bride’s wedding dress is a sign of good luck, indicating that the couple will be prosperous and financially secure in their marriage.
These superstitions and beliefs have been passed down through generations and are deeply rooted in Filipino culture. While some may consider them as mere folklore, they continue to be observed and respected by many Filipinos in their pursuit of love, happiness, and a long-lasting marriage.
Superstitions Related to Death and Funerals
Death and funerals are significant events in Filipino culture, and there are several superstitions and beliefs associated with them. These superstitions often reflect the deep respect and reverence Filipinos have for the deceased and their traditions. Here are some common superstitions related to death and funerals:
In Filipino culture, it is believed that mirrors should be covered or turned away during wakes or funerals. This superstition is rooted in the belief that mirrors can trap spirits, causing them to wander in the reflection and prevent them from joining their ancestors in the afterlife.
Avoiding Sweeping at Night
It is considered bad luck to sweep the floor at night during a wake or after someone’s death. This superstition is believed to disturb the spirits and can bring misfortune to the household.
Offering Food and Drink to the Soul
Filipinos believe that the soul of the deceased returns to the home after the funeral. To honor and nourish the soul, it is customary to offer food and drink on the altar for the departed loved one throughout the mourning period. These offerings are believed to provide sustenance and comfort to the soul.
Wearing Black or White
Traditionally, Filipinos wear black or white clothing to funerals to show respect for the deceased. Black is the color associated with mourning, while white symbolizes purity and innocence. It is considered inappropriate to wear bright or colorful attire during these solemn occasions.
Whistling is believed to attract spirits or bring bad luck during a wake or funeral. Filipinos avoid whistling near the deceased or in the vicinity of the funeral to prevent any disturbances or negative energy.
Breaking a Mirror
Breaking a mirror is considered extremely unlucky in Filipino superstition, regardless of whether it occurs during a funeral or at any other time. It is believed to bring seven years of bad luck to the person who broke it. This superstition is rooted in the belief that mirrors hold the soul and breaking one can release negative energy.
These superstitions and beliefs related to death and funerals reflect the deep cultural and spiritual significance Filipinos place on honoring their deceased loved ones. While some may consider them mere superstitions, they continue to be strongly ingrained in Filipino tradition and practices.
Superstitions for Good Luck and Prosperity
Superstitions for good luck and prosperity are deeply rooted in Filipino culture and are often passed down through generations. These beliefs and practices are followed with the belief that they can bring blessings, abundance, and success. Here are some common superstitions related to good luck and prosperity:
- Wearing red on New Year’s Eve: Filipinos believe that wearing red on New Year’s Eve brings good luck and wards off evil spirits for the coming year.
- Placing coins on windowsills: Placing coins on windowsills is believed to attract wealth and financial prosperity into the household.
- Avoiding sweeping at night: Sweeping the floor at night is believed to sweep away good luck, so it is considered bad luck to do so.
- Keeping the house clean and clutter-free: A clean and organized home is believed to invite good luck and positive energy into the household.
- Knocking on wood: Knocking on wood is a common superstition believed to ward off bad luck and protect against misfortune.
These are just a few examples of the superstitions practiced by Filipinos to attract good luck and prosperity. While superstitions may vary from region to region or even from family to family, they reflect the importance placed on luck and prosperity in Filipino culture.
Superstitions for Protection and Warding off Evil
In Filipino culture, there are various superstitions believed to provide protection and ward off evil spirits. These beliefs stem from a rich history of folklore and cultural practices. Here are some common superstitions for protection and keeping evil at bay:
- Wearing red clothing: It is believed that wearing red clothing can ward off evil spirits and provide protection.
- Placing garlic at entrances: Garlic is believed to have protective properties. Placing garlic at entrances is thought to keep evil spirits or entities from entering a home or space.
- Hanging a horseshoe: Hanging a horseshoe with the opening facing upward is believed to bring good luck and ward off evil.
- Writing names in reverse: Writing someone’s name in reverse is thought to confuse evil spirits who may be trying to harm that person.
- Burning incense or herbs: Burning incense or specific herbs, such as sage, is believed to purify a space and ward off negative energy or spirits.
- Placing a broom behind the door: Some believe that placing a broom behind the door can sweep away evil spirits and negative energies.
- Wearing amulets or talismans: Wearing or carrying amulets or talismans, such as religious symbols or objects believed to have protective powers, is believed to provide personal protection.
While these superstitions may vary in different regions and individual beliefs, they reflect the desire for protection and a belief in the power of certain objects or actions to ward off evil.
Superstitions play a significant role in Filipino culture, reflecting the historical and cultural background of the country. Whether it’s beliefs related to birth, marriage, or death, superstitions are deeply ingrained in the lives of Filipinos and are seen as a way to seek protection, ward off evil, and invite good luck and prosperity.
While some superstitions may seem irrational or illogical to outsiders, they hold great importance to Filipinos. They provide a sense of comfort and guidance in navigating life’s events and are deeply intertwined with traditions and customs. By understanding and respecting these superstitions, we gain insight into the rich cultural heritage of the Philippines and can appreciate the diverse beliefs and practices of its people.