16 Asian Old Wives’ Tales Your Grandmother Warned You About

16 Asian Old Wives’ Tales Your Grandmother Warned You About
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Every culture has its old wives’ tales and we might be familiar with plenty of them our mothers and grandmothers regale. Whether they are illogical, irrational or just well-meaning advice, these are beliefs we have grown accustomed to.

Here are 16 old wives tales you probably have heard!

Asian Old Wives’ Tales

1. Leftovers on Plate Mean an Ugly Wife

Children, finish everything on your plate! Why? Because the amount of leftovers may correlate to the number of pimples on your future partners’ face. Jokes aside, reducing food wastage is important and we should always finish our food.

2. Guessing baby’s gender through shape of the bump

Guessing baby’s gender through shape of the bump
Image: by freestocks.org

Sharp pointy bump? It definitely is a boy!

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Round bump? You are expecting a girl!

Older folks have their ways of figuring out the gender of the baby based on the shape of the bump. Whether it’s accurate or not, we prefer to think that the gender does not matter!

3. Pointing at the moon

The moon is not for pointing at apparently, as it will bring bad luck! How did this old wife’s tale come about? It was probably the fear of incurring the wrath of Moon Goddess Chang Er.

4. No drinking cold water during meals

Your mother might have told you not to drink cold water during meals.

Even though you might be thirsty, getting hydrated with cold water is taboo. Cold water is believed to cause poor digestion and affect your long-term health. Scientifically speaking, we can’t find any evidence hydrating.

One reason why your mother says so is to prevent you from getting filled with water and unable to eat properly.

5. Never ever gift a clock

Never ever gift a clock

Never gift something a clock, because in mandarin it means attending a funeral and wishing death on the person!

6. Don’t open umbrella Indoors

Another old wive’s tale is – no opening umbrellas indoors. You might be trapping an evil spirit!

How else can we open umbrellas then?

7. Breaking mirrors means seven years of bad luck

Breaking mirrors means seven years of bad luck
Image by Drigo Diniz

Try your best not to break a mirror, it means seven years of bad luck.

Some also say a broken mirror could trap your soul!

8. Showering at night

Taking baths has its hours too. Showering at night may leave you prone to catching a cold due to the cooler temperature. But the legend has it that you might get an headache sleeping with wet hair!

Our take? Just use a hair dryer.

9. Eye twitching

Is your eye twitching? Someone might be talking behind your back.

No seriously? It is probably your nerves in your eyes causing it due to tiredness, dryness, strain or certain medication.

10. Swallowing seeds of fruits

Ever wondered what happens if you accidentally swallow seeds of fruits?

Your grandmother might tell you to expect a plant growing out of your ears. Can a seed actually germinate in our bodies? We highly doubt it as it probably would not even stay in our system long enough to survive!

11. Cutting nails at night

Somehow, the night has a connection to more mysterious incidences. Cutting your nails at night could summon Death, bad luck or just a curse on the family.

It is hygienic to cut your nails any time of the day, just clean up after you are done otherwise the real scare will be given by your family members!

12. Giving shoes as a gift

I once gave a pair of shoes to a colleague who insisted on giving me a coin in return.

Why? She insists that if I gave her shoes, it would signal a deterioration in our relationship as it gave her the ability to “run away”.

13. Shake legs means shaking away your wealth

Shaking legs is a very natural habit for many. However, the older generation tends to disapprove of it since it could mean shaking away all of your wealth!

Well, I would be worried if I had a lot of wealth to begin with.

14. Ward away rain with onions and chilli


If you could control the weather, you could do it with onions and chilli. It is said that that combination of onions and chilli (fresh, of course) could ward off rain. Simply place them on a patch of open ground, with the chilli sticking out of a hole in the onion.

15. There are good numbers and bad numbers

My Math teacher never shared why certain numbers are good or bad. However, numbers such as 4, 10 are generally not preferred due to the Chinese characters sounding like “death”. Other numbers like 8 or 9 are popular as they are associated with prosperity and longevity.

16. High foreheads and big ears are great things!

If you have a high forehead and big ears, congratulations. You are blessed with intelligence and good fortune, according to old wives’ tales. Perhaps the high foreheads theory was connected to politicians such as Lee Kuan Yew while big ears are associated with Buddha’s ears.

Our physical attributes ultimately are not within our control. Whether you have big ears or foreheads, a good work ethic would likely guarantee a better outlook on life.

READ: Amazing List of Kid-friendly Restaurants with Playgrounds

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