10 surprising superstitions in Taiwan

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Despite having a highly literate, educated population employed in a world-class IT industry, many in Taiwan's society still retain a bewildering myriad of colorful superstitions.

Beyond the well-documented fears of uttering the number four, whistling at night, placing chopsticks upright in rice and the plethora of things one shouldn't do during ghost month and when pregnant, there is a vast profusion of even more prohibitions many still observe during their daily lives Taiwan.

The following is but a short list of the wide array of Taiwanese superstitions:

1. Don't pick up a red envelope on the street.

If you pick up a red envelope and take the money inside, you are obligated to marry a ghost bride. Parents of an adult woman who died before marrying leave out red envelopes with money and then hide and wait for someone to pick it up.

When they see a man pick it up, they require him to marry the spirit of their daughter. If he doesn't agree, he will have nightmares of a woman crying until he agrees to wed his spectral spouse.

2. If you point to the moon, your ear will drop off.

Pointing with the index finger at the moon is disrespectful to the moon goddess Chang'e and she will retaliate by cutting your ear clean off, or at least cut it slightly.

3. Don't write another person's name in red.

Normally red is an auspicious color, but in this case it symbolizes blood, and writing someone's name in this way would indicate that they could suffer a grave injury or even death soon. English teachers grading papers will have to be especially careful about this one.

4. Don't raise two dogs, raise four instead.

If you have two pet dogs, it is a bad omen because with two mouths they will symbolically form the Chinese character to cry, which is composed of two mouths above and the symbol for canine below. Paradoxically, although the number four is normally taboo, having four dogs is considered ideal because their four mouths form the second character of, generosity.

5. Don't take a mirror selfie at night.

It is not a good idea to take a photo of yourself in the mirror at night, unless you want an awful apparition photobombing your picture.

6. Don't pat people gambling on the back.

Fight the urge to pat your buddy on the back or shoulder when they are gambling, because the Chinese character for back (bei) can also mean bad luck.

7. Couples shouldn't visit temples of Lu Dongbin.

Young couples should never visit temples dedicated to the famous immortal Lu Dongbin, such as Zhinan Temple in Taipei, because he is known being jealous of young couples and will try to break them up.

8. People who pierce their ears can't be reincarnated as a man.

Once a person pierces their ears, regardless of their gender, it is said that they cannot be reincarnated as a man in their next life.

9. Don't cut your nails at night.

It is said that you should not cut your toenails or fingernails at night, because if you do you will not be able to be around your parents when they die.

10. Knock first before entering a hotel room.

To avoid a ghoulish gaffe when entering a hotel room for the first time, knock first, then politely step to the side, and lastly flush the toilet. This will give a chance for potential occult occupants to exit the area.