‘Four leaf clovers are good luck. Don’t walk under a ladder. Break a mirror and you get 7 years of bad luck.’
Every culture has superstitions or folklore used to explain the unexplainable. Growing up Khmer, my parents had a lot of explanations for everything. As I got older, I started to question the validity of of these superstitions. Some of them are pretty ordinary and usually predict bad or good luck. Others are more far-fetched and are only used to discipline children (or that’s how it felt when my parents tried to use them on me).
Here are a few of my favorites that, to this day, my parents, especially my mother (bless her), use to explain everything. A few of these have been turned into video clips, thanks to a few of my friends at UCLA who looked at Khmer superstitions as part of a Khmer Intermediate language class.
- A mole on your foot means you like to travel or go out. Or as my parents explain, it means I have good feet and can’t sit still, very true since I live in Australia now.
- Don’t take a photo with 3 people otherwise the person in the middle will die.
- Don’t eat lying down or you’ll turn into a crocodile (probably one of the weirdest, but most hilarious)
- If you suspect there is a ghost, you can see them by looking through your legs upside down.
- Dogs and other animals can sense ghosts (anytime my dog barks, my mother asks her what the ghosts want)
- If your left eye is twitching, it means bad luck.
- Don’t touch others on the head, it’s sacred because the soul rests there.
- It’s rude to point or rest your feet towards someone’s head.
- A mole on/near your eye is bad luck and you are oversensitive.
- A mole on your left cheek means you’re pretty. A mole on your right cheek means you’re ugly but have a good heart.
Thanks to Lisa Chorn, Saly Heng, Richard Chhuon and Alex Singam for letting me use their videos.
If you have more superstitions, we’d love to hear them!
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