Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hanging Clothes out at Night

In an earlier post I shared about the local belief of how to dispose of dead dogs and cats.

Recently a coworker here in the Taiwanese countryside heard about a superstition forbidding whistling at night. I tried to confirm it the other night when a young boy was visiting, but he didn’t seem to have anything against whistling, even suddenly doing so himself. However, earlier the same evening when he started to tell me a story which involved the Chinese word for “death” or “die”, he interrupted himself in mid-sentence saying it was best not to use that word after dark.

This kind of fear doesn’t end with children scared about ghosts. This week I learned from others that here locally there’s a tradition which speaks against leaving your clothes hanging at out night: they will attract the ghosts roaming aimlessly outside who are looking for clothes to wear! And then there’s the one about not ringing a bell outside at night or playing a flute. They will attract ghosts in the same manner as the Pied Piper attracted rats. These are real concerns here in the Taiwanese countryside.