Or some of both. In the US, one of those customs-cum-superstitions surrounds the number 13. We know about (unlucky) Friday the 13th. I’ve been in some NYC buildings that have skipped floor 13 and labeled them 12, 12A, 14, and so on. In China, the unlucky number is 4, because it sounds too close to the word for death. Some of the building here skip the 4th floor. Four is avoided as part of telephone numbers (no one wants to die on the phone?).
Another crazy superstition-turned-tradition, at least in this country, is firecrackers. The Chinese have been playing with fire for a couple thousand years. And they love fireworks. Or rather, firecrackers that make loud noises.
The custom, or myth, is that the loud explosions scare off evil spirits — if a new born is brought home or someone gets married. The explosive noise also wakes up the good ghostly protectors.
Hardly a day goes by that I don’t hear their snappy explosive cracks and booms. As part of a ritual, they can be set off at almost any time from early morning to late evening. Last week, several days apart, there were a couple of firework celebrations at 10 pm in the compound where I live lasting several minutes each complete with reverberations between the buildings. I couldn’t hear anything else. This past weekend was particularly intense because it was a holiday, cause for above-average noise making.
During an early morning walk recently a kaboom went off close to me. Whatever the cause, I leapt in the air in seeming celebration. My being startled was on me for not paying attention. Note to self: Staying visually vigilant for explosive fuse lightings may help reduce shock reaction. If only firecrackers could be used to blow up suspicious numbers.
Finding examples of silly wive’s tales-turned-custom in any country could fill pages. Point is, it’s kind of frivolous — grown humans giving in to believing delusions then living by customs supporting them.
But, we’ve all got to live with a certain amount of foolishness — so we make the best of it. Scary sounding numbers are fairly harmless. But the booms and cracks of explosive noises from gunpowder in the name of scaring or waking spirits can keep you on your toes, and if not paying attention, maybe even off your toes.
The below less than one minute video is out my balcony last week from a celebration that lasted several minutes. Many of the booms however are not accompanied by such nice lights.