Saturday, July 7, 2018

How superstitious are you? Here are 5 superstitious beliefs and their explanations.

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog

1. When house lizards (butiki) are noisy, there is a guest coming.
 My father used to tell me when I was a child, that if house lizards make loud and crispy calls, it’s likely that a visitor is coming. 

How do lizards know?  Some people attribute this to the house lizard’s habit of “kissing” the ground at dusk. But this has nothing to do with predicting a guest’s arrival.  But we know that when a person is anticipating a guest he is extraordinarily keen, and thus become aware of anything happening in his surroundings – including the mating calls of lizards.

House lizards take a drink on the ground and return to their dwellings on top of trees, on ceilings and roofs where water is scarce. By the way lizards are present where there is a lot of insects they feed on, such as areas around fluorescent lamps and streetlights.   

2. Someone dies if the fire tree is in full bloom.
It sounds more of a premeditated action rather than prediction. In olden days there were tribes that go headhunting when the fire tree (Delonix regia) was in full bloom.  In the Philippines the early Ilongots of the CordilleraMountain used to descend to claim their victims from among the lowlanders.  

The Fire Tree's Greatest Hour, painting by AVR 2013

The sacrifice was part of a ritual to win a woman’s heart. How true is the story, we do not know.  But among the Aztecs and Mayans, before they were converted into Christianity, sacrificing human beings to their gods was a common practice 

One explanation of this belief is that the fire tree blooms to its fullest in the face of extreme drought, most likely due to El Niño, a condition that causes untold death and misery. It is the upland dwellers that are worse affected, forcing them to go to the lowlands in search for food or seek refuge, inevitably causing trouble.     

3. A conceiving mother who gets near a fruiting tree causes its fruits to fall prematurely.
There is no scientific evidence to link a conceiving mother with the premature dropping of fruits, but let us look at it this way.  Craving for certain food, such as those rich in Vitamin C - green mango, young sampalockamias, guava and the like - is generally observed among conceiving mothers. It is not unusual to see them in the orchard, holding a bamboo pole or some pieces of stone. Such craving for special foods is a physiologic function of the body, but it may be psychological, too.  Old folks interpret it as maternal impression (pinaglihi-an), which is of course an unfounded belief.
4. People with large ears live longer.

Study the ears of centenarians and you will conclude it is not true. Well, in the animal kingdom, elephants, which have very large ears live as long as 70 years - so with giraffes, lions and hippopotamuses which have relatively smaller ears. Large ears (pinnae) can pick up sounds better. Having large ears helps us in coping with certain situations, especially in times of danger. The long ears of the rabbits also help regulate body temperature; they conserve or radiate heat, as it may be the case.  

5. Avoid laughing while planting kamote (sweet potato) otherwise the roots will become liplike. One who has incomplete teeth (bungal) should keep his mouth closed when planting corn, otherwise the cobs will not be filled properly, or become empty.
These are purely superstitious beliefs.  But maybe we look at it this way. One who is not serious in his work is likely to commit mistakes. What happens if the planting materials are not well placed in the soil?  Stray chickens may come after the uncovered corn.  If the distancing of the cuttings is irregular, naturally crop stand will be poor.  Too much fun leaves a lot of work poorly done or unfinished. 

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