Friday, September 9, 2011

Teardrop Earrings

One of the gifts my Mama has given me which I cherish and treasure with all my heart is a pair of dark stone, teardrop gold earrings. Until now I still don't know what those stones are. I remember Mama saying that they're probably smoky sapphires. Some of my friends who (I believe) know their stones say that maybe it's garnet or topaz. Whatever it is, I don't really care. All that matters to me is that it's a gorgeous, dainty pair that makes me feel so special whenever I wear them because it's a gift from my mother.

Since the day Mama gave me the gift, any kind of teardrop jewelry has become my all-time favorite. In our culture in the Philippines, anything shaped like teardrops is not particularly popular. This is due to old beliefs and superstitions which say that from its namesake alone and because of the shape itself, all teardrop-shaped jewelry are supposedly "bad luck." It can bring much sadness and tears into one's life. As a child, I've discovered hundreds of these different superstitions that I simply lost track of them. But I do remember the round-shaped, ovals or circular things we used to bring out on New Year's eve to "attract" money. They will (allegedly) allow money to flow in since the shapes resemble coins. And when you're moving into a new house make sure to put some loose coins into the "coffers" and fill up the rice bin so your family will never run out of money or rice in the years to come.

There are also the more common types of superstitions like bad things will happen if a black cat crosses your path or that there will be seven years of bad luck in store for you if you break a mirror. But it's a sign of "good luck" whenever the palm of your hand itches because you'll receive some cash. On the other hand, we also have the not-so-common superstitions like whenever we admire babies and compliment their cuteness and health, we must always say "pwera usog" or "buyag" for each compliment offered. When literally translated, those phrases would mean "to counter a hex or a curse" and "heaven forbid." Another uncommon one is when a child is hit in the head, we have to "counter" that by knocking up his chin several times so the growing process is not stunted. And if it's raining and sunny at the same time? Don't you dare go out and get wet in that rain because it's a sign that either the gnomes or the forest elves are getting married or the devil himself is taking a shower.

These are only a few of the superstitions and beliefs I've personally witnessed throughout the years. Although my family is not very superstitious, there were some practices we tried to follow "just for fun" like the round shapes we bring out as we usher in the new year. But all those years we've been doing that, I've never witnessed any overflowing of money. Unless my parents are just being mum about it? And I think I've broken a couple of mirrors and that's a total of 14 years of my life right there. I hope the duration of bad luck has already expired. And I still wear my favorite teardrop earrings each opportunity I get. So far, so good.

I'm not absolutely sure what the basis of these superstitions are. Maybe it's associated with one's culture and traditions? Maybe it's an intrinsic part of one's family history because they have been handed down from generation to generation so unpracticing them is out of the question? Some "experts" even dismiss superstitions as a "symptom" of ignorance and the lack of education. I don't know about that latter part for I personally know people who are well-educated and whom I consider not to be ignorant but they still believe in superstitions. It's really very hard to explain yet very easy to judge. I'd rather stay away from both. I wouldn't assume and I won't pass any judgement.

You know where I go to find answers to these very difficult questions? I have my Bible to guide me on this matter. I might not like what I read but it's already been settled for me that the Bible has the final say to everything because only God has the infallible answers.

"And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven." -Deutoronomy 4:19 

"And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger." -2 Kings 21:6 

"As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come." -Proverbs 26:2 

"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." -Colossians 2:8

These are just few verses from the Word of God which show me that any form of tradition, any way of life or type of beliefs that are not rooted on Jesus Christ and His teachings are false. Period. I know this is not easily acceptable even among Christians. Our culture and our family are very important to us including the practices and traditions that have been handed down since the time of our forefathers. I do understand that we hold on to these beliefs for security, for honor and to immortalize the legacy of our family and our people. This is not something new. Even some of the stories in the Bible tell us that God's people often fall away from God and lose His blessings because they chose to follow man's traditions and the unbelievers' way of life. Do you remember how Jesus was condemned by the Pharisees because He wouldn't follow their traditions? 

"Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition." -Mark 7:5-9

It's a very important yet often difficult choice to make: God's way or man's ways?


  1. Very good post Mara; very insightful. Us English have hundreds of such superstitions! I also think that religion, without Jesus at the centre, can also be a kind of 'superstition' too; you know, rituals, traditions, old ideas that actually come from men and society and not from God.

    The Pharisees were very religious, and yet Jesus was at odds with them. This tells us something about religion, and it also tells us something about Jesus too. He often walked with, and spent time with, people who were not particularly religious or seemingly worthy at all, people who sometimes even the best of us might look down on. Maybe people today who might be homeless or long-term unemployed or just lost in some way. Jesus would be interested in them, as we should be.

  2. Thank you, Tim. I think every people in every nation has their own version of superstitions! It's very interesting to confirm that even the English have them. =) And I do agree with you, Jesus was (and still is) a friend to lowly sinners, like me. God bless!

  3. This reminded me of who I was some years ago...

    Imagine being gripped with fear when a black cat crosses my path or I accidentally pass under a ladder or something. Now I just laugh at those things. I have less to worry knowing I have a God greater than all of these that just cause unnecessary fears.

    Since I became a Christian, I have let go of those superstitious beliefs little by little. I can say that it is a liberating experience and it made me hold on more to God and depend on black cat or broken mirror should dtermine what happens to us...but only God. :-)

  4. I think you've definitely disproved the sadness superstition, Mara. You are one of the happiest people I know.

  5. To BC, I'm so glad to know that you've conquered those "unnecessary fears" by the power of God. PTL indeed! He is truly in the healing & "liberating" business. Be blessed always.

    To Stephanie, thanks for your kind words. I do try! All by His grace & mercy, and for His glory alone.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...