Etiquette & superstition: rice

Can I actually write a blurb about rice etiquette without talking about Asian rice etiquette? Yes, I can.

ETIQUETTE: Contrary to popular belief (thanks a lot, Ann Landers), birds’ stomachs will not explode if they eat uncooked rice grains, so it is absolutely fine to throw rice at the bride and groom after the wedding if you are wishing fertility upon the couple. Let’s say you don’t want to wish fertility upon the couple, however. Maybe having a child will kill the bride. Maybe the happy couple has a raging drug problem. Maybe you are worried about global overpopulation. What can you throw? Happily, stupid brides who believe everything Ann Landers writes and the stupid wedding planners that humor them have provided us with several options over the years:

  • birdseed
  • bubbles
  • rose petals
  • glitter
  • confetti

One note: our friend Millicent Fenwick tells us that confetti is absolutely not to be thrown at weddings in the southern part of the US. And I will believe Millicent Fenwick over Ann Landers any day.

SUPERSTITION: The Loogaroo! Also known as the Soucouyant (thought it’s not nearly as fun to say), the Loogaroo is an old woman who has this very unhealthy relationship with the Devil. As long as she gives him fresh blood every night, she will have magical powers. If she can’t give him someone else’s blood, she is going to have to give her own blood, and that’s not good for her. She’s an old lady, after all.

So in order to get someone else’s blood, the Loogaroo sheds her own skin at nightfall and wanders about in the form of a bright ball of blue light. It’s really not clear how the Loogaroo divests her victims of their blood, but if you wake up one morning feeling really groggy after having looked at a bright blue ball all night, chances are she’s gotten you. The Loogaroo can sneak in through the smallest crack under a door, so even if you hide indoors you’re not safe from her unless you place a big pile of rice on the porch. The Loogaroo is obsessive-compulsive, you see, and she cannot pass by a pile of rice without counting all of the grains. If you make the pile big enough, the Loogaroo will be stuck counting the grains of rice until morning, at which point you’ll be safe.

Photo by Meanest Indian on Flickr

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