Super Superstitions

Daniel gripped the steering wheel anxiously, occasionally glancing to the back seat where an older woman with flowy white hair sat, staring blankly at the road ahead of her. He cleared his throat, attempting to grab the woman’s attention and failing. Clicking his tongue, he tightened his grip on the steering wheel, heartbeat thrumming in his ears as he tried to focus back on the road despite the lack of oncoming cars. Come to Hawai’i, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. As soon as he got on the plane, nothing but trouble came his way. Screaming babies, snoring middle-aged men, and a strange lady who kept repeating, “Pick up the lady in white. Pick her up, no matter what. ” What a weird girl. It was thanks to that weirdo that he was now sitting awkwardly in the front with an old lady resting lifelessly in the back of his strangely sticky rental. He was sure this was crazy, just some myth that people scared tourists to chase them away. He sighed, turning to look at the lady before swerving in panic when he realized she was gone, a single ti leaf in her spot. 

Now, that story may seem like it’s absurd, the ramblings of a crazy person. Still, it is a common superstition amongst Hawaiians that Pele, the goddess of fire and lava, shapeshifts into an older woman in white, waiting for a kind soul to pick her up, casting bad luck on those who don’t. Superstitions, such as this one, are very commonly believed, whether it be to knock on wood or throw salt over your shoulder for good luck.


“I feel there’s some truth to superstitions or, more so, history on why people believe in them and where they originated,” Tristin Allen explained. “I, personally, believe that what people believe in depends on how, where, and who they were raised with.”


Like the person’s environment, culture contributes to the superstitions believed amongst certain groups of people. 


“Whistling at night is something we are taught as children because it will attract obake (unwanted spirits), but in other cultures, it is just because it is disrespectful,” Kendra Allen, a local Hawaiian, states. “When you grow up with something ingrained in your mind, you often don’t question it. It had to come from somewhere. Is it reasonable? No. Would I whistle at night to find out? No!” 


Regardless of the differences amongst the varying versions of each superstition, superstitions are believed by a broad group of people despite other personal idealisms.


“Everyone I’ve known in Hawai’i believes in some type of superstition,” says Kendra Allen. “I haven’t made relationships with people in the mainland, so I’m not sure about these people’s superstitions, but I’m sure everyone has something they believe in.”


Likewise, to believing in superstitions in general, many people appear hesitant in believing in such.


“I think it really depends on each person, to be completely honest. I’ve never had anything bad to lead me to believe in superstitions, but it’s not that I deny that they can possibly be true. It’s just what I personally believe based on my experience,” Maile Podlewski states.


In general, superstitions are widely known, each person confiding in each of their own beliefs whether it be to follow those superstitions or not. It all depends on each person as an individual.