Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Chinese Curse

I received an email today from a woman who believes that her family was cursed to have an "interesting life". I emailed her back letting her know this was a form of what is called "The Chinese Curse". The Chinese Curse is composed of three spoken curses. The phrasing of each individual curse may vary from person to person.

1.) May You Live In Interesting Times.

2.) May You Come To The Attention Of The Authorities.

3.) May All Of Your Wishes Be Granted.

Each spoken sentence doesn't seem that bad at first. Only upon pondering the implications is the deeper meaning understood. All three spoken sentences imply bad luck, misfortune, and destruction. For example if you had all of your wishes granted not only would you cause much destruction to the people around you but you would also destroy yourself. How many of us have blurted out, "I wish I was dead", at some point in our lives?

The good news is that there is no evidence these three spoken curse are traditional Chinese curses. In fact, I've heard these be attributed to the Irish before. The bad news is that it is a form of ill-wishing. If you have been "cursed" in this manner you can do uncrossing work to be rid of it.

Finally, the phrasing of these curses is very similar to the curses of other cultures. For example, there's a Jewish curse that goes:

"May you never be forced to visit someplace disgusting".

This curse is a reference to visiting the bathroom and urinating and defecating and hence it is a form of ill-wishing so that a person's bladder or bowels are stopped up.


  1. I would like to share a few superstitious custom from my family. I'm Chinese, so yeah. This blog some what relates with "superstitious cursing". So I can relate with this, some things I heard from my parents, grandparents and relatives never ever to dropped the chopsticks on the floor ESPECIALLY both during the Lunar New Year's Eve and the First day of the Chinese New Year. Just this simple action in this most important days of the Chinese New Year Calendar can make "misfortunes", always be in hunger, and if not (telling the elders to die). Another Chinese custom is also related to chopsticks, and that's when eating, never ever place the chopsticks vertically on the bowl of rice. This symbolizes death, and it's very ill lucked. The second one I know, because it has a historical value. During the ancient days of China, and throughout history of ruling Dynasties this "placing" a pair of chopsticks on a rice bowl is reserved for criminals having their last meal before death. Therefore it's a taboo to have a chopstick "placed in the bowl of cooked rice vertically", because this is an act of cursing people to have their last meal before they passed away.

    Hope this helps :)

    -Danny Chen

    1. Danny,

      That's very interesting. The last time I had sushi one of the chefs got on to me for crossing my chopsticks when eating. (I'm clumsy with them and usually just eat sushi with my fingers as it is technically finger food but this time I didn't.) The guy said that when you cross your chopsticks when eating you are actually telling the chef that you find the food disgusting. I had no idea.

    2. What an interesting experience Doc.