Posted by: Alicia Phillips | February 21, 2012

Fijian Superstitions

One of the most interesting parts of Fijian culture, I think, are all the old superstitions and old wives’ tales and the stories that back them up.  A big difference here is that most people don’t just think they are superstitions…..they honestly believe in them. I have talked to local people that I work with and other volunteers who live in villages and have heard a lot of very interesting tales.

For example:

-One of our PCV’s, (Sam- check out her blog- listed in the sidebar), told me about a superstition in her village that goes: if you know you are pregnant and you don’t tell anyone about it then everything you or anyone close to you does will be ruined. Case in Point, they had a VCO (Virgin Coconut Oil) workshop and they did everything perfect but the next day all the oil went bad. Come to find out, the lady who did all the coconut scraping was pregnant and was keeping it a secret. Once it got out that she was pregnant she had to go around to all the villagers and to the village chief and offer her apologies.

-I’ve also heard that if you are pregnant you are unable to enter a certain cave on one of the outer islands.

-If a butterfly comes up to you it is a loved one who has passed away coming back to say hello.

-If a bird is chirping right outside your door then someone is coming to see you and bringing news.

-If you hear an owl hoot at sunset then a loved one will die soon.

-If you leave your clothes out after dark then evil spirits will reside in them.

-Women shouldn’t take a shower or cut their nails at night because that’s when the evil spirits are out.

-In some villages if you walk past a certain tree then you will get sick.

-if there is an abundance of fruit on the trees than a hurricane is coming.

-And you should NEVER talk about or ask a Fijian where they are going fishing because then they won’t catch any fish.

Seems crazy right? Who makes this stuff up? How am I supposed to relate to these people that have such crazy beliefs? That got me to thinking…….we have some pretty crazy superstitions in America too! Everyone knows that if a black cat crosses your path then its bad luck; same with walking under a ladder or breaking a mirror – then you get 7 whole years of bad luck! Or, how about when your ears are burning? Someone must be talking about you. Spill some salt? Then you have to throw some over your left shoulder to keep the bad luck away. Friday the 13th? Full moons? You know some crazy stuff is about to go down!!

If you think about it, our superstitions and Fiji’s superstitions aren’t so different after all. While most Americans don’t honestly believe most of these…they still make us uneasy. Same with Fijians.

I thought this made an interesting story. Does anyone out there know of any other superstitions that I may have missed? Any good stories to go along with it? Comment below!


  1. hahaha… Alicia, this is one of those topics that could go on and on. You’ll be very surprised to learn how the different cultural superstitions actually have historical claims or myths. There is alot of things in the islands that we would classify as “Mana” or God-given. Be it superstition or observed occurances, these phenomenons have been thought of along the lines of spirituality. There is some amazing things like Turtle Calling, the Blossom of the tagimoucia, the firewalkers of Beqa and the red prawns of Vatulele which are unexplainable by science but make sense when it comes to superstitions..haha. Like I said, this is a topic that goes on and on in Fiji. However, most superstitions have been passed down for generations and based on myths and legends.

  2. I like the butterfly one..that one is sweet at least. My host family told me I got sick from “too much admiration”, which I was then instructed to put a black dot behind my ear to ward of the “evil eye”. What I think it was, was a serious case of food poisoning from unwashed produce. Perhaps the symptoms are the same….

    • They do have the same symptoms…lmfao!

  3. there is one of those original “pregnancy test” caves in Levuka!

  4. When walking on a sidewalk, the saying is, “Step on a crack you’ll break your mother’s back”.. I still, to this day will not deliberately step on a crack. Also, how about “sing before breakfast, cry before the day is over” and of course, if, after a rain shower, you look up into the clouds and see ‘enough blue to make a Dutchman’s trousers” it won’t rain any more!! LOL Course you realize these sayings are at least 80 years old. cause my mom told me as a young child and her mom told her!!! and I’m 77 sooo go figure!! So glad each time I find your “letters from Figi” in my email!! Hang in and keep ’em coming. 🙂

  5. Love reading your posts, so glad you write these so we can all learn about your experiences. I hope things are going great for you!!

  6. Love it 😉 .

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