Category: Folklore

Happy Chinese New Year 2017 – Fire Rooster Year

Fire Rooster, Photo by PH Morton

Happy Chinese New Year 2017 – Fire Rooster Year

Rooster, photo by PH Morton

Rooster, photo by PH Morton

To everyone, let us wish you a Happy Chinese New Year.

Kung Hei Fat Choi

2017 is the year of the Fire Rooster.

The fire rooster symbolises fidelity and punctuality.  I can understand the latter one as rooster will cock-o-doodle-do at the crack of dawn serving as an alarm clock to early risers especially farmers and field workers.

We used to keep roosters and chicken in our farm in Marag.  As peacocks, they are really stunning lookers compared to the hens.

Who are the roosters?

They are those born in 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2015, 2029 (Year of the Rooster comes every 12 years)

Have a piri-piri chicken. We hope this New Year is full of trips to KFC, Jollibee and McDo and have a lovely chickenjoy! 🙂 🙂 😉

Happy New Year!

Commonplace Book

Commonplace Book

As our dear visitors can see in the title heading of our blog, we describe it as being a Commonplace Book.

What is a commonplace book?!!!

It has a very long history; the first commonplace books are believed to have been compiled from the 14th century and continued to be popular onto the19th century.

They can be regarded as a kind of scrap book where the compiler noted and collected scraps of information, etc. Entries are made only in handwriting and if needed illustrated by hand too. These were what differed a commonplace book from a scrap book –  no cutting and pasting bits of paper!.


commonplace book

The  subjects of interest can be diverse; such as poems, prose, short essays, tracts, critique, prayers, observations,academic, thoughts/ideas on subjects, drawings/illustrations, myths, folklore, quotes, news, lists, recipes, facts on various subjects, etc.

Collecting items like this to record in a book was called  commonplacing.

Commonplace books were first known in fourteenth century Italy. They were known as zibaldone.   The books were referred by Italians as “salads of many herbs.”

They often included sketches and cursive written scripts. Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio kept such books.

17th-century-commonplace book

17th century commonplace book

Later among others, Thomas Hardy, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Francis Bacon,Mark Twain  and John Milton all kept commonplace books.

A Commonplace book is not a diary or a journal,

Commonplace books contained notes and sometimes drawings on subjects, which were of particular interest to the collector and compiler. The collector may have copied/sketched or made notes of articles, tracts etc., from rare and not generally available books. Public access to libraries were rare too in those days.

These compilers may even had contributed to the social media of their age when showing or lending out their books to others.

We think  today’s 21st Century internet blogs serve as a type of commonplace book.

The blogger collects items of interest to themselves from various sources the internet, newspapers, reference books (as we do) etc., and which they think might interesting to others by sharing on line.

Humans have an insatiable thirst for the varied and diverse topics that make up our modern lives.

Welcome to our commonplace book, welcome to


Second Full Moon of the Month

Yesterday on Friday 31  July there was a rare astronomical event close to home that many might not have noticed, a second full moon of the month.

They sky over London last night was generally clear and where I live in NW London was exceptional with few clouds.

I gazed up and saw a full moon. what was unusual is that it was the second full moon in a calendar month.

 Second Full Moon of the Month

I took this photo of it at around 1 am (Saturday morning) from our back garden.

Second Full moon July AKA a 'blue moon'

Second Full moon July AKA a ‘blue moon’


Normally  there are 29.5 days between full moons and therefore a full moon once a month. Such moons are known as a ‘blue moon’

A blue moon is defined  as the second full moon in a calendar month.  We have a saying that a rare event or happening occurs ‘once in a blue moon.’

The next Blue Moon will be in May 2016.

Even rarer, are have two blue moons in a  calendar year this last  happened in 1999. There were two full moons in January and two full moons in March and no full moon in February. So both January and March had Blue Moons.

The  full moon is given a name for each month of the year it appears.

January: the Wolf Moon, February: the Snow Moon, March: the Worm Moon, April: the Pink Moon, May: the Flower Moon, June: the Strawberry Moon, July: the Buck Moon, August: the Sturgeon Moon, September: the Harvest Moon, October: the Hunter’s Moon, November: the Beaver Moon, December: the Cold Moon.

More well-known here are the Harvest Moon in September as centuries ago, this full moon helped farmers gather their harvest in at night. The Hunter’s Moon appears brighter and larger, which aided hunters at night in fields and forests.

Enjoy gazing at our constant,  closest, changeless, celestial neighbour 🙂

New Year Superstitions: Fruits


13 (14 really) fruits for good fortune for the new year. Photo by PH Morton

oh oh, it seems we Filipinos are doing it wrong.  It is not supposed to be 13 but 8.  Eight is enough!  Eight means infinity.  8 is a good luck number for the Chinese, who we adopted this tradition of fruit good luck for the New Year!

I have to rethink my fruit display next year or rather end of this year.  OmG, I have to make a decision what to include in my fruit trog.  I have about 15 this year!

~The pressure!

Anyway, whatever the numbers of fruits in your  basket, I hope and wish you a fantastic, fabulous and fruitful (lol) 2015!

Read below some interesting legends about New Year traditions!

New Year Superstitions: Fruits

Round fruits bring luck this New Year? Traditions explained

Posted at 12/30/2010 2:23 PM | Updated as of 12/31/2010 11:41 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos have traditionally observed serving certain food items such as round-shaped fruits on New Year’s eve, as influenced by the Chinese.

The belief that certain foods bring luck and good fortune is shared by many, but there are some who join the “fad” not knowing the real reason behind it.

Chinese entrepreneurs Gerard and Jeric Chua of famed hopia maker Eng Bee Tin talked to dzMM’s “Todo-Todo, Walang Preno” program on Wednesday to give light to the meaning behind the tradition of using certain foods at this time of the year.

1. Round-shaped fruits: Eight, and not 12 or 13, round-shaped fruits must be served. “8 lang talaga ang number of fruits kasi 8 ang lucky number ng mga Chinese. It means infinity,” said Gerard.

2. Pineapple fruit on windows and doors: Due to its numerous “eyes”, the pineapple symbolizes an eye for successful career and opportunities.

3. Tikoy: “Ang tikoy kasi malagkit, matamis at bilog. Malagkit symbolizes unity in the family all year round. Matamis symbolizes close relationships, and bilog, ibig sabihin ay pera,” Gerald explained.

4. Fortune/flower cake: It is believed to bring about the blooming of character, personality and relationship among family members.

5. Spring Rolls: These symbolize unity, cooperation and understanding in the family all-year round.

6. Hopia. The bean-filled pastry hopia symbolizes hope and eternity.

7. Even numbers: All food items must come in even numbers except for the number 4. “Four kasi sa Chinese ay ‘si’, meaning death. ’Yung 9 naman, inverted 6. Omen number ang 666 kaya ayaw talaga ng mga Chinese,” said Gerard.

Myths debunked

The Chua brothers, also volunteer firefighters, debunked various food myths.

1. Myth: Serving chicken or any poultry product on Media Noche, the traditional New Year’s eve feast, will bring poverty and hardships.

“Hindi naman totoo ‘yun. Sa panahon ngayon, lagi nang inihahanda ‘yung chicken sa New Year,” said Jeric.

2. Myth: Don’t serve fruits with black seeds as these will bring bad fortune.

The Chua brothers said that the color of a fruit’s seed will never determine your fortune.

3. Myth: Serving shrimps and prawns during Media Noche brings bad luck for these are known to be bottom dwellers.

The brothers said that prawns symbolize prosperity and good health.

Gerard and Jeric reminded the public not to be overly attached to traditions.
“Para sa amin, hindi naman talaga importante na sundin iyon. Basta sama-sama buong pamilya at may nakakain ay sasagana naman for the next year,” Gerard ended.


For maximum good fortune in terms of money 😉  it is also advised to hang circular fruits like grapes around the house especially around windows!


Weeping Willow


Weeping Willow Photo by PH Morton

Weeping Willow

The weeping willow is such a beautiful tree, with its cascading branches, twigs and leaves seem determine to  touch the ground.

Though it is really graceful and majestic, this tree has some really negative superstitions attached to it. It probably has  to do with its rather forlorn appearance of stooping leaves trying to reach the ground, it looks like all the troubles in the world hang on its branches, there is a sense of defeat!

Did you know?

Weeping willows symbolises mourning, especially of bereavement! Not very nice!

Apparently it is unlucky to cut the branches off!


There is a legend that the first weeping willow in England was planted by none other the flamboyant Alexander Pope.  Apparently he received a gift of figs, contained in a willow basket, from turkey.  From the basket he broke off a sprig or a twig and planted it in his garden adjacent to a river bank.  The constant flow of water ensured that the twig flourished and grew into a verdant weeping willow tree.

The Riddle of the Coconuts

A carabao-drawn cart loaded with freshly harvested young coconuts from barangay Nabbuan, Santiago City

A carabao-drawn cart loaded with freshly harvested young coconuts from barangay Nabbuan, Santiago City Photo:

The story below is from a book, which is currently available through Project Gutenberg.

The book is entitled Philippine Folk Tales written and collated by Mabel Cook Cole.  I have adapted it a little bit and used coconuts rather than the unfamiliar (to me anyway) cocoanuts.  The story came from the Tinguian tribe.

The Man with the Coconuts

One day a rather enterprising Manila boy, who was on vacation in Bacolod  borrowed his grandfather’s cart and carabao  to gather coconuts from their farm to sell in the market for some money so he can paint the town red later that evening with his friends.

This rather spoiled man was very sure of himself and thought that what he was about to do is really a doddle.  Nothing to it at all.  Just load the cart with coconuts and deliver them to the market.  Easy peasy, quick money.

Loading the cart with coconut was easy enough; it was pretty easy that the man kept loading the cart with more coconuts that it could really carry, more than enough to challenge the poor carabao’s pulling prowess.

He was no more than five minutes in his journey when he met a local boy.  He asked the boy the quickest way to the market.

“If you go slowly,” said the boy, looking at the load on the horse, “you will arrive very soon; but if you go fast, it will take you all day.”

The young man found this cryptic advice very puzzling but thought nothing more of it.   He reckoned the  boy was talking stupid nonsense, probably been too long in the sun. 🙂

With a purposeful slap of his whip, he hurried the long suffering carabao along.  But the coconuts started falling one by one.  He had to stop to pick them up.  He then hurried the carabao to make for lost time.  But the more they move faster the more coconuts fell off, which he had to pick up.  This happened several times.

It was nearly the end of the market day when he arrived at his destination.  At this time he was so tired and weary that all he wanted was to go home, have some supper cooked by his grandmother and then go to bed.

He certainly learnt something that day. A slower pace is not always a bad thing.

Lobelia – Annuals

Lobelia - Photo by PH Morton

Lobelia – Photo by PH Morton

There is a strange superstition about lobelias which is really hard to fathom.

Apparently this delicate little flower is a symbol of unadulterated malevolence… Rather scary for such a tiny flower.

Month: June Many Facets

June Junio Juin Giugno Juni Hunyo

Month: June Many Facets

Did you know?

There is a folklore in Iceland concerning how to delay the ageing process.  Apparently it is believed that one must bathe  in the morning due on the 24th of June.  This presumably have to be done in the nude, very early in the morning. 🙁  brrr cold.

Notable Events on the month of June:

1 June 1946 – Television licence was first issued in Britain for the princely sum £2.00 per annum.
Currently, a colour TV Licence costs £145.50 and a black and white TV Licence costs £49.00.

2 June 1989 – About 100,000 joined the demonstration at Tiananmen Square in China.

6 June 1936 – Gatwick Airport opened for business.

12 June 1667 – first blood transfusion was performed.

12 June 1942 – Anne Frank began her diary.

15 June 1215 – the Magna Carta was signed by King John

18 June 1935, the iconic motor vehicle for the seriously rich, registered their Roll-Royce trademark on this day.

22 June 1847, good to know that our beloved doughnut was first created on this day. 😉

22 June 1907, Northern Line (underground) opened.

27 June 1871, Yen was established as Japan’s currency

Keira Knightley – Waisted

I saw this photo of the beauteous, Keira Knightly.  She wore this optical illusion ensemble  at a Chanel fashion show.

It is pretty bizarre, don’t you think?

It reminds me of something from popular Filipino folklores called “manananggal”.  



Manananggal (Philippines)

Manananggal (Philippines)

A manananggal is usually a pretty woman who turns into a flying banshee at night to prey on pregnant women sucking  their fetus.  They also prey on sleeping people and suck their blood.

The manananggal can separate itself from its lower torso and fly and look for victims at night.  The only way to vanquish a manananggal is to look for its weak point which is its severed lower body.  You can sprinkle salt all over the top of the standing torso (please refer to the photo opposite), this will prevent the manananggal to  rejoin its lower half and would then die just after sunrise like a vampire.

BTW,  I love Keira Knightley. She is an excellent actress.

Magpies Superstitious Rhyme

Magpies – Photo by PH Morton

Magpies Superstitious Rhyme

The rhyme below was the original version of the magpie rhyme.  It was first recorded around 1780.

“One is a sign of sorrow;
two are a sign of mirth;
Three are a sign of a wedding;
and four a sign of birth.”
one for sorrow

one for sorrow

Two for joy

Two for joy

Three for a wedding


Four a birth

Four for a birth

The one following is the modern version which everyone is more familiar with.

One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret,
Never to be told.

I think it is this rhyme that is giving beautiful magpies a bad name. I must say, I am not superstitious – well not really, but if I see just one magpie I do search for another. 🙂