I NEVER clip my nails at night, and you won’t believe the reason why

November 21, 2019 — by Andrew Lee

It was just a normal night about five years ago. I held my left hand over the trash can, holding a nail clipper in my right, ready to clip away at some very long fingernails that had been bothering me all week. Half asleep, I positioned the right side of my left thumbnail in between the clamp of the clipper. Snip.

“You shouldn’t ever be cutting your nails at night,” the deep, grumbling voice of my father said. 

I turned around. He was standing right behind me, half his body covered in shadow. He leaned in. 

“If you do, that means your parents are going to die.”

His words worried me, so I didn’t finish the job and ended up going to sleep with a half-cut thumbnail. I don’t consider myself to be superstitious, but clipping my nails after dark has become something I never ever do. 

According to my dad, this is a thing in Korea. Maybe it’s because I was too tired that night to question the superstition or was too lazy to bring it up the next morning, but I just decided to believe it. I never questioned the logic of this superstition until I sat down to write this story. So, I did some research and here is what I found.

According to soranews24.com, the superstition actually originated in Japan. The superstition goes as follows: “You should not clip your nails at night. Because if you do, you won’t be with your parents when they die.”

It’s believed that you will not be with your parents when they die because of your own premature death. After all, being dead makes it unlikely you’ll be with your parents.

The website theorizes that this superstition derived from the fact that in ancient Japan, many had to use blades to cut their nails. Using a blade on your own body in the dark was dangerous, so the act may have suggested taking one’s own life.

So, I guess my dad’s superstition is partially incorrect.  Nonetheless, his version is the one I have believed in for a whole and will be the one I continue to follow.

Not clipping my nails sometimes is a problem because I often don’t find the time or am too lazy to do the simple yet very easily procrastinated task in the morning or after school. Consequently, my nails sometimes get too long. 

It gets gross, but I can’t help it. I believe in this irrational superstition: I’d like to keep my parents alive.

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