Astronomy

Lunar Eclipse Superstitions from around the World



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The lunar eclipse brings about many superstitions, and many supernatural means of explanation among the cultures of the world. Although we now know what a lunar eclipse is, back in the days of Chinese dynasties, and Columbus sailing the ocean, nobody really knew what exactly was going on when the moon disappeared behind the night sky. With a lack of solid facts, you get lots of speculation, and in this case the superstitions across the world.

The Chinese believed that a dragon was eating the Moon, and they would shoot cannons at it in hopes of scaring it away. In fact the Chinese navy was known to have shot cannons at the Moon as late as the 19th century. Amazing how that far in human history, that the traditions of a culture would still be so engrained.

The people of India still hide inside during the eclipses, as they believe that the eclipse of the Moon allows bad rays to strike the Earth. They will hide inside, and close all the windows and doors in hopes that they will not be infected by these bad rays. They also will bang pots, and make other loud noises to scare away the evil forces taking over the Moon.

The Babylonians believed that the Moon being hidden was a harbinger of doom for some place in the world. They studied what quadrant of the Moon seemed to be eclipsed the most. They believed that they would see the most damage from the Gods and people in that part of the world should be careful. Soothsayers would offer predictions based on the readings of the Moon, and use them to determine what course of action should be taken.

The Bible says that when the Moon turns red, that the Apocalypse will come. A lot of cultures identify the eclipse with some sort of world ending calamity or impending doom. Just like a comet, or any other misunderstood astronomical occurrence, it was common to assume that the world was coming to an end. Eclipses as a force of God also influenced the Greeks, and they also helped Columbus convince the natives of Jamaica to help him before he starved.

Every culture had its own superstions, and stories regarding the eclipses. As we gain more knowledge of eclipses, some of the old traditions stick around just for fun. People in Japan and India still will bang pots, and shoot guns, but just out of tradition, not out of the hopes of ending the eclipse. Eclipses are more fun when they are festive, and as long as traditions stick around, lunar eclipses will always be a party for sure.

 

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