For as long as I remember whenever I did something good such as do well on a test, my mother has pinched my butt. As a child she would literally pinch my butt, in more recent years she instructs me to pinch my own butt, or as she says in Assyrian, “theesa moocha” which is usually accompanied by a “mash allah,” or “God wills it.”
For years and years I did not question this. I didn’t necessarily think it was normal but I guess I kind of thought it was like a pat on the back or a congratulations, just in an ass pinching style.
It dawned on me more recently to actually ask my mother why she asks me to pinch my own butt. The answer was so convoluted it could only be Iranian.
Apparently if something good happens to you, spirits will cause harm to you because they’re jealous. The extremely beautiful are especially susceptible. To counteract this, you must hurt yourself by pinching your butt so they won’t be jealous of you anymore. The idea is that everyone is jealous of you all the time. Every time I would say that someone was not nice to me or I was mad that they didn’t invite me somewhere, my mother would always say, “they are just jealous of you.” I usually had to laugh because jealously had nothing to do with anything. At least it would make me feel better.
This is along the same lines as the evil eye. You have probably seen it before, that blue charm usually made of glass hanging from people’s (probably Middle Easterners) rear-view mirror. It stares back at the world to help ward off the evil jealousy. Blue eyes are supposed to be more evil or at least more prone to receiving evil mojo, so what I can’t figure out is why the charm is a blue eye.
It is hard for me to understand why every time something positive happens to you, you should do something negative to yourself in order to counteract it. Can good things just not happen to us? On second thought, it is kinda like yin and yang, there needs to be a balance. It is weirdly reassuring that completely different religions and cultures have such similar ideas.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that on Wikipedia’s evil eye page, Assyrians and ass pinching are mentioned (though it was probably one of my cousins that added it).
So go forth and when you get that job promotion or get an A on that test, theesa moocha!