Interesting Superstitions: From Around the World…

I have been brought up by my grandparents, so for me, superstitions was not out of the ordinary. I am not alone, no matter where you are from, you probably have a few superstitions of your own. Each culture, country and each time period comes with a set of weird behaviors and beliefs to promote good luck or ward of negativity. I am super intrigued by some of them across the world, which I have listed below:

China:

  1. The rice jar should never be empty, this causes grave anxiety, as the cessation of cooking during the New Year period is an ill omen.
  2. The cry of a child is believed to bring bad luck to the family, so parents do their best to keep children from crying by whatever means possible.
  3. It is a taboo for a person to brew herbal medicine or take medicine on the first day of the lunar year, otherwise it is believed he or she will get ill for a whole year.
  4. The number four is extremely unlucky (不幸的 – bú xìng de). This is because the pronunciation of four (四 – sì) sounds similar to the Chinese word for death (死 – sǐ). Therefore, many people choose to avoid the number four like the plague. It’s not uncommon to step into an elevator in China and notice that there’s no button for the 4th floor.
  5. When a person’s Zodiac animal will be the next year, this means that it will be a tough year for them. A solution to this superstition is that they will have to purchase red socks or underwear for a good year and to protect themselves.

United States of America:

  1. Find a penny, pick it up and all day you’ll have luck. This little ditty may arise because finding money is lucky in and of itself.
  2. A rabbit’s foot will bring you luck. Rabbit feet as talismans may hark back to early Celtic tribes in Britain. They may also arise from hoodoo, a form of African-American folk magic and superstition that blends Native American, European and African tradition.
  3. Touch wood; Medieval churches would be filled with wood that claimed to be from the cross. The devout believed that touching the wood would give them a link to the divine and, consequently, good luck. The superstition grew from there.
  4. Breaking a mirror is bad luck. The mirror was once considered to be divine and supernatural, and breaking the image was thought to violate its divinity.
  5. Four-leaf clovers are considered powerful. Clovers were once believed to keep away witches and allow the finder to see fairies. A four-leaf clover are rare and hence lucky if you found it!

Portugal:

  1. Spilling wine on the table brings good luck.
  2. The left foot is in particular unlucky, and it is always better to leave a room or enter a house with the right feet.
  3. If you choke it means someone wants what you’re having and if your left ear warms up, it means someone is saying something nasty about you.
  4. If you dress some clothes on reverse by chance, you’ll receive a gift soon .
  5. If it rains and the sun is shining, it means a widow is getting married.

Spain:

  1. A salt shaker should not be passed from hand to hand, instead it must be placed on the table for the other person to pick it up themselves.
  2. It is said that a lighter shouldn’t be shared among more than three people.

France:

    1. Seeing a spider in the evening might come with a good scream, but it also heralds good luck!
    2. If a person in France puts a loaf of bread upside down on the table, it is considered bad luck. This superstition dates back from the Middle Ages. Bakers were accustomed to prepare  a loaf of bread for the executioner. It was placed upside down so that customers knew it was for the executioner. That is why the bread when it is upside down attract misfortune and death.
    3. If your ears are buzzing, it means that someone is gossiping about you, maybe even from far away.

United Kingdom:

  1. Every leaf you catch falling in autumn will bring you the next year one lucky month each.
  2. Leaving a white tablecloth on a table overnight is said to bring bad luck.
  3. If a sparrow enters your house, it means death to one who lives in the house.

Germany:

  1. It is strongly forbidden to say “Cheers” or “Prost” with water, even as a joke, because it is said you are literally wishing death to all your drinking buddies.(Now we don’t want that to happen, do we?)
  2. It is also said that if you offer a new wallet to your friends, you should put a coin in it. This ensures that the recipient will never be poor.

Egypt

  1. Many Egyptians believe that hearing the sound of crows or ravens, especially during the day, means something bad will happen, even the sight of them is considered unpleasant.
  2. Originally an ancient Egyptian superstition, it is still an extremely common belief that leaving footwear upside down is just really wrong. Ancient Egyptians believed that doing so would insult the gods.
  3. It is often believed in Egypt that if you open scissors and close them again without cutting anything means something bad will happen.
  4. Originating in Egypt, but also present across the Arab world it is believed that the figure of the blue turquoise eye protects you from evil, as well as blue beads and the figure of a blue human palm. Turquoise in general is seen as a good sign.
  5. Also originally from ancient Egypt, there’s the belief that throwing salt over your left shoulder before you cook will fend off evil and make your food better.
  6. Ancient Egyptians believed that if you wake up someone suddenly their soul could separate from their body, that’s why it’s still seen as a bad sign if you’re woken up suddenly.
  7. While Western superstitions consider walking under a ladder a sign of bad luck, ancient Egyptians believed ladders could help them climb to heaven, it’s still seen by some as a sign of fortune.
  8. How spilling coffee and good luck can co-exist in the same sentence is both weird and amusing, but some Egyptians do believe that spilling a cup of coffee means you’re going to have a great day.

India

  1. Do not sleep with your head facing North to prevent cardiovascular diseases. They probably made this rule of sleeping with your head in the South because of the harmful effects related to blood pressure and other diseases that asymmetry with the Earth’s magnetic field would create.
  2. A girl shouldn’t do certain things while she is menstruating – giving women time to rest. The first sanitary napkins were invented in the year 1896, while commercial painkillers were not available before the 20th century. Before that, the five stressful days of menstruation which entail cramps and pain for many women were dealt with Indian medicines. Probably women did not work during those days because of discomfort and slowly this became a ritual and degraded to the form of a superstition.
  3. Eat curd and sugar before heading out – to keep a cool head. The tropical climate of India highly recommends the consumption of curd which has a cooling effect on the stomach. The sugar which is added in generous quantities, before someone is setting out for an important work, provides instant glucose. This combination is hence indispensable for Indians and so its consumption slowly linked itself to good luck.
  4. Plaster the floor with cow dung, which acts as a disinfectant. Cow dung plaster is considered auspicious just like any other product of a cow. Hence, mostly all rituals dictate the usage of cow dung to plaster the floor. Our ancestors probably started this practice to guard against insects and reptiles which are repelled by the pungent smell of cow dung. They did not have the luxury to buy bottled commercial disinfectants like we do. But over time this practice became a ritual and we find ourselves following it in spite of it being redundant in the contemporary world.
  5. Swallow Tulsi(Basil) leaves, never chew – Preventing degradation of the enamel. It is widely believed that Tulsi is Goddess Lakshmi’s avatar and hence one should not chew the leaves but directly swallow them. The actual science behind this is that though the Tulsi leaf is healthy, it contains a little amount of Arsenic. Thus chewing it directly causes the teeth to become yellow or results in the degradation of enamel

Every culture has its own set of traditions and beliefs passed down through the ages, and among the most amusing cultural beliefs are superstitions, which are often unique to each society. I enjoyed reading about them across the world, I jotted down a few interesting ones and I hope you enjoy reading them!

 

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