European Superstitions


“The creation of the United States of Europe is a necessity if we consider the economic and technical situation. Whether the union suffice to peace and security can not be predicted by anyone with certainty, but I think a “yes” is more likely than a “no.””

Albert Einstein

Europe - Superstitions - illustrationIn Europe, we all share common superstitions : walking under a ladder, seeing a black cat, breaking a mirror, opening an umbrella indoors, all those widespread superstitions are told to bring bad luck. Others are told to bring good luck, such as the four leaf clover or the number 7. But apart from these common references, we also have individual superstitions at national level which are the results of cultural and folkloric events or traditions. Some of them can be really funny, even if it is difficult to understand how people could have come to that superstition. In Serbia, if you bite your tongue, this means that your grandmother plans to bake a cake for you… In Lithuania, a bird shitting on you will bring you luck ! So why complaining ? Superstitions show then the little difference between our cultures better than many other indicators. Let’s enjoy them !

European Superstitions

Portugal

Portugal - Superstitions - spilling wineSpilling wine on the table brings good luck while walking backwards brings bad luck…

In Portugal, it brings bad luck to walk backwards, because it teaches the devil the way you’re walking. The left foot is in particular unlucky, and it is always better to leave a room or enter a house with the right feet. 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. In Portugal, as in other neighbor countries, leaving a hat on once bed brings bad luck. Other superstitions deal with good luck. For instance, if you dress some clothes on reverse by chance, you’ll receive a gift soon or if it rains and the sun is shining, it means a widow is getting married. A piece of bread with a symbol of a saint is also said to call for luck. If you spill wine on the table, it brings happiness to the whole house.

Spain

Spain - superstition - cricketHearing a cricket brings good luck while being a Tuesday 13th brings bad luck…

Spaniards believe that Tuesday 13th and not Friday 13th is an unlucky day (“On Tuesday 13th, don´t get married, nor board [a ship or plane]”). “Tuesday” (“Martes” in Spanish) is a word derived from the name of Mars, which in the Middle Ages was called “little evil” and meant violence, tension and aggression. Mars is the god of war, so Tuesday is ruled by Mars, the god of destruction, blood and violence. Additionally, legend said that the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel occurred on a Tuesday 13. Another common belief is that it brings bad luck to enter a room with a left foot. It is said that a lighter shouldn’t be shared among more than three people. 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. It is also believed that chimneys should always be capped or witches might climb down it. It is also recommended not to bring a used broom from your previous house to your new house, or it will bring misfortune. However, if you hear or see a cricket? Rejoice: That’s great luck!

France 

France - Superstition - Pompom MarinTouching the red pompom of a sailor’s beret brings luck while putting bread upside down on the table heralds bad luck…

In France, seeing a spider in the evening might come with a good scream, but it also heralds good luck ! It also brings luck to touch the red pompom of a sailor’s beret.  If you step in dog poo with your left foot, good luck (as well as a bad smell) will follow. It brings bad luck in France to have 13 guests at the table. Superstition related to number 13 goes back to the Last Supper where the guests were thirteen at the table and ended with the drama that we know. Another explanation is that porcelain services are usually composed of 12 plates: the thirteenth guest who would end up with a mismatched plate would feel unloved. 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. It also brings bad luck to put new clothes on a Friday. Another superstition is that if your ears are buzzing, it means that someone is gossiping on you, maybe even from far away.

Iceland

Iceland - Superstition - Moving House rainingMoving to a new house on a rainy day brings luck while white calf born in winter heralds bad weather…

Superstition has remained an important part of Icelandic culture since the island’s settlement. Today national polls suggest that many Icelanders still believe that they co exist with a race of hidden people on the island, and some even claim to have seen the hidden people. Other common superstitions are still quite vivid on the Island. For example, if you move to a new house, make sure you do so on a rainy day, because it will bring you wealth. Pay also attention to your sneezing. If you sneeze three times before breakfast on a Sunday, you will get some reward that week! Other presages bring bad luck : if the first calf born during the winter is white, the winter will be a bad one! or if you look at the cows and they are licking trees, it will be raining soon! In late winter it is also forbidden to knit on the doorstep, as that is known to lengthen the winter. According to Icelandic superstitions, if sheep gnash their teeth during round-up in the autumn, that winter will be harsh. Conversely, if sheep gnash their teeth any other time or season, it still equates awful weather!

Ireland

Ireland - Superstitions - Four Leaf CloverFinding a Shamrock brings good luck while killing a robin brings bad luck…

Ireland is full of superstitions. The first one may be the four-leaf clover (or shamrock) which is considered rare or hard to find, so that Irish people came to think that it would bring luck. This is now a special symbol in Ireland because of its emerald green color that may have earned for Ireland the label “Emerald Isle”. Other superstitions are less famous, but not less important : coming across a crowing hen or a whistling girl are both bringing bad luck. If you meet a funeral on the road you shall turn and walk with the funeral party for at least four steps to warn off bad luck. Never ask a man going fishing where he is going ! And anyone that kills a robin will have a life full of misery. If a robin comes in to your house its a sign someone will die too. If you open your front door and are greeted by a magpie and it looks at you. Then there is absolutely nothing you can do : this is a sure sign of death. Hope you don’t have robins or magpies around ! If you stand up and your chair falls over you’re in for bad luck ! In the folklore, it is also said that the seventh son of a seventh son has the power over all diseases and can cure them by laying hands.

United-Kingdom

United-Kingdom - Superstitions - White RabbitRepeating “white rabbits” the first day of the month brings luck while seeing a magpie brings misfortune…

In the United Kingdom, it brings luck to pronounce “white rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits” on the first day of the month before saying anything else. And every leaf you catch falling in autumn will bring you the next year one lucky month each. It is also said that it brings luck if you cut your hair when the moon is waxing. It’s unlucky to see one magpie, but it is lucky to see two… If you have a series of nightmares, put a pair of scissors under you pillow. That will get rid of the nightmare. In the United Kingdom, leaving a white tablecloth on a table overnight is said to bring bad luck. It is also strongly recommended to push the spoon through the bottom of the empty shell when you finish eating a boiled egg, so as to let the devil out. And if a sparrow enters your house, it means death to one who lives in the house. Englishmen refuse to pronounce the word “egg” on the sea, as it is regarded as a bad omen. And last but not least, if you drop a table knife expect a male visitor, if you drop a fork, expect a female visitor.

Norway

Norway - Superstitions - Christmas porridgeSaying “Tvi Tvi” to a friend brings good luck, while whistling towards the sun brings bad luck…

If you want to avoid misfortune in Norway, you should set a plate of Christmas porridge outside the door, to sweeten the old, small barn trolls. Good luck is also given to someone by saying ’Tvi, tvi’. This expression was used to put a curse on someone that you liked.  The superstition was that if somebody had already cursed you then the evil spirits had no reason to bother you.  It was usually used as a friendly good-bye, or a send off to a journey. Nowadays the expression is used when wishing someone good luck before they go on stage.  Instead of saying ‘break a leg’ in Norway  you say ‘tvi, tvi’. Other superstitions are more linked to bad luck. A young Norwegian lady  should not knit a sweater for her boyfriend, because then he will leave her.  There are also some beliefs connected with nature. When you come to Norway, don’t whistle towards the sun because that will cause rain. When the rowan trees carry lots of berries, there will be little snow in the winter, because it’s said that the rowan tree shouldn’t have to carry two heavy burdens. Norwegians also believe that if there’s ice on the lakes on May Day, Spring will be late.

Sweden

Sweden - Superstitions - MitesMites are told to bring luck while heather is said to bring misfortune…

To prevent something nasty from happening, Swedes simply knock on wood while reciting “Pepper, pepper touch wood” (“peppar, peppar ta i trä”) so they’re not jinxed. There is also another way to prevent misfortune : if you don’t mind mites, try to spot one – not two or more, just one sole little critter. Do this, and you’re promised fortune and luck. Sneezing doesn’t only spread disease – it also means that your enemy has mentioned your name and fortunately the Swedes have found a means to combat such terrible luck. Just say “prosit”. However, other superstitions are less happy. According to Swedish superstition, heather is told to bring death ! If you’re strolling in the picturesque Swedish nature, and think a nice bunch of heather would brighten up your home, please don’t do it. And leaving your keys on a table in Sweden is bad luck. On Friday the thirteenth, a hushed and eerie whisper is heard spreading along the streets of Sweden to not step on a crack in the street. If you do it will bring terrible, irrevocable misfortunes. And for Swedes, walking under a ladder is told to bring exactly three weeks of bad luck…

Finland

Finland - Superstitions - Flowers under pillowPutting 7 different kinds of flowers under the pillow on St John’s night brings good luck while killing a spider brings bad luck…

In the folklore of Finland, coffee has  been utilized as a means of fortune-telling. People used to believe that they could foretell the future from the froth that formed on their coffee’s surface. If a bubble formed on the drink’s surface after it had been poured into the cup, and if the bubble moved towards the drinker, it meant more money. If the bubble moved away from the drinker, it meant they would lose money. It is also said that cold coffee makes beautiful (even if it is disgusting), and if the coffee is served too hot, it means that the hostess is angry. Finns also think that someone is thinking of you when your nose is tickling or when you turn red or when a piece of superfluous thread exceeds your clothes. It is even said that after having seen 100 red cars, the license plate of the hundredth car reveals the initial of your future lover. On St. John’s night, it is recommended put 7 different kinds of flowers  under your pillow to reveal the identity of your future lover in your dreams. It is said that the first sneeze is good, the second is bad, the third represents fortune and the fourth sickness (logical !) Other superstitions include : killing a spider is said to bring rain the next day, leaving an open book upside down is said to make disappear the information it contains…

Denmark

Denmark - Superstitions - Broken DishesThrowing broken dishes on your friends’ doorstep brings good luck while hoisting the danish flag at night brings bad luck…

In Denmark, people will save their old and broken dishes throughout the year to be thrown on their friends and families doors on New Year’s Eve. It is considered good luck to find thrown dishes on your doorstep on the next morning. Danish culture states that the Danish flag is not allowed to touch the ground because it came from heaven. It also states that it is not allowed to be hoisted at night, because it is said that such is to salute the Devil. It is also said that if you see a black and white crow flying towards the sea, you can be certain that you future lover will come from the sea..

Netherlands

Netherlands - Superstitions - Dark Haired ManMeeting dark haired men on New Year’s day heralds good luck while lending salt brings bad luck…

In the Netherlands, singing at the dinning table means singing to the devil for your supper : it brings bad luck ! Lending salt or fire is also said to bring bad luck.Another interesting superstition is one concerning New Year’s Eve : the first person to enter your house on New Year’s day will, if he be light haired, bring bad luck to you, if dark haired, good luck. The presence of a pair of storks or swallows is also seen as sign of good luck and friendship. Another old Dutch superstition say that whatever you do on New Year’s Day is what you will be doing rest of the year (beware of hangovers). In the Netherlands, it is said that one should hang a piece of cloth of an ill person in a tree for him to recover (for Saint Willibrord; called ‘koortsboom’ or ‘lapjesboom’). When Dutch people say something bad, they knock on the wood or knock on somewhere hard about three times. One also says that if you make a funny face in the mirror when the church bells ring, your face will be like that forever. If a lock of your hair burns bright and long, you will have a happy life of seventy years or more, but if it burns weakly and soon goes out your life will be both sad and short…

Belgium

Belgium - Superstitions - WhistlingWhistling brings fortune (and a girlfriend) while throwing out a cradle brings misfortune…

In Belgium, there are different beliefs according to the regions. According to old superstitions from Wallonia, it is not recommended to sweep dirt out of your home, because you could “sweep” luck. It is also said that sewing white linen with black thread attracts death. Throwing out a cradle brings bad luck. In the past, it was thought that if a child is born with this placenta on the head, he will be really lucky in life. Picking poppies is said to attract lightning. But nothing more interesting than this funny superstition : if your bum tickles it means that you will  soon eat pie. In Flanders, it is said that “Boys who whistle, get a girl with fortune”. An old Flemish belief maintained that a sneeze during conversation proved the truth of a remark. And according to an old tradition, one should place a coin under once plate at New Years’ Eve to be lucky for the coming year.

Germany

Germany - Superstitions - Knocking on WoodKnocking on the table brings good luck while toasting with water brings bad luck…

In Germany, it is strongly forbidden to say “cheers,” or “Prost,” with water. Even for a joke. Because it is said you are literally wishing death to all your drinking buddies. In the same way, giving a German knives as a gift means that you are wishing them and everyone in their household injury and death. Is that what you want? Because that’s what it means… There are also a range of German superstitions related to old ladies, who are generally seen as evil. According to ancient medieval custom, one of the unluckiest things you can do is walk between two of them on the road. On the contrary, it is expected to bring good luck to knock on your table when drinking with your buddies. According to legend, this is because the Stammtisch, the regulars’ table in the tavern, was traditionally made of oak. Since the devil is unable to touch oak, considered a holy tree, knocking on it proved you weren’t the devil. 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. And finally, the traditional gift at a housewarming party is bread and salt. It will make sure that your new hosts will never be hungry in their new home.

Austria

Austria - Superstitions - Sliced Garlic YogurtEating raw sliced garlic mixed up with yogurt brings good luck (yuk!) while telling dreams before drinking of water brings bad luck… 

In Austria, mentioning how much success you have, may cause bad luck. It is also considered unlucky to enter the house with the left foot forward. It also attract misfortune to ride behind a bobtailed horse at a funeral. A man of a woman who sneezes while looking at the new moon will be unlucky. And it is unlucky to sneeze before breakfast or to tell dreams before taking a drink of water. According to Austrian superstitions, the no-fail remedy shall be sliced garlic, mixed and downed with yogurt, while still raw. Yuck

Italy

Italy - Superstitions - Number 13Encountering the number 13 is considered lucky while encountering the number 17 is regarded as a bad omen…

Italians are particularly fond of superstitions. It is for instance considered a good bit of feline fortune if you happen to hear a cat sneeze. The number 13 is considered lucky in Italy, as it is thought to bring prosperity and life. However, Italians dislike the number 17 so much that some hotels don’t have a 17th level ! Some Alitalia planes even have no row 17 and Friday 17th is considered an unlucky day… When viewed as the Roman numeral, XVII, it is then changed anagrammatically to VIXI, which in the Latin language it translates to “I have lived”, the perfect implying “My life is over.” Another interesting Italian superstitions takes the form of a strong recommendation : “Singles, don’t let a broom touch your feet when someone is cleaning the floors. If you do, you will never be swept off your feet and get married”. In Italy, to prevent a lousy turn of fortune people practice “tocca ferro” and touch iron if they think something bad is going to occur. Another way to protect yourself against ill fate is to make the sign of the horns. To form “le corna,” first make a fist and then unfurl only your index and little fingers to point them at the ground… You are now fully aware of how to behave in Italy !

Czech Republic

Czech Republic - Superstitions - Throwing shoesThrowing a shoe over your shoulder brings luck but pouring beer in an inappropriate mug brings bad luck…

In Czech Republic, throwing a shoe over your shoulder brings luck, though not for the person who might be standing behind you ! Breaking a glass is also meant to bring good luck. So as a uniquely Czech custom which tells the bride to break a plate to bring good luck. The luck being that the new groom should sweep it up. Fragments should then be distributed to the guests, the newlyweds keeping one piece for themselves. Spiders in the house are also lucky and eggs laid and bread baked on December 25th are believed to have magical powers. Apples cut horizontally through the core can predict good luck – if  the seeds are arranged in a five pointed star – or death – if they form a cross. You should also never pour a different kind of beer in a mug holding the remnants of another brew as bad luck is sure to follow… Other superstitions include not writing a love letter on Christmas Eve. Otherwise bad luck will follow. There is an old superstition that if anyone leaves the dinner table early, they will die the following year… Pay attention next time !

Slovakia

Slovakia - Superstitions - Throwing WaterThrowing waters to girls (on special occasions!) brings good luck while killing spiders brings bad luck…

Killing spiders is considered to bring bad luck in Slovakia. Whenever you see one making itself comfortable in your own house, you are supposed to take it and set it free in the nature…. In the Christmas celebration, it is commonly assumed that people should place fish scales under the dinner plates for prosperity. Another strange superstition occurs on Easter Monday, which marks the arrival of spring. In each village, the boys hit (symbolically) the girls, or throw them water. In return, the girls decorate and give them an egg, a ribbon, sweets, or, more commonly today, few coins. This is said to bring luck, even though not really gender friendly… By the end of winter is also celebrated the Morena, a “straw model straw” representing the Slavic goddess of death, which is burned and thrown into the water….

Poland

Poland - Superstitions - Chimney SweepSeeing a chimney-sweep brings luck while putting a handbag on the floor brings misfortune…

Poland has some lucky charms too. It is widely believed in Poland that if you see a chimney-sweep, you have to grab your button (hopefully you have one at that particular moment – on your clothes, bag, etc). According popular belief, it’s only by doing so that you will be guaranteed good luck.   Another widespread superstition in Poland is “knocking on wood”. If you want to succeed in something or are afraid of a sudden change of fortune, you could do worse than knock on wood to scare bad luck away. It is also quite popular to kick students who enter examination rooms and to blow one’s fingers for luck.  As regards bad luck, a popular superstition says that if a woman puts her handbag on the floor, she will have no money. It is also considered bad luck to have a wedding in May…

Lithuania

Lithuania - Superstitions - Bird ShittingA bird shitting on you brings good luck while shaking hands through a threshold brings bad luck but…

In Lithuania, everybody knows that whenever you light a cigarette (or anything for that matter) from a candle, a sailor dies. It is also strongly forbidden to introduce yourself or shake hands through a threshold. it brings bad luck. Lithuanian also advice you not to sit at the corner of a table if you wish to marry soon – otherwise, you will have to wait seven years ! Walking on manholes is also bad luck, unless someone immediately knocks on your back once (obviously). However, one very popular way to avoid bad luck is to spit over your left shoulder three times. If a bird shits on you, or if you accidentally step in shit (any old shit will do) – you’ll be (filthy) rich! The ‘smithereens’ (ie broken pieces) of a mirror are good luck, but if you look into a broken mirror, you’ll lose your beauty. However, if you get a blemish on your nose, it means someone has fallen in love with you. Isn’t it cute ?

Latvia

Latvia - Superstitions - Eating FishEating fish on New Year’s Eve brings luck while putting gloves on a table brings misfortune…

Latvians have longstanding traditions and superstitions, which are mostly connected to their pagan roots. This can be observed not only during the midsummer festival, St. John’s day but also in the everyday life. In Latvia, many things can bring bad luck : whistling inside a room will for example invite the devil. You should also always have a bit of money with you, because if your wallet is empty, the devil will come and shit into it. No kidding ! Putting gloves on a table will also bring misfortune. and if someone wants to present you a sharp object (a knife or similar), it is maybe better to give him a symbolic amount of money in return to avoid bad luck. There are however superstitions for good luck : If you eat fish on New Year’s Eve and put the fish scales into your wallet, then money will keep flowing into it during the year. “Darling, could we go out to eat some fish on the 31st of December ?” Another common belief is that if you left your home but you need to return, because there’s something you forgot: you should look into the mirror to find it back. And last but not least, some Latvians think that if you wear your clothes inside out, you’ll get drunk faster…

Estonia

Estonia - Superstitions - Bride ribbonsA bride dropping ribbons or money into each room of her house brings good luck while whistling indoors brings bad luck…

Estonians share most of their superstitions with Latvians and Lithuanians. Then a knife dropped on the floor heralds also in Estonia a visit by a male person, and a bag laid on the floor is also an omen for loss of money. It is in Estonia also really not recommended to shake hands at the doorsteps or whistle indoors. It is said that a baby born on the last day of the week will marry late in life or never marry at all. If you eat a cake and a piece of it falls down then you won’t get married. As the bride enters her new home, she should be led through every part of the house while she drops ribbons or money into each room; doing this will guarantee happiness to the newlyweds. Another common custom occurs when two people say the same thing at the same time. Both parties must instantly make a wish, lock pinky fingers and count to three out loud. After ‘three,’ each person says either ‘Adomas’ or ‘Iewa’ (Adam or Eve); if you both say the same thing – your wishes come true.

Belarus

Belarus - Superstitions - SpeakingPronouncing the same word at the same time with a friend brings good luck while cleaning the house after a friend’s departure brings bad luck…

In Belarus, there are plenty of funny superstitions related to good and bad luck. If you stumble with your right leg for instance, and your birthday is an odd day, or if you stumble with your left leg, and your birthday is an even day, this means luck. Got it ? Or : if you stumble with your right leg, and your birthday is an even day, or if you stumble with your left leg, and your birthday is an odd day, this means bad luck… Now just make the test. Another superstition says that you should never clean the house when someone left from it until the person has reached his/her final destination (especially for long trips). By doing so, you are cleaning the person out of your house and he/she will never come back there. In Belarus, if you said the same word(s) at the same time (unisony) with another person, you should touch something black, make a wish in your mind and ask the person who said the same word(s) with you when your wish will come true… It works… sometimes…

Ukraine

Ukraine - Superstitions - Breaking DishesBreaking dishes brings good luck while passing a priest in the morning brings bad luck…

Ukraine superstitions play a significant role in the social life. Before entering a newly built house, it is strongly recommended to send a cat in first to greet the house spirit. And before leaving a house for a long time journey (even for a couple of days), everyone in the house is asked to sit for a minute in silence. In Ukraine, it’s good luck to break a dish. Ukrainians believe that if your right palm itches you’re going to spend money, but if your left palm itches you’re going to receive some money. When it comes to bad luck, Ukrainians have a lot of superstitions : for instance, do not return into the house once you’ve started on your way from it. But if you have to, then look into a mirror. Otherwise you’ll have a bad journey. Make also sure that all your debts are settled before 31st December; otherwise you will be in debt for the whole of the next year. And never throw bread crumbs in the trash or you’ll go hungry. One should not prepare a room for a baby, and buy cloth during pregnancy. The baby should be born first. It is finally unlucky to come across a strange dog first thing in the morning, and if someone passes a priest, or an elderly woman with an empty pail, he must not speak to either of them or he will have bad luck that day….

Romania – Moldova

Romania - Superstitions - Spilling CoffeeSpilling coffee brings goof luck while blowing a candle brings bad luck…

Romania is a very superstitious nation. It brings luck in Romania to get as a present a new pair of gloves. It brings luck also to have seven letters in your name. Before leaving, the person should sit down on the suitcase because it means you are ready for travel and look forward to it. If you spill your coffee it means you will receive money from somewhere. A red string or a red bracelet is usually placed on a newborns wrist in order to protect them from bring cursed. And, even more funny, it is believed by Romanians that eating the corners from bread will create a good relationship with your mother-in-law ! But other superstitions are told to bring bad luck. In Romania, both Tuesday and Friday 13 are considered unlucky and not satisfied with the occasional ill starred day, the Romanians dish up three unlucky hours every Tuesday ! Other beliefs include that one should not blow out a candle. It has to be done with the hand, otherwise, it is said that a sailor dies. It also brings bad luck to cut your hand nails on Sunday and wash your hair on a Tuesday… Why then ? Don’t know…

Hungary

Hungary - Superstitions - Clothes Upside-DownPutting your clothes upside-down brings good luck while toasting with beers brings bad luck…

First and foremost, Hungarians do not toast with beers. It is said to bring bad luck. This is due to an old tradition due to remembering soldiers killed in the 1848 revolution, whereby it was decreed no Hungarian would toast with beer for 150 years. Keeping a cactus in the house is also said to bring bad luck. There are also a lot of superstitions associated with babies : if a finger or a toe nails of an infant are cut previous to the age of 12 months, it will prove to be a thief in mature age. If someone visits a baby but doesn’t sit down, he will take away the dreams of the baby. A baby’s foot mustn’t be kissed because it will be difficult for him to learn to walk afterwards. In the past, Hungarians used to shoot over the head of the woman in labour to ward off evil spirits. If a statement is followed by a sneeze of one of the hearers, it is regarded as confirmation of its truth. When you meet a chimney sweeper, your wish will come true. Seeing a wedding procession is also said to bring luck in love. So as putting on your clothes inside out which is said to bring luck. And if you get hiccups, it means that somebody is gossiping about you.

Slovenia

Slovenia - Superstitions - CuckooHearing a cuckoo singing brings luck, while seeing a black rat brings bad luck…

In Slovenia, it brings luck to see a spider, an elephant, a pig, a cuckoo or a ladybird. Slovenians also believe that when a cuckoo sings, it brings wealth to those who at the time have money in their pocket. As in many countries, it brings bad luck to see a black cat, but it brings happiness to see a white cat ! If you see a dove (pigeon) sing/coo/chirp around a house, the owners are soon to be blessed with a child. On the contrary, you shouldn’t cradle a baby’s carriage or the devil will settle in it. It is considered as a bad omen to kill a spider, to see a black rat or an owl. If you hear hammering on New Year’s Eve, somebody is going to die that year and if you see your shadow on the wall without its head, someone is likely to die… Sad you said?

Croatia

Italy - Superstitions - Number 13Encountering number 13 brings good luck while cutting your nails on sundays brings bad luck…

The draft, or propuh, is an indispensable part of life in Croatia and much of the Balkans. A breeze blowing from one end of the apartment to the other, or a chilly wind on a cloudy day can result in all kinds of ailments. The draft is responsible for everything from muscle aches, headaches, colds, to infections or even inflammation of the brain. There are also other croatian superstitions. It is for instance not recommended to cut your nails on sundays, it is said to bring bad luck. You should also avoid brushing your hair while in bed or someone will become sick. Never open two windows across from each other, it is a bad omen. Giving a knife will cut the friendship in half. By giving something back (even a penny) the knife has been paid for. And please : do not light your cigarette from candles, it is said that it kills a sailor… You are not lucky if you are left-handed in Croatia, as it is a sign of the devil ! On the contrary the number 13 is considered as a lucky day,

Serbia – Bosnia and Herzegovina

Serbia - Superstitions - Bitting TongueBitting your tongue and you will get a cake, but whistling indoors attract rats…

There are lots of funny superstitions in Serbia. For instance, if you bite your tongue or cheek by accident, your granny is planning to bake for you ! Lucky you are ! If you put on a t-shirt inside-out unwittingly, it means that someone is missing you. And if you put on underwear inside-out by mistake, you’ll be followed by good luck. There are also superstitions related to physical appearances : having long fingers means you’ll probably become a thief or that you’ll steal something and having a v-shaped hairline on your forehead means you’ll be a widow (widow’s peak)… And always make sure you call a newborn baby ugly. If you say it’s sweet or beautiful, the infant will be plagued with bad luck or illness.  If you whistle while in someone’s house (or your own), you will attract mice and rats. And last but not least, when travelling carry a clove of garlic in your baggage to ensure that you have no problems  with the customs at border crossings… We understand now where this smell comes from…

Albania

Albania - Superstitions - ToyPutting toys on new buildings avoid misfortune while the evil eye brings bad luck…

Albanians can be really superstitions. Some are said to have the “gift” of telling fortunes through the residue at the bottom of the coffee cup. This is the Turkish coffee that leaves a large amount of coffee at the bottom of the cup (and in your stomach I would imagine!). Then there are many different things to ward off the “evil eye”( Albanian “syri i keq” Turkish “nazar”). The “evil eye” is a belief that someone has “evil” powers and can curse you just by looking at you. o ward off this evil, people will put cuddly toys on new buildings so that anyone with the ability to curse, will look at the cuddly toy rather than the building or the family in the building, and as a result a curse is not cast on those that live there.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria - Superstitions - Splashing waterSplashing some water brings good luck while sewing a dress on yourself brings bad luck…

In Bulgaria, when someone leaves the house for travel, or for every important days, such as weddings, the first day of a new job, the last day at school, people throw some water, for instance a cup of water, and say “everything goes like on water” (Да ти / ви върви по вода). This means good luck, or in case of a travel that all the things in the person’s absence will run smoothly like water flows. Bulgarians, when they buy a new house, they believe they should let first a cat walk into the house and where the cat lays down, one should put the bed. This is the best place in the house. In Bulgaria, it brings bad luck to sew a dress on yourself (Да шиеш дрехата върху себе си) or to left back some bread (Хлябът не се оставя на обратно) ! If two friends are passing through both sides of a tree, they have to say “hi”, or they will be a quarrel (Като 2-ма приятели минат от двете страни на едно дърво, трябва да си кажат “здрасти”, иначе ще се скарат). It is also recommended not to take the last piece of food (bread, cookie, meat) from a plate – this is called the shame piece. But, when someone offers you to take it, it is good to take it. It brings good luck.  And if you talk while you drop something, this means that your are lying… Got it ?

Macedonia

Germany - Superstitions - Knocking on WoodKnocking three times on wood brings good luck, while not eating the last piece of food brings misfortune…

In Macedonia, if you knock on wood three times, nothing bad will happen to you. The last piece of bread or food is lucky, if you don’t eat it you will have bad luck. The evening before the Lent the oldest member of the family ties an egg to a string and the rest of the family tries to catch it with the mouth. If you catch the eff, it will bring you good fortune. If you drink water from the shell, you will send ill spirits away. If you burn the string, you will be able to count the years you’ll live. If a girl puts the wheat that she has taken from a church on the first Friday of the Lent, under her pillow, she will dream of her future husband. O n the 20th of December, if you pull your children’s head upwards, they will start growing more because on that day the length of day time is starting to grow. It is believed that if you bathe your children with the water where you dyed the first Easter egg, they will be healthy and strong. And if you take anything (money, belongings or clothes) out of your house on the last Monday before Easter, you will send your good fortune away…

Greece

Greece - Superstitions - Evil EyeThe evil eye is told to bring bad luck while blue wards off the evil eye…

The most commonly talked about ancient superstition in the Greek Isles is the evil eye. The evil eye can strike at any given moment. Perhaps there was an occasion that you were dressed up and someone told you how nice you look. A few minutes later you spilled coffee down the front of you, Or maybe someone told you how beautiful your new vase was and a while later it fell to the ground shattering in a thousand pieces… Blue is the colour that wards off the evil of the eye, but it is also commonly thought that blue eyed people are exceptional givers of it. Other superstitions vary not only from Island to Island, but in between the Villages as well. Bat bones are a good example. For some Island folk, bat bones are considered to be very lucky. These people carry a small bit of the bone in their pockets or purses with them where ever they go. The only problem is getting the bone as it is supposed to be very bad luck to kill a bat. Other Islanders believe quite the opposite. They think that bats are unholy creatures and should be avoided at all costs, and would never dream of carrying a piece of one as a talisman. The pomegranate is also a symbol of happy times, fertility and prosperity in Greek folklore, and in some parts of Greece people take a pomegranate with them when they visit people on New Year’s Eve and smash it on the threshold, so that the household will have good luck… Crows are considered omens of bad news, misfortune and death and it is Tuesday the 13th of the month that is considered unlucky in Greece…

Turkey

Turkey - Superstitions - Scratching ButtScratching your butt preserves good luck while cutting nails at night brings bad luck…

In Turkey, when somebody talks about good, lucky things, the others say that he sould scratch his butt in order to prevent bad things happen. When you sleep in a place where you stay for the first time, you should keep the house’s keys under your pillow, if you do so, you will see your future wife/husband in your dream. In order to guard against evil associated with envious or covetous eyes, they should wear or make available evil-eye bead in their clothes homes, everywhere they exist. When a baby is kissed under its foot, it is believed he will walk early. It is also believed that if you measure a baby’s length, the baby will remain short. Cutting your nails at night brings bad luck. It is also considered as ill-omen that a rabbit may pass in front of a car. To crack the joints of the fingers is accounted for telling beads to the Satan. Handing any cutting tool like knives or scissors to another person directly will cause the two individuals to fight. And really strange : if you’re chewing gum at night in Turkey, you’re actually chewing the flesh of the dead”.

 

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