Common superstitions around the world

by Ross

In many countries, at the beginning of the year , some people act in an irrational way.  These acts are called superstitions. We can say that a superstition is a  belief opposite to reason: things happen because magic is involved. Could you tell us about a superstitions in your country?

Have you got any superstitions?

 BRITISH SUPERSTITIONS

" Good Luck

Lucky to meet a black cat. Black cats are featured on many good luck greetings cards and birthday cards in England; Lucky to touch wood; Lucky to find a clover plant with four leaves; A horseshoe over the door brings good luck. But the horse shoe needs to be the right way up. The luck runs out of the horse shoe if it is upside down; On the first day of the month it is lucky to say "white rabbits, white rabbits white rabbits," before uttering your first word of the day; Catch falling leaves in Autumn and you're have good luck. Every leaf means a lucky month next year.

Bad Luck

Unlucky to walk underneath a ladder; Seven years bad luck to break a mirror; Unlucky to see one magpie, lucky to see two, etc.; Unlucky to spill salt. If you do, you must throw it over your shoulder to counteract the bad luck; Unlucky to open an umbrella in doors; The number 13 is unlucky, Friday the thirteenth is a very unlucky day. Friday is considered to be an unlucky day because Jesus was crucified on a Friday; Unlucky to put new shoes on the table; Unlucky to pass someone on the stairs.

Food superstitions

When finished eating a boiled egg, push the spoon through the bottom of the empty shell to let the devil out. In Yorkshire, housewives used to believe that bread would not rise if there was a corpse (dead body) in the vicinity, and to cut off both ends of the loaf would make the Devil fly over the house!

Animal supestitions

Animals feature a lot in British superstitions as they do in superstitions around the world. One ancient British superstition holds that if a child rides on a bear's back it will be protected from whooping-cough. (Bears used to roam Britain but now they are not seen on our shores). In some parts of the UK meeting two or three Ravens together is considered really bad. One very English superstition concerns the tame Ravens at the Tower of London. It is believed if they leave then the crown of England will be lost. It is said to be badluck if you see bats flying and hear their cries. In the middle ages it was believed that witches were closely associated with bats. If a Sparrow enters a house it is an omen of death to one who lives there. In some areas it is believed that to avoid ill luck any Sparrow caught must be immediately killed otherwise the person who caught it will die. In some areas black Rabbits are thought to host the souls of human beings. White Rabbits are said to be really witches and some believe that saying 'White Rabbit' on the first day of each month brings luck. A common lucky charm is a Rabbit's foot, but not for the Rabbit. It is thought very unlucky to have the feathers of a Peacock within the home or handle anything made with them. This is possibly because of the eye shape present upon these feathers i.e. the Evil-Eye associated with wickedness. "  Information taken from:  www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/questions/superstitions.htm 

 Lemon and chillies charm  (Indian superstition), by Lekha

It is so common to find a string of lemons and chillies hanging on the doorway of shops, offices and homes. Doing this is supposed to ward off the evil eye and bring in good luck. People usually thread one lemon along with seven chillies. This ‘totka’ is said to bring prosperity. It is changed every Friday. It is also believed that if someone steps on one of the discarded totkas, he invites the evil influence that the charm has gathered. The idea behind hanging such a charm is that it keeps away ‘Alakshmi’ or the goddess of poverty who is considered inauspicious in Hindu mythology. Alakshmi is said to like sour and spicy things, so the lemon and chillies satisfy her and she does not enter the home or the establishment. In a way then, this charm is also a sort of appeasement to a goddess.

A Thai superstition, by Araya Paton

A long time ago Thailand was called Siam. When Thailand was Siam, New Year started on the 13th April. From 13th to 15th of April we had a festival for 3 days. We called it " Song   Grahn Festival ". Thai people go to the temple to pray, to give food to the monks in memory of dead people and to give good luck for the future. We do this in the morning and in the afternoon we pour water over sculptures of Buddha for good luck. We celebrate the Song  Grahn Festival by throwing water over each other. The temperature in April is mostly very hot and that is why we enjoy getting wet.  Some people put powder on their faces. It looks funny and men love to put powder on the faces of women! Also adults and children play games together for example skipping, bowling, a game with sticks and games with music. All the family are together for the New year. 

Date last modified: Wed 7th January 2015