7 Bizarre Superstitions From Around the World

Wed, 11 Nov 2020

Growing up, you might find it common that people knock on wood for luck, or avoid opening umbrellas indoors because they believe it brings bad luck. Those beliefs that are passed down from generations are called superstitions. Some people choose to believe them, and some don’t, as most of them are based on ancient mythologies and lack of scientific logic behind it. 


Nevertheless, we may unconsciously follow these superstitions because our surroundings do so as well, or just simply to avoid unwanted things from happening. It really is up to one’s choice to believe in those superstitions, or not. 


The fascinating thing is that countries have various beliefs that differ among others, and some of them might seem weird or unusual, but hey, isn’t it always interesting to learn about each culture’s point of view? 


To answer your curiosities, here are 7 bizarre superstitions around the world and the meanings behind them!


1. Philippines : “Pagpag” Tradition


The term “Pagpag” means “to shake off dust or dirt” that also serves as a superstition Filipinos believe that one should never go straight home after attending a funeral. The reason behind said superstition is that it is believed that an evil spirit might follow the person home. Instead, they should stop in a restaurant, a convenience store, or practically anywhere besides their houses to “confuse” the spirits so they won’t go home with the mourner! 


Fun fact : They also believe that one should only visit one funeral in a day, otherwise it might bring bad luck, or even death upon themselves or their family members!


2. India : No Haircuts on Thursdays and Saturdays! 


Feel like going to the barber on a Thursday or a Saturday? Based on an Indian legend, getting a haircut, or even cutting your nails on those days brings bad luck. Locals believe that the planet Saturn, usually known as “Shani” in India, might bring misfortune as the act angers them. This belief is also based on an astrological point of view that since Saturn is the key to both life and death, cutting your hair and nails might reduce your life by 7 months. On a side note, it is also suggested to not cut them after sunset, since it is believed to also bring bad luck!


3. Russia : Avoid Yellow Flowers as a Gift Choice!


Russians take flowers very seriously! Their culture believes that aside from the beauty a flower gives off, each of them holds a specific meaning. If you were to give flowers to a Russian, they would most likely look into your choice of flowers by the color! 


An important thing to take note of is that yellow flowers are a definite no-no. They believe that the color yellow symbolizes sadness, unfaithfulness, and break-ups. So, to be safe, avoid giving your date a yellow bouquet of flowers! Instead, giving flowers with bright colors such as white, red, and pink that represents a strong, loving feeling towards someone. 


4. Rome : The Misfortune of a Broken Mirror


Breaking a mirror, in ancient Roman belief, serves as a bad connotation that might bring one seven years of bad luck! The belief came from a Roman mythology stating that every seven years, life would rejuvenate itself, and any “broken parts” such as health issues would be healed. Hence, if one is the last thing a mirror reflects before it breaks, then they are said to be “cursed” with seven years of bad luck before the curse breaks, and the good luck renewed. 


5. Britain and North America : Saying “Rabbit Rabbit” for a Month of Good Luck


One of the common superstitions in Britain and North America is to say “Rabbit rabbit” on the first day of every month to ensure good luck to come along. Why rabbits, though? 


For over 2000 years, rabbits are considered a symbol of fortune, fertility, and life. Moreover, they were also believed to be connected to the spirits of the underworld as they live underground. So, if you plan on winning a lottery, ace a difficult test, or just need a bit of luck your way, it doesn’t hurt to give it a try! 


Fun fact : Even president Franklin Delano Roosevelt admitted to reciting “Rabbit rabbit” each month, and also carrying a rabbit’s foot for good luck!


6. German : Avoid Toasting with a Glass of Water


Saying “cheers” while clinking glasses is a common thing to do at dinner parties. However, the Germans believe that even toasting with nothing inside your glass is better than having water inside it. The belief is that if you were to toast with water in the glass, you are wishing death or misfortune to the people you toasted with. The meaning behind this superstition is based on a Greek mythology that the dead used to drink from the River Lethe in the underworld to forget their past mortal lives. Hence, the Greeks are used to toasting to the dead with glasses filled with water to represent their journey through the river to the underworld.


7. South Korea : Fan Death 


Sleeping with a running fan in a closed room in South Korea is commonly feared as “fan death”, that might be fatal. Aside from being a superstition, some actually believe that fans might be a cause of death. Back in 1927 when the new technology of fans came in, stories were published in the local newspaper about fans that have potentials to create medical-related problems such as nausea and facial paralysis. Therefore, especially in the summers, it is suggested to leave the window open or use an air conditioner instead. 


So, Which One Seems Like The Most Unique to You? 


These superstitions are mostly stemmed from ancient cultures and beliefs, and there are countless others that we have yet to find out! 


Additionally, learning a country’s background and culture will be very much easier if you understood the local language, and Lingotalk is here to provide you with a fun and effective way of learning to boost your skills!


 Ready to uncover stories to an array of interesting cultures? Start your language learning journey here in Lingotalk!

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