18 Peculiar Superstitions That People Believe Around The World

Superstitions have been passed down through generations and reflect the cultures and histories found in societies all over the world. Let’s explore 18 of these fascinating superstitions that are sure to make you raise an eyebrow or two.

Irish brides wearing bells

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Mental Floss mentions a superstition about Irish brides wearing bells. Irish brides often include bells in their wedding attire or accessories and also within their bouquets. These bells are believed to bring good luck by warding off any malevolent spirits that may seek to disrupt the union.

Singing at the Dinner Table in the Netherlands

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Who knew that singing was a bad thing? The people of the Netherlands have a superstition that states it is discouraged to sing during dinner as it is believed to be similar to praising the devil for your meal.

Entering a room with your left foot in Spain

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In Spain, it is considered unlucky to enter a room with your foot first. To avoid misfortune, it is believed that you should step in with your right foot leading. When you visit Spain and you forget about this, there is a solution: making the sign of a cross 3 times as this is said to erase any bad luck. 

Japanese cemetery superstitions and thumbs

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It is said that to avoid bad luck at a graveyard, the Japanese have a practice that involves hiding thumbs while passing through graveyards. This is done to protect their parents. Since the word ‘thumb‘ directly translates as ‘parents’ finger’, they would prefer you tuck your thumbs into your fists any time you pass by a cemetery.

Turkish people don’t like to chew gum at night

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According to Turkish legends, chewing gum at night transforms it into the flesh of the deceased, serving as a cautionary tale. So, if you don’t want to chew the flesh of the dead after dark, stay away from gum. 

Luck in spilling water

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In countries such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran, there is a common folk tradition of spilling water for luck. It is believed that if you spill water behind someone who is embarking on a journey or has just started a new job, it will bring them fortune and ensure a successful outcome. 

Opening an umbrella indoors in Britain

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A very common superstition practiced in Britain is avoiding opening umbrellas indoors. Originating from two places; 18th century Britain, where this superstition advises against it to ward off bad luck, and another one that dates back to the Egyptian empire, where it was considered disrespectful to the Sun God if someone opened an umbrella in the shade or indoors.

Unlucky number 4 in China and numerology

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In China, people steer clear of the number 4 due to its resemblance to the word ‘death. The number has negative implications, which has resulted in the belief that it brings bad luck and is linked to misfortune and death. In numerology, the number 4 represents ‘four evils’ and the necessity of being cautious in all aspects of life. 

Russia’s yellow flowers

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Russia is well known for its flower shops on every corner. However, there is one superstition that they pay importance to or rather, one color of flower that they aren’t too fond of – Yellow flowers. In Russia, gifting someone with yellow flowers is frowned upon. It symbolizes death and infidelity, especially when given on a first date.

Koreans don’t sleep with a running fan

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A belief held in South Korea suggests that sleeping in an enclosed room with a fan can lead to a few things – hypothermia, high levels of carbon dioxide, and asphyxiation. This is what they call “fan death,” which suggests that sleeping in a room with an electric fan running overnight can lead to fatal consequences and could potentially result in someone’s demise.

Knocking or touching wood in Britain

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Especially in countries like Britain, people knock on wood a lot after saying something. This helps to ward off any misfortune associated with what they have mentioned or wished for. Knocking, tapping, or touching wood is a well-known tradition in many countries, which helps to reinstate a positive prediction. Similar traditions exist in other European countries too. More on that can be found on Wikipedia.

Italians and bad luck bread

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Besides their pasta and evil eye superstitions, Italians believe that placing bread upside down is disrespectful. Bread holds an important role in their tradition and is a representation of the body of Christ. When placed upside down, bread is considered unlucky and believed to invite the devil into your home.

Key superstitions and tables in Sweden

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In Sweden, people avoid placing keys on tables due to its association with prostitutes signaling potential clients. How this theory came about is unknown, but some sources mention that in the past, individuals involved in certain professions (prostitutes) would subtly convey their availability to clients by placing their keys on a table at a bar or a hotel. Parents often advise their daughters not to place their keys on tables, as it may give the wrong impression. 

Black cats are both good and bad

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To some, black cats are a symbol of good luck, and to others, they are associated with superstition and not of the good kind. It is not limited to any particular country, and many nationalities observe this belief. This is because black cats were linked to witches back in the day, i.e., they’re a symbol of something ominous. The ancient Egyptians, however, considered cats as ‘beings’ and symbols of protection, and harming them would result in severe consequences. 

Bad luck salt or pepper in Azerbaijan

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People in Azerbaijan consider it bad luck to spill salt or pepper. Unlike some cultures that encourage throwing salt over your shoulder to ward off bad luck, Azerbaijanis believe that spilled salt or pepper can lead to arguments. To resolve this situation, they believe in covering the spilled salt or pepper with sugar before sweeping it up.

Warding off evil using the eye in Greek

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In Greek and Turkish cultures, there is a belief in carrying amulets and good luck charms to ward off the ‘evil eye’. The superstition states that when someone looks at another person with envy or malice, it can cause harm or misfortune. To block this harmful gaze, which has the power to bring about illness, bad luck, or negative consequences, both cultures use talismans like blue amulets or charms with the symbol of an eye known as a “nazar.” 

A penny brings luck in the United States

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The United States has a belief that finding a penny brings luck. Many people may have heard the saying, “Find a penny, pick it up, and all day long you’ll have luck.” Have you ever wondered why finding a penny is considered lucky? In civilizations, metals like copper were believed to be gifts from the gods, offering protection against evil. A simpler explanation would be that stumbling upon money on the ground, even if it’s a penny, is seen as a positive omen.

Cutting nails in India, Turkey, and South Korea

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India, Turkey, and South Korea have various superstitions regarding personal care and treatments. One is that of cutting your nails at night. Unlike superstitions that have mythical origins, this one has a practical basis. In the past, before electricity became widespread in India, people avoided using objects at night for safety reasons. Even though electricity is now widely available, Indians still adhere to this logic throughout the country. 

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