Uncommon Superstitions From Around The World

by Donia Varghese
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Uncommon Superstitions

People’s perception of lucky and unlucky things differs from country to country (Image courtesy: dailygalaxy.com)

We’re familiar with superstitions associated with black cats and broken mirrors but what about the ones involving chopsticks and the number 39? Superstitions may seem silly, amusing or very bizarre but hey, haven’t we all crossed our fingers at some point hoping to be filled with luck, or knocked on wood to prevent something bad from happening?

Here’s a compilation of little known superstitions from 12 countries around the world. We dropped number 13 off the list for obvious reasons.

Uncommon Superstitions - Fresh Print Magazine

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Brazil:  If you’re going to start your day with a cup of coffee, you might as well try your hand at getting rich. Brazilians believe that putting sugar in the cup before adding coffee can make you prosperous.

Peru:  You may not even like yellow but getting underwear in that colour as a gift on New Year’s Eve is considered lucky in Peru. But they’re only good for one year and after that, you’ll have to wait for someone to buy you a new pair. The tricky part is that they have to be a gift. You can’t purchase them yourself. If you are searching for love, chuck the yellow underwear and wear a red one instead.

Uncommon Superstitions - Fresh Print Magazine

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India: To ward off the evil eye, seven green chillies and a lemon are strung together and hung inside cars, behind motorcycles and dangled along the doors of houses and business establishments. They are replaced every week or sometimes even daily. You have to be careful not to step on the discarded lemons because doing so is said to free the bad spirits trapped in them.

France: Apparently, the way you place your bread on the table determines your luck in France. If a loaf of bread is put upside down on a table, then you and the guests who eat it are doomed. Make sure you put them the right way if you want to escape the hunger curse. Bonne Chance!

Argentina: Since Argentina’s former president Carlos Menem is believed to have brought about the country’s financial crisis of 2001, saying his last name is considered unlucky. In fact, the politician is seen as a living curse by many Argentinians. If someone mentions his surname by mistake, women touch their left breast and men their left testicle to protect themselves from ill luck.

Uncommon Superstitions - Fresh Print Magazine

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Czech Republic: Who doesn’t like some money during the festive season? Czech families hide fish scales underneath Christmas dinner plates or under the tablecloth to welcome wealth and riches. Also, carrying a single fish scale in your wallet for a whole year will make you rich besides leaving you with a stinky purse.

Afghanistan: For some odd reason, the number 39 is connected to prostitution in Afghanistan. Those who have the misfortune of having phone numbers, license plates or house numbers that end with the ‘shameful’ number 39 are made fun of and rejected by society. To avoid awkwardness, people who are 39 often say they’re ‘one less than 40’ when asked about their age.

Japan: If you’re in Japan, never pass food to other guests using your chopsticks. This action is something that’s only done at funeral ceremonies where cremated bones of the dead are passed from chopstick to chopstick before ending up in the urn. It is also bad luck to stab your food using chopsticks because they are meant to help you eat and by poking your food, you’ll make everyone around you think you’re using a ‘weapon.’

Uncommon Superstitions

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Nigeria: We’ve all heard of superstitions connected with the moon and how full moon nights can sometimes make people a little crazy. However in Nigeria, lunacy is the least of all worries. It’s looking straight at the moon that people are concerned about. Nigerians believe that someone up there is pounding pepper and if your gaze lingers a little too long, there’s a good chance he will pour it in your eyes.

 Turkey: Some Turks stick to the belief that chewing gum at night is similar to eating the flesh of a dead person. So even if it’s a roll of minty gum, don’t eat it until the morning.

Thailand: If you see a cute baby in Thailand, never stop to tell the parents how cute their bundle of joy looks. Instead, lie and tell them that the child is the ugliest you’ve ever seen. Don’t worry, it’s absolutely normal to say something like that there. According to old beliefs, if you say something nice about babies, evil spirits will overhear it and steal them. Many children are given nicknames like Moo (pig), or Ouan (fat) for this very reason.

Spain: On New Year’s Eve, people in Spain wait until midnight, ready with 12 grapes to eat. Each time the clock chimes, a grape has to be eaten. Everyone must finish their grapes by the time the clock strikes for the twelfth time. It is quite difficult to finish the grapes within that time but if you do, then you will be blessed with 12 months of good luck.

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