Superstitions are beliefs believed to have some supernatural powers or connections that bring about good luck or bad luck, which, of course, is denied by modern science.
It is some elusive notion of the Past, from which most of these superstitions came up, and probably, they made somewhat more sense at that time.
Superstitious beliefs differ from one person to another or from one culture to another.
Traditions and religions have a great influence on beliefs and practices, which in turn may have given rise to superstitions.
Like, traditions and rituals, superstitions too, have been passed down from one generation to another for centuries.
Superstitions have gained importance because they are passed down from one generation to another.
Hence, each country has its own superstitions!
Let’s find out the main superstitious beliefs from across the world.
You must have noticed the –“Lemon and Green Chillies Hangings” at the main gate or door of a house or a shop.
You can also see the lemon and chillies tied on vehicles like trucks and buses.
The ‘Nimbu(lemon) Mirchi(chillies)’ superstitious ritual, is done, to avoid evil vibes and spirits.
Lemon and chilli, both have insecticidal properties which help keep insects away. It was a way to protect the house/ shop from insects, hence was strictly placed at the entrance.
Common superstitious beliefs in India are:
A cat, which is black in colour, is crossing your path is considered to be a sign of bad luck.
A crow cawing means that guests are arriving.
Drinking milk after eating fish leads to skin problems.
Seeing a mongoose represents being very lucky.
Itchy palms indicate that money is coming your way.
2. USA – Unites States of America
In olden times, “Salt” used to be such a very expensive commodity. So, “Spilling Salt” was similar to losing money, hence “bad luck”.
In Leonardo da Vinci’s painting “The Last Supper”, Judas Iscariot has spilt salt with his elbow.
As Judas betrayed Jesus Christ in the Bible, people began to think that “spilling salt is evil and associated it with deceits and betrayal”.
According to superstitious beliefs-
“Throwing A Pinch of Salt Over Your Left Shoulder”, is a superstition that is believed to reverse the “Bad Luck”.
Some Christian believe that the evil spirits hang around behind the left shoulder, waiting to take advantage of you.
Throwing salt over the left shoulder makes the devil blind. So he is now unable to weaken you and make you do acts of bad behaviour.
The devil sees it as an invitation to step in and do evil if it sees “spilling of salt”. Throwing salt over the left shoulder into the evil’s face, blinds him and makes him helpless.
Canada is a vast territory, covered with green fields and rivers.
Hence, meat and fish are a part of everyday food in Canada.
The most consumed fish is salmon. Depending on which part of the country you are in, fish can be eaten smoked, fresh or baked.
Canadian traditional stories advise that –
Expectant mothers, who ignore the fish cravings and don’t eat fish, will end up having a baby with a fish-head.
And that, Fish must be eaten from the head downward.
Fish is a good source of iron, zinc and proteins. These are the main nutrients required for the baby’s growth and development.
Fish also contains omega-3 fatty acids and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which helps stimulate a baby’s brain development.
Fish is easily available in Canada and is a protein-rich food. This superstition must be made up, just so that the pregnant ladies eat fish, which is essential for the mother’s and the baby’s health.
The Bunyip is a creature from Australian mythology. Bunyip lives in billabongs, creeks, swamps, riverbeds and waterholes.
Bunyip means ‘devil’ or ‘spirit’ or a “monster”.
The Bunyip is believed to have tusks, horns and tails which makes it look “scary”.
The Bunyip has been known to have spiteful and mystical powers, which feeds on unwelcomed visitors.
Many Native Australians are very superstitious people. Their connection with the land, makes them believe that certain animal spirits, like the Bunyip, can harm people.
One more belief is that killing a willy-wagtail bird makes the bird’s spirit angry, which in turn, creates storms of viciousness that can kill people.
All these beliefs lead to one thing –
Not to harm or kill animals.
In Ireland, giving or passing a sharp object, like a knife or scissors to a friend/ family member, as per superstition, “breaks the relationship”.
Luckily, there is a way to get over this bad luck!
By accepting a coin in exchange for the sharp tool, the bad luck gets cancelled.
Another very old tradition/ superstition followed in Ireland is for the “single women during new year’s eve”.
Single women put “mistletoe leaves” under their pillows. This will help them find love in the upcoming year.
It is also believed that following this practice will help them see their future partners in their dreams.
6. UAE – United Arab Emirates
Are you feeling sick all of a sudden?
Is your new car just been scratched?
Did you lose your job?
All these are thought or believed to be the result of the “evil eye” in the Arab world!
The “evil eye” is a “supernatural curse” that origins from “fear” and passed on from ancient times.
It is believed that the power of the evil eye can knock down anything, from ancient antiques to strip one of his health.
Any form of bad luck can be caused by just inflicting a look upon an object or person to harm and hurt.
The most common form that is believed to ward off negativity and evil intentions is the amulet – a good luck charm.
Another very common “defence mechanism” against any form of intentional or unintentional harm is the universal sign of “Khamsa”.
Spreading the right hand in front of the “eye evil/suspect” is believed to help get rid of the evil wards.
When it comes to superstitions, Arabs take it pretty seriously. The Arabs sacrifice an animal to the Gods to get “blessings and protection” for their new cars or houses.
They even print an image of the “khamsa” sign with their own bare bloody hands all over their new belongings and properties.
Khamsa is commonly used for jewellery and wall hangings.
The open right hand is known as a sign of protection. The khamsa holds respect as a “carrier of good fortune”
The new homeowners in Singapore, “roll a pineapple” into their new home.
This belief or superstition is practised regularly as it is said to bring good luck into the new house.
The new homeowner does a “cleansing ritual” when he/she steps into the new home.
The “cleansing ritual” is –
“knocking on the door thrice”
“rolling a pineapple”
while shouting “Huat ah!” (meaning – good fortune).
The couples or the new homeowners note where the pineapple stops, as this resembles the “fortune spot”.
You might not give much consideration to manhole covers. But, in Sweden, some people believe that the signs on the manholes can bring either good luck or bad luck.
Stepping on a manhole cover marked with a “K” is believed to bring good luck. “K” signifies the Swedish word for “love”.
Stepping on a manhole cover marked with an “A” is believed to bring bad luck. “A” represents the Swedish word for “heartbreak”.
Manhole “K” – kallvatten, means “clean water” and
Manhole “A” – avloppsvatten, means sewage.
But if you are superstitious – Be careful what you step on!
In Ecuador, if you “burn photographs taken during the year” and “fill scarecrows with paper, at the stroke of midnight” is believed to bring in good luck the next year.
This represents the “cleansing of the bad” from the whole year before the new year starts.
Some people even jump over the flames 12 times, as a sign to cleanse the bad luck, and welcoming the new year, in the form of good luck.
10. United Kingdom
“The horseshoe” and its magical powers/ superstitions are linked to the legend, St. Dunstan.
In 10th century Britain, there lived a simple man, named Dunstan. He was a blacksmith. One night, the devil came to meet him.
The devil told Dunstan to put a horseshoe on his horse. Dunstan didn’t listen to the devil, instead, he nailed the horseshoe to the devil. The devil was in immense pain and begged Dunstan to remove the horseshoe.
Dunstan agreed. But, put forth one condition. The condition was that the devil had to stay away from all the houses with a horseshoe above their entrances. This made Dunstan famous. He was worshipped and elevated to the position of sainthood.
So, it is believed that putting up a horseshoe over the door brings good luck.
But the horseshoe needs to be hung in the right way. The luck runs out of the horseshoe if it is hung upside down.
Horseshoe has become a sign of good luck and hence also features on many good luck cards.
There are many more such beliefs or superstitions
followed all around the world.
Do you believe in superstitions?