Countries are fascinating, right? Every single one has developed their own broad range of cultural markers, customs, and superstitions. Some of them logical, and some of them bizarre to those of us looking in. From black cats and broken glass to acorns of eternal life and magic numbers. If you can do it, there's probably already a superstition warning you not to.
Here are more of the strange superstitions governing minds and controlling actions from across the globe:
1) Lucky 8 – China
The Chinese have major issues with numbers. Especially if they sound similar to negative or feared words such as death. But some numbers are loved. The number eight is considered a jackpot number because it sounds like the word for fortune and when turned on its side represents the infinity symbol. Major life events are organised to purposely fall on days containing 8s, the more the better. The Bejing Summer Olympics were specifically scheduled to begin at 8pm on 8/8/2008.
2) Kissing the Blarney Stone - Ireland
Want to be a better writer, speaker, poet? Go kiss the Blarney Stone and all your problems will be solved. For over 200 years, people have traveled to the Stone of Eloquence in Blarney to climb the steps and kiss the Stone. All in the name of bettering one's self, I assume.
3) Broken dishes for your luck – Denmark
Forget toasting and kissing at New Years! The Danes have other ideas about how to ensure a good fortune in the New Year. Instead of kisses and champagne, they apparently save up all their broken dishes over the course of the year to throw at the houses of friends and family on New Year's Eve. Supposedly, the bigger the pile, the more good fortune heading the way of the recipient. Is anyone else worried about the windows?
4) Scissors nightmares – Egypt
Egypt is the land of indecision and this superstition confirms it! When you think of scissors, what do you think? Cutting things, right? Well, in the Egyptians seem to believe that it's bad luck to open and close scissors without cutting something in the process but they also believe that scissors can cure nightmares if placed under the sufferer's pillow. What if you're a violent sleeper in a lucid dream? Don't answer that!
5) News Years Grapes – Spain
Another New Year's Eve tradition to keep you busy on your travel. If you're in Spain for New Year's, I hope you like grapes. And this isn't solely a Spanish thing. The Spanish, Portuguese and Italians eat stuff 12 grapes in their mouths when the clock strikes midnight. If you can pull that off, you'll have good luck for the rest of the year... It does make sense that the countries producing the world's best wine would celebrate their grapes mind.
6) Lettuce makes you infertile – UK
This one was so bizarre, I had to include it. At one point in British history, it was believed that lettuce was detrimental to child-bearing. Salad supposedly made men infertile. Pretty sure that one died off before the 19th Century ended. I hope.
7) Death foretold – Haiti
It's a bad luck to be a mother in Haiti whether you do something wrong yourself or not. Supposedly, if you walk with only one shoe on, sweep the floor at night, move around on your knees, or eat the tops of watermelons and/or grapefruits... yeah, you'll have killed your mother. Careless of you.
8) Don’t whistle – Lithuania
In Lithuania, whistling indoors is supposedly forbidden - whether that's by law or not remains to be seen. Can you guess why? No? Well, they believe that whistling inside will summon small devils who will terrorize you and never leave. Safe to say, I'd love to know where this one came from.
9) Singing to the devil at dinner – Netherlands
It's a devil fest. Don't sing at the dinner table whatever you do. The Dutch believe that if you sing at the dinner table, you're actually singing to the devil for your supper.
10) Deadly Fans – South Korea
The South Koreans are so convinced that running a fan in a closed room while you sleep will result in death that many electric fans sold in Korea come with auto-shutoff timers. It's either that or they sleep with the windows open.
11) Flower issues – Russia
Count those flowers carefully, boys. You don't want to offend anyone! The Russians believe that when you gift someone a bouquet of flowers, there should be an odd number of stems. Why? Because even numbers are reserved for honoring the dead. And if you give a girl yellow flowers, well you're asking for trouble really. Yellow flowers symbolize friendship to some people and infidelity to others. Either way, you've just doomed your chances.
12) Cracks – USA
Maybe it's the fact that I've been absorbed in American TV since a very young age but fear of cracks in the sidewalk I recognize. But to us Brits, it was a game. Do American's actually believe that it'll break their mother's back? Or is it more widely thought to bring bad luck?
13) Walking backwards teaches the Devil your path – Portugal
In Portugal, the crab is the symbol of evil and is associated with the devil. Crabs also walk "backwards" (more sidewards), so the Portuguese believe that walking backwards is bad luck and it will teach the Devil your path.
14) Watery toasts – Germany
The Germans give the Brazilians a run for their money on superstitions. Don't link arms and drink, don't toast without looking directly into each others eyes (no one wants 7 years bad sex!), and don't toast with water. Unless you literally want to wish death on everyone you're drinking with, of course.
15) Congestione – Italy
Another one that's not actually specific to one location. The Portuguese and the Italians (there may be more!) will swear blind that if you eat something and get in the water within 3-4 hours. you will die. They'll swear they know people who have and some even refuse to shower through fear that their body won't have enough blood to keep warm and digest food.
How true some of these actually are remains to be seen. Just researching these articles, I found a load of superstitions associated with the UK which I had never heard of and I was a superstitious child! I think I would have known if a hat of hazel sticks and leaves would grant me a wish. So take it all with a pinch of salt.