Every country has their own set of superstitions, some have logical beginnings and some seem to have appeared out of nowhere. All of them, undoubtedly, govern the actions of otherwise logical people. We've all avoided a black cat, ladders and cracks in the sidewalk. We've all probably blamed Friday 13th for a particularly bad day or a broken mirror for a rash of bad luck. They're silly but they make up an important part of our cultures and determine how we treat others.
Here are some of the strange ones from across the globe:
1) 45 Degree Witch defences – USA
Image Source: Windowepotusa
Yes, witch windows, otherwise known as Vermont windows, exist. Apparently, it was a common understanding in certain areas of North America that witches could not fly at an angle. Puritans clearly didn't have the imaginations we have today because I don't think Winnie (Hocus Pocus) would have any trouble with a 45-degree angle!
2) Deathly Four – Asia
Image Source: Today I Found Out
In some Asian countries (China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam), the number 4 is so unlucky that it's removed from use entirely whenever possible. You won't find a fourth floor or any floor with the number 4 in its makeup. You won't find phone numbers beginning with 4. This is because, in China, the luckiness or unluckiness of a number is decided by the similarities in sound between the number and other words. The number 4 sounds like the word for death in Chinese. It's equivalent to Western superstitions surrounding the number 13.
3) Cannibalistic Gum – Turkey/Hungary
So you've got a habit of chewing gum after dinner? Yeah, I wouldn't do that in Turkey. It's considered bad luck to chew gum at night. Superstition in the area dictates that if you chew gum at night, you're actually chewing human flesh. Some sources claim it's bad luck to chew gum during a special occasion, at midnight and just at night. Whichever it is, I'm pretty sure that image will be staying with me.
4) Magpies – UK
Source Image: RSPB
Us Brits sure do love our birds. And our superstitions. I mean we created entire nursery rhymes about them. One in particular still has a significant impact on people: Magpies. You've heard it,
'One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret,
Never to be told,
Eight for a wish,
Nine for a kiss,
Ten for a bird,
You must not miss.
It's been through a couple of variations but the sentiment is always the same, magpies will rule your fate. Unless, of course, you salute the lone magpie. Although, I'm sure we should take issue with 'Three for a funeral' in the original being replaced with 'Three for a girl."
5) Fire Spiders – Qatar
In Qatar, it's believed that spiders can actually extinguish house fires. Even though people in Qatar apparently teach their children that superstitious beliefs are forbidden, people still avoid killing spiders.
6) Bad Love Manhole – Sweden
A long-suffering superstition with no rhyme nor reason in the UK involved avoiding double drains, bad luck and walking over triples, good luck. The Swedes have their own version and it has everything to do with the type of water flowing beneath the drain. Freshwater manholes are marked with a K, which means fresh water and love in Swedish, and sewage drains are marked with an A, for sewage and broken love. You can see why locals plan their routes to avoid the sewage lines, can't you?
7) Tuesday 13th – Spain
Forget everything you thought you knew. Friday 13th is not the only day to be wary off! The Spanish believe Tuesday 13th is bad luck. No one actually knows where the superstition for either day comes from but it's possible that the Spanish belief stems from Mars' influence over the day. Historical events only reinforce it - Constantinople fell to the Fourth Crusade and the Ottomans fell on a Tuesday.
8) Avoid the buckets – Russia
Russia seems to be ripe with superstitions, ranging from a broken life if you tear bread with your hands to chicken predictions of a death in the family. This one could stem from the fact that Tsar Alexander II was assassinated by a man with an empty bucket but who knows! Either way, the Russians consider it bad luck to carry, or even see someone carrying, an empty bucket. It's a bad omen and no one wants that hanging over their heads.
9) No-Yo in Damascus– Syria
Citizens in the Damascus area were so nervous about keeping their city well watered that some pretty strange beliefs developed. One of those beliefs dictates that yo-yos will bring about drought. So they banned the use of yo-yos across the whole of Syria. How's that for superstition?
10) Topsy-Turvey Bread – France
Before researching this article, I didn't actually believe that the French were supersitious. Deluded, wasn't I? No, it seems that the French feel so strongly about their bread that you'd best not hand them a loaf upside down. Or place it on a surface upside down for that matter. It's believed that that thoughtless action will bring both the giver and the reecipient hunger and bad luck.