13 Superstitions from Around the World

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According my calendar of offbeat holidays, the 13th of September is Defy Superstition Day. I’d never heard of this holiday before and I’m not sure who founded it, but it’s supposed to be a day “to break those superstitious beliefs that you have been living with most, or all, of your life.”

Not sure how to celebrate? In honor of Defy Superstition Day, here are 13 superstitions from around the world:

1. Sleeping in a closed room with a fan on will kill you: This is a fairly common superstition in South Korea, dating back to the ’20s and ’30s. Death is believed to occur from hypothermia or asphyxiation.

2. If you chew gum after dark, it turns into dead flesh. This one hails from Turkey. 

3. If you have to re-enter a friend’s home to pick up something you forgot, you must look in the mirror before you leave again.  This one is from Russia. Forgetting things is bad luck; looking in the mirror helps reduce the bad luck.

4.  Whistling in the house is bad luck. Also from Russia.

5.  It’s bad luck to leave a house through a different door than you came in from. Country of Origin: Romania

6. Walking with only one shoe on could cause a death in the family.  This variation of “step on a crack, break your mother’s back” is from Romania.

7. Placing a loaf of bread upside-down on the table will cause everyone at the table to go hungry. This is from France, where it was once customary for shopkeepers to leave a loaf of bread upside-down for the town executioner.

8. Seeing a calico cat foretells your accidental demise. We’ve all heard of black cats bringing bad luck, but this belief about calicos comes  from Normandy, France.

9. The number four is unlucky in Chinese culture. The pronunciation for “four” is similar to that of the word “death,” so the number four is considered to be a very bad omen, to the point that Chinese people often go out of their way to avoid it. Some buildings are built without a fourth floor, license plates often omit the number, and many Chinese people simply will not accept a phone number with the number four in it.

10. Cutting your fingernails on a Saturday will bring bad luck, according to some in India.

11. Cutting your fingernails at night is bad luck, according to the Japanese. Cut them tonight for maximum defiance!

12. Leaving your purse on the floor is bad luck/will make you go broke. This one is apparently common to several different cultures. I’ve found it listed as Polish, Spanish and Chinese.

13.  We all know spilling salt is supposed to be bad luck, but in Italy, it’s also considered bad luck to spill olive oil! 

Can you think of any unusual local superstitions? Share them in the comments!