Guide Old Superstitions - Rituals & Beliefs

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While the origin of this practice is unknown, there are several theories. We already saw how he may be associated with unlucky 13, and he just might have had a hand in this superstition as well. Because of his Biblical role, people began associating salt with deceit. And, sticking with the Biblical roots, some say that the devil waits behind your left shoulder. So, when you spill salt, it gives the devil an opportunity to step in.

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What can one do in this situation? Take that salt you spilled and throw it over your shoulder to blind the devil to save yourself! To this day, when a public figure dies, people wait to see who the next two will be. Why three? What is the significance? We are intrigued by groupings of three. One is random.

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Two is coincidence. Three … well, three peaks our interest. We take this grouping, and we try to find meaning in it.

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Is it number mysticism, or is it psychology? Sets of three are appealing and easily delivered. Finding patterns like this give purpose to some. We naturally look for patterns, after all.

While the origin of this superstition is debated, the pattern of three is still a superstition with a strong following to this day. Back in ancient times, many cultures believed metals were gifts from the gods, bringing luck to all that found them. Naturally, metal coins were thought to be especially lucky because they increased your wealth. In a survey conducted by the Crowdsourcing website, Ranker. Knocking on wood appeared as number one. Medieval churches would often possess wood claimed to be from the Cross itself.

By touching the wood, churchgoers would believe that they forged a link to the divine, and that they would receive good luck because of it. One of the possible origins of this superstition can be found in pagan rituals. In pagan religions, trees were worshipped and seen as the homes of certain gods. Worshippers would lay their hands on a tree when asking for favors, or would touch the tree as an act of thanks after having good fortune. It was also done to ask for protection. In Romania's eastern Moldova region, villagers dress in real bearskins and dance up and down the streets to ward off bad luck.

Another theory is that Sephardic Jews—who settled Georgia during the 18 th century—ate black-eyed peas to ring in the New Year, and brought the tradition with them to America. Presumably, this act symbolizes shedding the old for the new, and embracing the promise of a new year.

Sadly, people have been injured from this practice, and the police have gotten involved, so think twice before emulating this one. They then, presumably, take seven to 12 food coma-induced naps. In some Nordic countries, like Finland, people melt tin horseshoes, then pour the resulting liquid into cold water and watch it swirl into a new, solid form. For example, it is ill advised to swim in a lake at night because it is believed that that is when pixies and genies bathe and if you happen to be in the water at the same time, you may get struck in a variable number of ways.

You should also take care to not pour out hot water or spin around a chain outside because you may just strike a pixie or other spirit and harm them unbeknownst to you. Urinating outside could bring upon you the gravest of fates by being struck by some calamity caused by pixies or fairies. You are also not supposed to whistle at night because you may unknowingly be calling on the devil. Gum should also not be chewed at night because there is a belief here in Turkey that when you do, you are actually chewing the flesh of the dead.

Nails should also not be clipped at night because Turks believe it to be a surefire way to shorten your life. In addition, make sure to throw out all nail and hair clippings when you do because otherwise you very well may have a spell put on you.

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You are also not supposed to sweep your house at night, as it may invite poverty into your life, and if someone is hit with a broom, they could very well become paralyzed. Needles or knives are not used on Fridays and you are never supposed to directly hand someone a sharp object such as scissors because that would be considered a move instigating animosity.

If someone gifts you a knife then you are supposed to give them a coin to prevent a fight from erupting between you both in the future. A pomegranate in the home is said to bring good luck, while throwing out bread would certainly bring bad luck.


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Bread is considered sacred and instead of ever wasting it, Turks will either feed it to the birds or place it somewhere high to ensure it never hits the floor. There is also the belief that if there is a storm or snowy weather during a wedding, either the groom or the bride scraped the bottom of a pot of heated milk one too many times. There are also a wide range of superstitions surrounding pregnancies and babies, such as the belief that if a pregnant woman does not eat something she craves, her baby will have a birthmark in its shape.

If a child walks under a ladder, it is said they will never grow up to be tall. The same is considered true if someone jumps over a child.


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Meanwhile, it is also believed that if a boy drinks Turkish coffee, he may never be able to grow a beard. As adults, however, you should always accept an offer to drink Turkish coffee with a friend because it will bring 40 years of friendship.