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Black Cats, Ladders, and Salt
To many, superstitions seem to be a silly concept, just something to frivolously brush off as a childrens story. Though you may feel this way, others have superstitious rituals they preform to ensure their good luck, or to ward off the bad.
You may not consider yourself a superstitious person, but tell me, a how many times have you said “Bless you” after around you sneezed? Despite a common misconception that this is simply good etiquette, blessing someone after they sneeze is actually a superstition. Early Romans believed that a good sneeze could release your soul into the world, and a “Bless you” would cause it to retreat back into your body. In fact, during a plague in 1665, the Pope mandated that everyone be blessed when they sneezed, since they would probably die soon.
There are numerous common superstitions that many people are aware of, such as breaking a mirror, walking under a ladder, opening an umbrella inside, spilling salt, the number thirteen, or even black cats. It is said breaking a mirror or walking under a ladder will give you seven years of bad luck. Since a mirror was thought to be a reflection or the soul, breaking a mirror was harmful to it. To counter the ill effects of the seven years of bad luck, it is said you could take the broken mirror outside and bury it in the moonlight. If you accidentally walk under a ladder and experience bad luck, you could reverse this misfortune by placing your thumb between your index and middle finger.
People who are superstitious believe when the umbrella is opened inside and out of the way of sun's rays it offends the “Sun God.” It may even signify impending death or ill fortune for both the person who opened it and the people who live within the home. Another shared superstition is spilling salt, some fear it will bring bad fortune to you and your loved ones. Salt has always been considered a valuable substance capable of purifying and warding off evil spirits. By tossing spilled salt over your left shoulder, some people believe you are driving away the evil spirits lurking with the intent to cause trouble.
How many of you have heard “Step on a crack, and break your mommy’s back?” Many go to great lengths to dodge small divots and faults in the sidewalk’s surface, for fear they will bring harm to their mothers.
A fear of the number 13 is one of the most common superstitions around, and is so widespread that many apartments and hotels omit the 13th floor and some airlines fly without a 13th row.
13 Superstitions in Different Places.
In Paraguay eating a watermelon and then drinking milk is taboo, as they really expect something terrible to happen to you in the near future.
In Spain, when wine is spilled, it's good luck to wet your fingers in the spilt wine and then apply it to both sides of your neck (just like old ladies perfuming themselves), at the same time saying "alegria, alegria" (joy, joy).
In Korea, it is believed that if you sleep with a fan on while the door is closed, you will die of "fan death" Also, writing someone's name in red ink is a big no-no; it signifies blood and death.
In Germany when someone is sick, they open all of the windows despite the weather. Seems that breathing in their own sick air was far more dangerous than being exposed to freezing weather.
In Hawaii it is bad luck to take any black sand, lava, or coral off of any of the islands or beware the wrath of Pele (The Fire Goddess).
In Taiwan, it is bad luck to point at a cemetery.
In Greece, people tend to carry in their wallet a little bone of a bat, since it's believed to protect from the evil eye of dangerous spirits.
In UK, not one Englishman will open his umbrella near the door or will put his new shoes on the table.
Italians think you're lucky to hear a cat sneezing. If an Italian sees a nun, he will seek to touch a metal, so that the luck doesn't leave him.
In Russia, when a cat, especially a black one, crosses your pass, its bad luck, and I've actually seen people try to shoo them off or run ahead of them.
In Moldova if you accidentally hit with your head your friends head you have to hit it the second time or someone will die in the family.
In China brooms are given special attention. They believe each broom has a spirit inside, that's why you have to use it carefully. Hitting someone with a broom means a curse. Also in China when someone's dying, don’t ever stand at the foot of the body because that’s the path the spirit takes to leave the body -if you're in its way, it might go into you.
Japanese are afraid to be photographed in three. The one from the middle is expected to die.
And finally, in Ireland, an old horseshoe can be nailed above a doorway for good luck - you can often see them on old cottages and farmhouses.
So basically, if you happen to be walking under a ladder while holding an open umbrella, kicking over salt and breaking a mirror on a black cat because you sneezed 13 times, you should throw the salt over your left shoulder on a moonlit night, while burying the broken mirror and holding your thumb between your fingers yelling “Bless you” all the way home.