9 Russian Superstitions You Should Know About
20 April, 2015
9 Russian Superstitions You Should Know About
When you are in a foreign country and you meet a different culture you can easily get into misunderstandings. As you have probably already experienced for yourself, knowing the language of a country is not the same as knowing the culture and customs of the people who live in it. Russians has so many different traditions and superstitions that aren’t well-known to foreigners and sometimes to locals too, but they are still part of Russian everyday life. To know and understand Russian superstitions and learn how to react to them is not just interesting but it’s also really useful in order to avoid misunderstanding and giving accidentally offence.
1. First of all, as in every country, in Russia there are numbers and things related to fortune and bad luck. As “7” is the lucky number , “13” is the unlucky one. When you give flowers as present, you shouldn’t give a even number of flowers, but a odd one like 3, 5, 7, because even numbers of flowers are traditionally used in funerals.
2. Most of Russian superstitions are difficult to explain because they date back to the pre-Christian era. For instance, an unmarried girls has never to sit at the corner of a table because she will not marry for seven years. This superstition comes from the fact that in ancient Rus old maids and poor relatives sat at the corner, which was the humblest places at the table.
Some of their superstitions are really similar to the Western ones, as the believes that somebody who whistles in a house or a black cat that crosses your street, bring troubles or bad luck.
3. Подкова (podkova, horseshoe) is a symbol of good luck, while зеркало (zerkalo) is mostly related to bad events. To break a mirror is a bad sign because it means that somebody among the people who are close to you will die. Then if you look at the broken mirror it’s even worse because that means that you are going to die soon or have a serious disease.
4. Not always breaking objects is a bad sign; for example if you break a mug or other dishes, that will bring you good luck. Sharp objects are also not connected with good events. So you should not give scissors as present to somebody because you may have a argue with this person in the future. Giving knives as gift likely turns friends into enemies, so the person who receive it often gives a small coin in return as if he is buying it from you.
5. Russian have a special concern for the devil, especially they are afraid of the evil eye that brings you bad luck or troubles. So, when you say something nice or favourable to somebody, about a good event or an imminent success you’ll notice that Russians will do something particularly strange: they’ll spit three times towards their left shoulder (where it’s supposed the devil sits, to spit in his eyes) and they’ll knock on wood for three times. If they have no wood in handy they’ll tap on their own head, that it’s believed to have the same effect.
6. If you have left house and you realise that you forgot something you shouldn’t come back to take it because in this way you’ll chance the day that God has prepared for you. In case you really need to go back, as soon as you enter you must look at yourself in the mirror as a trick to deceive an evil sign. In addition, the threshold of a house is believed to be a place of evil so you must not stand on it and at the same time you shouldn’t talk or hand anything across it.
7. It’s a bad sign if you see somebody carrying an empty bucket. So if you meet a woman carrying an empty bucket or a street cleaner with an empty cart you are likely to have a bad day. Money are believed to transmit the energy from its owner, especially negative energy. So if you try to hand your money to a shop assistant, a taxi driver or your landlady, as in my case, they will wait for you to place them on a surface, because in this way the link with their past energy will be broken and they can pick them up without fear.
8. To put empty bottle, keys, or change on the table are all bad signs connected with financial loss and tears. In particular it’s important to take away from the table an empty bottle, that will be immediately trash or put under the table.
9. Not all superstitions are connected with bad luck or the devil. When a guest or family’s member is getting ready for a long journey, before leaving everyone in the house has to sit down for a minute. This tradition, that actually helps people to calm down and remember if they have forgotten to pack anything, it’s a way to ask for a safe journey.
Many Russians don’t believe in these superstitions nowadays. Above all, among young people they are just like a cultural heritage, but there are still people who will look at you in a suspicious way or with a “evil eyes” if you act in the wrong way in these situations.
This post was brought to you by Jessica, currently studying Russian at Liden and Denz