Russian superstitions

14 January, 2016

I want to dedicate this article to Russian superstitions and traditions extremely common and practiced until today by the majority of the population. Most of them are rooted in the paganism, practiced by the Slavs before Christianity. About two weeks ago, we studied for a week its traditions, taking us to see how superstitious the people can be.

I was surprised when our teacher said that before leaving for a long journey, travelers and all those who are seeing them off, must sit for a moment in silence before leaving the house; also when they have forgotten something and they come back to pick it up and look in the mirror before leaving the house again.

Knocking on wood is practiced in Russia as in other countries. However Russians tend to add a symbolic three spits over one’s left shoulder and will often knock three times as well, this is because they believe the devil is always on the left.

Breaking a mirror is considered bad luck in Russia and everywhere else in the world, but it is thought that looking at one’s reflection in a broken mirror can bring 7 years of bad luck (as in American culture).

Before one takes an exam, someone else would say, “ни пуха ни пера!” which roughly translates to “neither fur, nor feather!” which means good luck. To this, the one taking the exam would reply, “К чёрту!” which means, “Go to the Devil!” or “To the Devil!” which is a way of securing good luck and not wearing anything new, or cut your fingernails.

Birthday parties should be celebrated on or after one’s birthday, not before. So when one’s birthday falls during the week, it’s best to celebrate the following weekend. And never give someone birthday wishes before their birthday.

Talking about future success, especially boasting about it, is considered bad luck. It is considered better to be silent until the success has been achieved or to even sound pessimistic. I’m not Russian but I firmly believe in this.

Many Russians consider giving gifts of sharp objects, like knives or scissors, to be taboo. This taboo may be avoided by the donor taking a symbolic payment, for example one Russian ruble, in exchange as if it is a trade, not a gift.

Things bought for a newborn baby (such as clothes, toys, furniture) should be purchased after the baby is born. A stranger should not look at a newborn baby before it is a certain age; If one looks at the baby it is considered bad luck to compliment it.

Unmarried people should not sit at the corner of the table otherwise they will not marry. This mostly applies to girls, and often only young girls.

It is considered bad luck to put an empty bottle back on the table when it’s finished.

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