Superstitions

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Most people are at least a little superstitious. There are several grooming-related superstitions in India, including the belief that it is bad luck to trim one's nails at night. Placing empty bottles on the ground is considered a good luck practice in Russia. The superstition comes from a legend involving Russian soldiers in the 19th century.

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According to the Moscow Times, while the soldiers were in Paris, they were able to save money on alcohol by hiding their empty bottles on the ground rather than leaving them on the table, as they were being charged by the empty bottles they left behind. People in the US often use the phrase "knock on wood" to ward off bad luck, although this superstition is said to have originated in Europe. During the Medieval period, many churches claimed to have pieces of Jesus' cross.

According to Turkish legend, when a person chews gum at night, it turns into the flesh of the dead. This good luck practice has been around for over 2, years, according to NPR, although it has only been recorded since the 19th century with roots tracing back to the UK. According to legend, if the first thing you say on the first day of the month is "rabbit rabbit," you'll have good luck for the rest of it.

Alternatively, if you forget to speak the magic words in the morning, you can say "tibbar tibbar" rabbit backwards right before you go to bed that night. Similarly, people in China commonly use the phrase that translates to " a purse on the floor is money out the door ," to warn against not valuing wealth. Spilling water may seem like it would be a sign of bad luck, although the opposite is actually true in Serbia.


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It is a common Serbian superstition to believe that spilling water behind someone will bring them good luck. It is considered very unlucky to walk backwards in Portugal because doing so allegedly lets the devil know where you are and where you're going. In Japan, people are often advised to tuck their thumbs into their fists when walking through cemeteries.

The reasoning is simple; In Japanese, the word for "thumb" directly translates to "parent finger. According to Greek mythology, spirits of the dead would often drink from the river Lethe, which is named for the goddess of forgetfulness. After drinking from the river, the spirits would forget about their lives on Earth before entering the underworld. Hanging a horseshoe outside one's home dates to the plague years in Europe, when it was believed to ward off illness.

55 of the Strangest Superstitions From Around the World

The practice stuck and "golden" horseshoes appear on homes and businesses around the world. Today, the African-American expression "jumping the broom" means getting married - but it comes from an old custom that the newlyweds literally jump over a broom to prove that one of them is not an evil double.

In folklore found in both the European Middle Ages and traditional African cultures, vampires and wicked spirits were considered to possess obsessive-compulsive traits. Hence, a malevolent spirit would have to stop to count all the broom's bristles, exposing a sinister entity that attempted to disguise itself as the bride or groom. Even after the wedding, couples must be careful. In the West, the new husband carries his wife over the threshold, which the Romans believed was crawling with evil spirits, which his act of chivalry helps her avoid.

And what about that bridesmaid's dress you just spent a bundle on? It too goes back to Roman days, where bridesmaids were supposed to distract evil spirits from the wife-to-be. The "lucky" rabbit's foot is a must-have for every superstitious gambler or risk taker.

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Ancient people from the Aztecs to the Chinese ascribed magical properties to the rabbit, seeing it as a symbol of cunning and survival. German and Scottish folklore placed special emphasis on the rabbit's relative, the hare, which was considered capable of placing an "evil eye" on people probably because it is one of the few animals born with its eyes open.

The antidote? Obtaining the animal's hind foot. Carrying a rabbit's foot got popularized in the 19th century through the African-American magical tradition called hoodoo. Many actors, a famously superstitious lot, kept a rabbit's foot in their make up box. Rabbit's feet were once used to apply makeup - but lingered as a performer's good-luck charm. We've all woken up on the "wrong side of the bed. Traditionally, climbing out of bed on the left side has bad consequences. This stems from the Ancient Egyptian belief that "left side" belongs to the forces of death and destruction.

Some modern hotel and casino designers even arrange guest rooms with the left side of the bed facing the wall, helping you rise on the side of luck. A European custom requires exiting your bed on the same side as you entered it, or else the cosmic circle of sleep will be disturbed, until the following night when the cycle can resume as normal. The loss of a loved one creates sadness and confusion, which are a devil's playground for superstition. Many ancient cultures, from China to Persia, considered death contagious. People who were around the recently dead were supposed to be avoided.

In Rome mourners wore black so others would know to stay away from them. Some believe that you should actually give away your colored clothes while mourning for a quick passage of sorrows. But be sure not to wear your mourning clothes beyond two years - or you risk a new tragedy. Another European custom holds that you should never accept a gift during your loss, or you'll soon find yourself grieving again. And if you wear mourning gloves be sure they are made of cotton - or your whole household could go to the grave. Our love affair with cats began in ancient Egypt.

Egyptians considered cats sacred to the gods - and, on a more practical level, as the perfect solution to keeping rats and mice out of grain supplies.


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  8. Yet our relations to felines took a different turn during the European witch craze. Between the 11th and 14th centuries, Europe's population exploded - with cats no exception: The animals were overrunning the continent and were widely seen as pests.

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    In England, elderly or single women - the prime target of witch trials - were seen as caretakers of cats. So the legend arose that felines are the companions, or "familiars," of witches. What about the black cat? Another English tradition holds that Satan was thrown out of heaven into a blackberry bush , giving us malevolent associations with the color black - and the notion that black cats are an embodiment of the devil, a belief that also surrounds black dogs. Was Apollo 13 cursed by its flight number? Should you avoid the 13th floor of a building?

    Do you need to watch your step on Friday the 13th? Fear of the number 13 is one of humanity's most enduring superstitions. Perhaps the earliest known origin of this superstition comes from ancient India, where it was considered unlucky for 13 people to sit together. In Nordic mythology, the evil Loki is the 13th guest at a banquet of gods - which ends in argument and violence.

    The most famous origin involves Judas Iscariot, the so-called traitor apostle, who was the 13th man at the Last Supper. Jesus was crucified on Good Friday , which got linked to the number 13 for a day of unholy luck. Friday the 13th also marked the mass execution of the medieval Knights Templar. Following tensions with the Vatican, the Christian knights were all but wiped out beginning on Friday, October 13th, So deep is our fear of 13 that even today many hotels are designed without a 13th floor.

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    Knock on Wood. Walking Under a Ladder. Spilling Salt. Opening an Umbrella Indoors. Jumping the Broom. Rabbit's Foot. Wrong Side of the Bed. Wearing Black While Mourning. Black Cats. The Number Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard. Join HuffPost Plus. Real Life. Real News. Real Voices. Let us know what you'd like to see as a HuffPost Member. Canada U.

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