Doe Deere Blogazine

Tales of the Unicorn Queen

Russian omens and superstitions

Category Editorials

Russian people are quite superstitious. They see omens everywhere – in buckets, thresholds, open umbrellas… Russians themselves find these frightening old wives’ tales a torment and admit that they are the cause of terrible everyday inconvenience. But, the power of superstitions is that they are passed from generation to generation.

My family is not superstitious at all, but I remember growing up with a lot of these curious tales. If you are ever going to live amongst Russians, you should know their meaning and how to react to them!

Clocks/watches, knives, and scarves
Need a present for your Russian friend? Whatever it is, make sure it’s none of the above. Clocks are an omen of parting, scarves an omen of tears, and knives an omen of enemies. A Russian girl would rather buy a designer scarf than get it as a gift from you – if only to save her the tears. If you nonetheless chose to gift someone any of these things, don’t be surprised if they give you a small coin in exchange – to create an illusion of monetary exchange. :)

Carrying an empty bucket
Seeing a woman carrying an empty bucket in the countryside is a bad luck omen. That’s why in an urban setting, cleaning personnel will go out of their way to stuff their empty carts full of rakes and brooms!

Washing floors after guests
Washing the floor immediately after your guests leave is considered bad luck – to the point where the guest in question might meet their death. Needless to say, everyone tries to wash the floors before the guests’ arrival – which makes perfect sense. My question is, when does it become safe to wash the floors? In a week? 3 days? 24 hours?

Spit or knock on wood
Russians are afraid to jinx potentially good happenings, so when announcing them they’ll ‘spit’ thrice over their left shoulder, or knock three times on a piece of wood. If there is no wooden surface available, I’ve been known to knock on my head with a joke that it has the same effect. ;)

Open umbrellas and whistling indoors
Don’t fold your lips but do keep your umbrellas folded when you’re inside a Russian house – doing otherwise is believed to bring poverty or even death into the household! Growing up, I was never allowed to parade around the house with an umbrella and whistling indoors was frowned upon. Kinda silly, now that I think about it – folded umbrella used as a weapon is a lot more likely to cause someone to die than an open one. ;)

Putting money in someone else’s hands
Oh, Russians and their money omens! They believe that money has the power to transfer energy (including negative energy) so they’ll often ask that instead of handing them the money, you put them on the table or in a special money tray if you’re in a taxi. Once the person had left, the energy connection is broken and it’s safe to pick up the money. :)

Taking out the trash at night
You you live with a bunch of superstitious Russians, you will be advised against taking out the garbage at night – as it might bring ruin upon the household. If garbage stinks, tie it up in a bag and take it out the next morning.

Unmarried girls and corner seats
In ancient Rus, it was the old maids and dependents that took the humblest of seats at the table – the corner. And so a superstition came about that sitting at a corner for an unmarried woman means she won’t get married for 7 years! Needless to say, this is avoided at all costs. In modern Russia, most women laugh at this and take the seat anyway. :)

The threshold theory
You will never look at thresholds the same way again: Russians believe that a threshold of a house is where demons dwell. Extra precautions must be taken when approaching it: you must not stand on the threshold, talk across the threshold, or hand anything over the threshold. If you must sign for a delivery, cross the threshold or at least put one foot across it – to keep those evil spirits down!

Good omens
Of course,there are some good omens as well. For example, a spider or a “message from a pigeon” on your clothes is a sign of good luck, just like stepping in dog poop is an omen of great financial fortune coming your way! Heading to an exam, place a 5 ruble coin in the heels of your shoes for good luck (5 is the equivalent of an “A” in Russia).

Deerlings, are there any superstitions in your culture?

108 Responses to
“Russian omens and superstitions”

  • Hy dear!!! Here in Brazil the people are a little bit superstitious. I’m not, I don’t like puting power in things that don’t have that. ^^
    Kisses XD
    I love your blog XD

  • Heathre says:

    Stepping on cracks in the side walk, walking under an open ladder are the two that come to mind. I believe that superstitions only come true when you give them power by believing in them. I don’t think that here, for example, bad things are more likely to happen on Friday the 13th. I’m not sure if this is considered a superstition, but the saying, “see a penny pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck.”

    Ash Reply:

    I’ve heard that if the penny’s “head” side is facing up, it’s good luck; if it’s the ‘tails’ side is facing up, then it’s bad luck and you don’t want to pick it up… Haha.

  • Cate says:

    Such an interesting read, thanks for sharing xoxo

  • kaiya says:

    wow that was really interesting, thanks! :~D
    i dont really have any superstitions in ‘my culture’ apart from the same old ‘dont step on the cracks/walk under ladders/let a black cat cross your path/smash a mirror’ but the latter is also from gothic er… ‘culture’ where somewhere it is believed that your reflection in the mirror is a demon and if you smash it the demon will escape (hence {i think} why vampires have no reflection, the demon is inside the vampire’s body)

  • tokidoki says:

    I am not superstitious at all but popular superstitions in American culture are:

    - 7 years bad luck if you break a mirror
    - Stepping on cracks on sidewalk breaks your mother’s back
    - black cats and walking under a ladder are bad luck

    More interesting is Korean superstitions. I found out about these when I lived in South Korea for a year.

    - NEVER write a person’s name in red. It means you wish death upon them. I had to remember this when I was grading tests since I was teaching English to South Korean children.
    - #4 means death so you never see floor 4 (like 13 in USA) in buildings. It’s an F instead of 4 in elevators.

    - Body piercings are bad. Piercing makes a hole in your body which is a form of defiling, therefore you are destroying the gift that your parents gave you so it is a disrespectfull act. When I was living in South Korea in the late 90s hardly anyone had their ears pierced. I felt a bit out of place since I have several piercings and tattoos.

    Another weird tidbit is when a baby is born they are already 1 in South Korea. Age starts when they are conceived. So if a Korean tells you they are 21, they are really 20 by our standards.

    Natasha Reply:

    I find the piercing one interesting, because in the cultures revolving around bellydance, one would pierce themselves, often their nose, to confuse evil spirits that would try to enter through the belly button.

    Ash Reply:

    Wouldn’t the baby be nine months old when born?

    tokidoki Reply:

    Technically it would be 9 months but they just say when a child is born they are age 1.

    The piercing one is weird. Another weird one is if you are a Jew and get a tattoo you can’t be buried in a Jewish cemetery.

    Chelsea Reply:

    I’m korean but I grew up in America and its funny, because we were just discussing this stuff with my friends! We don’t keep ANY red pens in the house!
    And my family haates my tattoos and piercings so I keep them hidden most of the time.

    Not entirely superstition but maybe more of a ceremonial thing I guess – when we have holiday meals as a large family, they do a ceremony and leave the fruit on the top of the pile unpeeled so the ancestors can eat first

  • I am a massive Russofile, and so this is absolutely fascinating to me!

    The only thing like this that I know of is something taught to me by the group of Brownies (Junior Girl Scouts) that I help. Apparently, if you say “thank you” after someone says “bless you” when you sneeze, you kill a fairy. But you can clap four times to save its life!


    Natasha Reply:

    I knew about half of those, but a few had twists I didn’t know. There are more Russian superstitions than that, and some of them I’ve learned differently. Oh and as for spitting 3 times over the shoulder, you can just make a spitting noise like ‘tfu tfu tfu’.
    -Whistling indoors is thought to give comfort to the Devil, bring misfortune, and the whistler won’t make any money.
    -Broken mirror indicates the death of a loved one, but tossing the mirror immediately will ensure nothing will happen.
    -Burning cheeks= praising , burning ears= swearing about you.
    -”Bad luck to meet a woman with empty buckets” could go along with your countryside bucket omen, but meeting a man or a woman with full buckets is good. Also concerning the floor-cleaning, I learned it as you don’t clean or sweep the floor immediately because if you do, you can sweep out the good luck with the dirt or harm the person who left!
    -Money found on the ground heads up= good luck, heads down= bad.
    -Spilled salt = fight.
    -Putting ones clothes on inside out means they will be beaten (by bullies, for looking so silly, I’m sure!)
    -Bad luck to leave and return before a trip is finished.
    -Bad luck to shake hands over a threshold.
    -Good luck to trip on your left foot.
    -A dropped knife= a man will arrive, a dropped fork= a woman.
    -On exam, day don’t wear anything new, make your bed or cut your nails. No idea why.
    -When giving flowers or putting them in a vase, put only an odd number, because even symbolizes death and is proper only for graves.
    -Wearing clothes into banya will cause the evil spirits that live there to curse the clothing, and in some areas, one cannot bathe and go to church on the same day, as the spirits are loosed during bathing.
    -Then there’s all that concerning the house spirit, Damavoy!

    Doe Deere Reply:

    Yay, I remember all of these! :D

  • Julia says:

    Amazing read! Loved this! =]]

    I cant really think of any interesting superstitions in my culture either. BUT! My boyfriend is Native American and there are a few superstitions that come to mind…
    -No whistling at night because it calls the Skinwalkers. (Evil spirits that take form of humans)
    -Babies cant look into mirrors.
    -Hear/see an owl and its bad luck.


  • Ellen Yates says:

    I have a personal superstition that I’m worried about right now…I’m traveling by train this Saturday (Sept 11)and worried about a bomb going off because of the 9-11 anniversary.

    I’ve always talked out loud to stuffed animals and now to my books because I’m afraid to show favoritism toward any in case I hurt their feelings.

    I love Russian folklore… I didn’t know many of these, thanks!

    kaiya Reply:

    i used to do that… sometimes i still do! well, it was more me hugging them than takling to them. :~D

  • Melinda says:

    OMG this couldn’t have been a better discussion topic than I had ever heard of one! I love the subject of folklore and superstion because the two go hand in had perfectly! I’m Mexican, and between my two parents I have learned some amazing folklore that deals with the superstitions they and my family have. At the moment, I’m at school writing this during a test (I’m such a bad teacher!) I just HAD to write this comment because I love this topic!

    1. Never EVER EVER place your baby’s crib next to the window, or La Chusa ( La Chew-sa: the owl woman) will steal your baby at night for her own evil deeds. The owl in some rural Mexican (and Native American folklore to my understanding) is a sign of a bad omen, something to listen to. My mother is a very understanding modern woman, but every now and then an Owl will be in our back yard, and once the hooting starts, shivers run up my mother’s spine. To her bad things happen at the sound of an owl hooting. My pets aren’t even allowed outside if an owl is out there! A good fiction novel to give perspective on the Owl is Rudolpho Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima.

    2. As a child NEVER EVER EVER wander around streams, rivers or lakes, or La Llorona (La Yo-ro-na: The crying woman) will kidnap you thinking you’re her child she drowned. If you would like me to go more into detail on this one I will! Its folklore mixed with superstition.

    3. When injured or sick take an egg and hover it in circles around your body to relieve you of Mal de Ojo (Ma[as in Mad]-l de O-ho: The Evil Eye). Once you’re finished with the egg, you then go under your bed, and crack the egg on the floor boards releasing the contents, and the evil spirit, then you place the shell in a dish underneat the bed. Once the evil has been thwarted the egg should have cooked due to the heat radiating from the evil’s anger at being taken from its host. I have had this done to me only once, and that was because my grandmother didn’t know what an asthma attack was, and even after my treatment and inhaler, she did this because an evil spirit was trying to kill me through my lungs.

    4. Never put peacock feathers in your house, the peacock is a bird of the evil eye (from the tail plumage). To have a peacock feather in the house, means an invitation of evil to your house (not sure if this is Mexican folklore since peacocks are not native to the Americas, but maybe something passed down from integration of other cultures.

    5. La Malhora (La Mal Or-a: The Evil Hour, notice how many of these are women?) is a demon woman, who appears at the crossroads on a dark night at the evil hour (Midnight to some, others 11, or 3) she signifies the death of you, or someone who is close to you. I only heard of it in whispers at the time of my uncle’s suicide. Many relatives saying that they were waiting for a light to change and they saw her coming towards them, from their description a beautiful woman with malice and hate on her face and red in her eyes, or just a demon beast with female attributes. Here’s a great story on her here, I’m not sure if this is a true account, but the horror is there.

    6. Dia de los Muertos, or day of the dead is basically a Mexican Halloween, on the 31st or on the 1st (some celebrate it differently) you go to your family’s graves and leave their favorite food, wine or beer, as a way of remembrance. Some even clean the graves and have a family meal right on top of it. Family is a very central focus of the Mexican culture, and even those that have had departed us in death, are still with us in life. Weird as it sounds, visit rural Mexico during this holiday, many people will be in the cemeteries with candles, lights, food and some even bring Mariachi bands, this is more of a celebration than mourning. Here’s a good history on Dia De Los Muertos

    Thats it for now, I know I’ve written a book, but I love superstition and folklore, its just a great way to look at someone else’s culture and see similarities to your own superstitions and fears.

    <3 Melinda

    Jela Reply:

    Wow.. I loved these. I am taking a course on Religion and American Ethinic Minorities this semester and one of the books we have to read is Bless me, Ultim. I love Owls and am not very excited to read this!

    Thank you!

    Doe Deere Reply:

    These are amazing! Thanks for posting, Melinda!

    Doe Deere Reply:

    Oh, and I would love to hear more about La Llorona!

    Melinda Reply:

    THis is how it was told to me.

    There was this beautiful woman, who had all the things she ever wanted, a beautiful Hacienda, a husband, wealth and her dear children.

    She was the talk of the town, she knew people whispered things about her husband, but she never listened, till one day she saw her husband in the arms of another woman.

    Stricken with grief, she went back home to a river that passed through their land, her children followed. Knowing what her husband had done, and the scandal that would follow, she knew she had to cause him the grief he gave her, and thus drowned her children in a state of panic, grief and embarrassment. Wanting to drown herself in the process, she was discovered by her servants, taken before council and was hung for killing her children.

    Her ghost, remorseful for what she had done, spends nights by lakes, rivers and streams, looking for the children she had drowned many years ago. Children are asked to be careful around water at night, because if they go too close to the water, La Llorona will mistaken them as one of her children and spirit them into the water where she is, with her collection of stolen children. You know when La Llorona is coming too, she is wailing “!Donde esta mis ninos! !Donde! !Donde!” (Where are my children! Where! Where!)

    I still don’t go near water at night, even a pool!

    Sandra Reply:

    I know these stories so well. I am half mexican/ italian.

    The ojo, my 100 year grandma does that one to this day. Only difference, your body is covered with a sheet and then she rubs the egg on your body while chanting the special chants. Breaks the egg into a glass of water and under your bed it goes. If the eye appears, then someone gave you ojo. (there were times the eyes appeared). If the eye cooks, (seen it happen) redo.

    Don’t forget you have to carry EL OJO De ciervos (doe’s eye) don’t worry it’s a stone, to keep the evil eye away

    The others one are about he same, but I must admit never heard of the peacock feather one.

    Let’s see what else,

    1. The penny at the front door so money will aways come in.
    2. When someone dies in your family, you cover all the mirrors and windows so the soul doesn’t stay in your home
    3. My grandma always did this one, would drive me nuts. When there a lightening storm, she would cover the mirroes witha sheet and cover my head with a towel. She said it would keep the evil from coming in.
    4. Don’t sweep dirt out the door, cause you’re sweeping your money away
    5. Don’t leave the door of your closet at night, or the evil spirts will come in.
    6. Never leave shoes at the head of your bed or you’ll have nightmares
    7. when chopping onions and you cry, you are a jealous person
    8. Never try a wedding veil unless you are bride, you’re marriage will end up in divorce
    9. If your wedding ring gets lost or falls off, it’s a sign your wedding is in trouble
    10 you drop a spoon on the floor, someone’s coming over
    11 if you right hand itches, you’ll get money. The left hand you’ll meet someone. Your nose, someone wants to see you
    12. If you dream of a wedding, someone you know will die
    13 Ladybugs are good luck, if they land on you
    14. If you were a cross and the chain busts, someone is doing witchcraft to you
    15. if you accidently put your clothes on inside out, means you’ll get a gift
    16. Let us not forget the Chupacabra.

    There are so many more, but I’ll stop there.


    Melinda Reply:

    HAHA, my mom does the sweeping thing, she’s so adamant about not sweeping out the door.

    My mom told me this one this morning, Never sleep with your hands clutch to your chest, or you’ll have evil nightmares, and to never sleep without your rosary or evil will get you while you sleep. My rosary is always above my bed, parents orders.

    I think the Chupacabra goes without saying :-D!

    Sandra Reply:

    Same here about the rosary over the bed. My grandma would have a fit if I remove it.

    Your mom does the sweeping one, good to know it isn’t just my family.

    Her one, my cousin told me. When you go to bed never let your hand hang over the bed or Satan will take you away.

  • Lana Gabonna says:

    My mother is South Korean and she’s told me and my sister all of the superstitions and her scary stories.
    tokidoki is right about the #4 superstition since my mom’s brother had some kind of experience with that.
    He lived on the 4th floor of his apt, and it was around 2AM in Korea. He was a college student at the time, and he studied very late. When he walked into the elevator, he pressed 4, and it started to go up. But when it reached floor 3, the elevator stopped. The doors only opened halfway so he squeezed through and started running for the stairs.
    While he was running on the stairs, it felt like someone was grabbing his feet or something.
    He finally got to his room and locked the door.

    Next day he moved out. Scary.

  • Squid says:

    This was excellent, entertaining and educational! I love the photos as well. My father is Igbo and I was never as a child ever allowed to use my left hand for anything. It’s considered a sign of ill intent and even in modern Igbo society you shouldn’t EVER give someone an object with your left hand. It’s a threat. As a child my father wouldn’t allow me to write left-handed.

    And then, of course the typical American superstitions. Don’t step on cracks in the sidewalk (this mainly applies to children), if you spill salt throw some over your shoulder, thirteen is unlucky, don’t walk under ladders, don’t let a black cat cross your path, breaking a mirror leads to seven years of bad luck, and that’s all that comes to mind immediately. Most people who strictly follow these superstitions are considered weird. I can’t think of many folktales that come originally from America because I’m not particularly knowledgable in Native American folktales.

    kaiya Reply:

    you know its strange, 13 is my lucky number :D

    Kate & Zena Reply:

    Squid–Believe it or not, those aren’t “American” superstitions; they’re English superstitions. They were carried over from England.

    Squid Reply:

    We Americans have no original superstitions. T.T
    Thanks for the correction.

    Veronica Reply:

    We in Italy have many of those (the salt, ladders, black cats and mirrors), so I think that might just be western European folklore or something (:

  • Gillian says:

    My mom’s family is German and Ukranian, and her mother (the Ukranian side) had a lot of similar superstitions that have been passed down.

    To this day, my mom and I both knock on wood for luck, and she refuses to take the trash out at night. It always goes out first thing the next morning.

    Although, my grandfath

  • Gillian says:

    *Although, my grandfather and his sister also knock on wood and do the spit thing, so maybe they’re Jewish superstitions, and not just Russian ones.

    (my comment got submitted before it was finished!)

    Melody Reply:

    I grew up in Germany and have a German mother. She taught me the knock on wood ritual. My maternal family is neither Jewish nor has any ties to Eastern Europe, so it might just as well be a German thing also! :)

  • Luna says:

    I don’t know if it’s any specific heritage, but my family has always had some specific superstitions. Spilling certain things requires “undoing,” or at least making it look more purposeful, being pooped on by birds is always fabulous luck, and itching on certain parts of the body all mean different things. Even if we can’t often remember what they are (it’s not uncommon for my mother or I to ask no one in particular, “wait, is it the left hand or the right hand that means money? I need some new shoes”).
    I’d say it’s Italian, since my mother’s family was predominantly Italian/gypsy, but it might be Polish, since we’ve got a lot of that, too…

  • Lauren C. says:

    most of those superstitions are ones I grew up with; I was raised by my Polish side of the family, so I bet that’s why.

    my mom also knocks on her head if there’s no wood present!

    my grandma has been known to write some Polish phrase over the doors in chalk to keep out demons. my mother jokes that she keeps getting in anyway.

    we also say “rabbit rabbit” at the beginning of every month. it’s good luck supposedly, and when I researched it I found that the tradition goes back to the early 1400s. As a historian I feel an obligation to keep it going. :)

    I researched Italian superstitions once since I didn’t grow up around that side of the family and I found that keeping birds in the house is considered bad luck and if you forgot something at the house, it’s bad luck to go back for it. glad I didn’t grow up with the latter, I always forget something!

    Doe Deere Reply:

    Never heard of the “rabbit rabbit”. How cute!

    Amy (Confessions of a Fashion Editor) Reply:

    In Britain, it’s “White rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits” on the first day of every month, for good luck.

    It’s mote out of habit now, though! :)

  • Natalie says:

    These are facsinating, thanks for sharing!

  • Pyret says:

    A swedish example: I was never allowed to bring a certain plant into the house as a child. In swedish it’s called “ljung”, and I believe it’s called calluna or heather in english. If you bring this plant indoors, it means you are bringing death into your house. My father wouldn’t even allow me to walk through the apartment with the plant to put it out on the balcony.

  • Megan says:

    Here are some german ones :)

    Whoever harms or kills a cat shall meet with great misfortune.

    It is not good to kill spiders. No Ideas why, I was always told that though. My grandma said because if you do they will assist in your death.

    If a stork builds its nest on your roof or chimney, you will live long and be wealthy.

    And if you have a cold ( freezing) shower on easter morning you will have good luck the rest of the year!

    Doe Deere Reply:

    That’s right about the cat, they will meet a great misfortune in the form of ME!!!

    Ollie Reply:

    Speaking of cats, there was a news report about a week ago about a lady petting and tossing a cat on the trash. She received many death threats, although I’m not sure if she was held in protective custody.

    Amy (Confessions of a Fashion Editor) Reply:

    It was a woman in Britain who out her neighbour’s cat in a wheely bin. She was reprimanded, and yes, recieved numerous threats, but is more a national joke than anything else, now!

    Natasha Reply:

    Maybe I should invest in one of those bug-sucking wands that you can opt to kill the spider or not. I can’t stand spiders, but I certainly don’t want to die by one!

  • Anna says:

    Jews have some of these popular superstitions:

    Pulling someone’s ear when they sneeze if there is a death related topic in the room (funeral, talking about a dead relative, you get the idea)

    Placing Salt in Pockets and Corners of the Room

    and chewing on thread!

  • picaropicara says:

    If you have put a piece of clothing on the wrong way round, it is bad luck to change it. But if you happen to come across a fairy circle or a place where you feel fairies may have cursed you, the best way to turn the curse around is to turn a piece of clothing inside out.
    Seeing two magpies is bad luck.
    A woman whistling is (apparently) vulgar and bad luck. Our version of whistling at night, was that you should never whistle before the cock crows. I was told it was connected to Christian mythology and renouncing Christ.
    Owls, ravens and crowing hens are signs of ill-fortune. Finding a toad on your doorstep is also hideous bad luck and the toad should be put to a messy death to reverse the curse.
    If you come to a tomb, cairn or dolmen (old grave-place) then it is probably protected by dark sprites or spriggans who must be placated, but are best avoided for they will call on dark powers to do their duty. An old Cornish superstition also involves Knockers, knockermen or knackers, little elves who live and work in mines. If you should happen to go to one, you must be sure to leave a piece of food there so they’ll protect the mine from collapse.

  • Jinn says:

    My grandmother was Chinese, so I always grew up with the belief that it was horrible bad luck to kill a cricket. I never believed it, but my mother does and she’ll go crazy if she ever sees or hears of you trying to harm one.

  • M says:

    I think if you’re going to copy someone’s article, you might want to credit the original author.

    J Reply:

    I think if you’re going to post a comment like this, you should link to the original article.

  • Kristy says:

    That was very interesting. Thanks for sharing them!

  • Avarine says:

    that was so interesting Doe, and I loved reading everybody’s superstitions and folklore from other cultures!

  • Kristina says:

    really interesting post, Doe. i really enjoyed it. :)

  • Shannon says:

    My family follows a lot of the ones you mentioned.

    According to my grandparents its also bad luck to put a hat on the bed. And my mother taught us that when walking and holding hands, if you have to let go to get around an object you say “bread and butter”. My great grandmother collected elephants and said that its bad luck for an elephant to be pictured with its trunk down.

    These are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head, aside from the ones you listed ^^

  • 40sfemme says:

    Oooh! I love this topic!
    I always thought that knocking on wood was a popular American and English tradition (though in the UK we say “touch wood”, not “knock” on it), and I’m surprised not that many people have mentioned it.
    My favorite thing is a little English rhyme to do with magpies:
    One for sorrow
    Two for joy
    Three for a girl
    Four for a boy
    Five for silver
    Six for gold
    Seven for a secret never to be told
    Eight for a wish
    Nine for a kiss
    Ten for a bird you must not miss
    Unfortunately, unless it’s spring time, it is mostly likely you will only see one magpie at a time, which signals sorrow.


  • yellowpython says:

    Have you ever seen “Bells From The Deep”? It is a film by Werner Herzog about religion and superstition in Russia (mostly).

    Doe Deere Reply:

    I haven’t, is it worth seeing?

    yellowpython Reply:

    It is pretty hard to find and I’ve only seen small clips of it, but from what I’ve seen it looks great. Although, it is very much a Herzog documentary, which is not everybody’s cup of tea.

  • Ollie says:

    that is very interesting, my parents are very superstitious, many derive from religion, those two last “good” superstitions sound like bad luck in western culture. Like crossing paths with a black cat or walking under ladder

    On Christmas my mom used to ask me to turn my underwear inside out and put a glass of water with egg yolk under my bed, looking back, it’s kind of silly.

    Doe Deere Reply:

    What was that supposed to do??

    Ollie Reply:

    to prevent evil spirits
    it’s Voodoo. Not the bad kind though, many people have a misconception of Voodoo as being evil, it is a ancient religion.

  • Katya says:

    Ooh, since I come from a place near Russia – Poland, namely – I have heard about all of them! :))) My mum is a walking encyclopaedia of superstitions.
    I may add also:
    - never give anyone shoes as a present, because that is the omen of death (spooky, right?)
    - if your left hand itches, it means you’ll find/get some money; if your right hand itches, it means you’ll meet someone.
    - you should never put your bag on the floor, because if you do, all the money will flee from it ;)
    - and my personal favourite: if you’re having hiccups, that means your mother-in-law is speaking about you this very moment.

  • Jessica says:

    I loved that post! Though probably wasn’t a good idea to read the other comments before bed…eep.
    An unfortunate tradition in my family (my mother is German) is to have sauerkraut (blerggh!) on New Year’s Eve, to ensure fortune during the new year.

  • Phoebe says:

    I don’t know if this is unique to my area or a worldwide superstition, but you shouldn’t wear green, because it’s the fairies’ colour and it angers them. :)

    Doe Deere Reply:

    How cute! Kind of like Prince, never wear purple around Prince because it’s HIS color!!! Haha.

  • Ariel Grimm says:

    I love this article…it reminds me of a song lyric from Tokyo Police Club… “It’s an ancient Russian proverb..I doubt it’s one that you’ve heard…”

  • Nathalia says:

    Brazilians have a boatload of superstitions but the only one I do follow is flipping over your flip flops if it’s facing down, if not your mom will die lolol. It’s silly but after you do it as much as I did as a kid, you end up getting used to it. Brazilian’s also believe that if there’s an owl on your rooftop, someone in there is going to die.

    And on a sidenote, since you’re the Unicorn Queen, I came across this accessory that you put on your bike instantly transforming it into a unicorn:

    I instantly thought of you on it lolol.

    Doe Deere Reply:

    I’ve seen that bicycle thing before, I totally want one!

  • Camila F. says:

    I’ve met a russian girl that never lets an empty bottle on the table. She says it’s bad luck!

    Doe Deere Reply:

    Yep, that’s another common one.

  • kim says:

    I’m surprised no one from the US has mentioned lifting your feet off the car floor when driving over train tracks, or holding your breath when you pass a cemetary. Not sure of the history of either. There’s also the tapping on the dashboard if you drive through a yellow light.

    A lot of people here say “knock on wood” when talking about bad happenings, but you’re actually supposed to knock WHILE you’re saying it so the devil can’t hear.

    Doe Deere Reply:

    Never heard of either of those! Very interesting!

    Melinda Reply:

    Down here in Houston, when you go through the yellow light, you put your hand on the roof of the car…not sure why, but very similar to the dashboard.

    Sandra Reply:

    I too am a texas girl, Corpus Christi.

    I heard about the yellow light, but never understood why.

  • Nana Blue says:

    Hold your breathe when you pass through a tunnel or under an archway. I’m not sure of the consequences, but that’s what you do. :D

    Doe Deere Reply:

    I feel like it’s a natural thing to want to do, somehow!

    Natasha Reply:

    Especially in the pedestrian tunnels in Moscow/St. P..

  • Nana Blue says:


    -When you take any form of martial arts, it is considered horrific amounts of bad luck to wash the belt that shows your rank, because it washes away the good luck, experience and wisdom that has been passed down by instructors and by past experiences.

    -It’s the same basic thing with sumo wrestlers, too, but they don’t wash their diaper things instead of a belt in the before-mentioned scenario. At least karate belts stay relatively clean, though. Ewwww. :P

    Doe Deere Reply:

    Haha, ewww!

    Natasha Reply:

    Also, martial artists (Hi!) originally did not wash their belts and the blackening of the material came to signify the work that the artist put into their study of the arts, hence the black belt. It used to be that the black in a black belt was from all that DIRT! It would take YEARS and years to reach that level, unlike now where many students reach “black belt” in under two years (excuse me while I scoff) and now most dojo have replaced this tradition with that of using colored belts to symbolize the darkening. Most belts start out white, yellow, orange, blue, green, purple, brown, black, with multiple stages of achievement between. There are usually two belts for each main color.
    Source: 1st level brown belt, and many years of formal and informal study.

  • Chelsea says:

    Oh! A funny Korean thing my mother told me, I don’t know if it’s a superstitoin or just a story, I only remember it vaguely, but she always said never fall asleep with make-up on, because your spirit leaves your body when you sleep and when it tries to come back to your body, it can’t recognize you and you’ll die!

    Doe Deere Reply:

    Jeez, how much makeup does one need to wear to not be recognized by self’s spirit? Hehe.

  • Mônica says:

    This cute unicorn necklace from a brazilian designer named Caterina remind me of you. Take a look

    Doe Deere Reply:

    It’s really cute, wish it was more colorful though! ;)

  • Siren says:

    A Jewish superstition from several Eastern European countries I grew up with was that the colour red wore off the bad feelings and emotions people felt towards you. My best friend used to think I was really ballsy wearing red all the time because people were supposed to wear it in secret to not visually acknowledge the negativity other people might bring, but I just did not believe in the superstition. This best friend of mine did, and would wear red tissue paper in her bra. For her birthday I and some of her other friends got her a little red bracelet so she could ward off evil more comfortably outside of her clothes.

  • Marya says:

    Though my family has no Russian origins (as far as I know! ;]), my grandma NEVER let us open an umbrella inside the house, and during my childhood I always questioned myself why! Then she passed away over 10 years ago and I never had the chance to ask her about that, but now I know why!!!

    Thanks for the information! :)))

    Doe Deere Reply:

    Now you know! :)

  • Raffiella says:

    My family is Italian, and every Easter the adults chase the children around outside with sticks. Nothing violent, just little taps, but apparantly this is an old superstition that the devil tries to possess the body of children on Easter, and a ritual that developed as an attempt to stop that.

    Keeping birds in the house is very bad luck. Having peacock feathers is also bad luck, because its feathers resemble the Malocchio (evil eye). This is the same reason so many Italians wear the Corno, that little twisted horn looking thing. It’s supposed to ward off the evil eye.

    It’s good luck to eat lentils on midnight of New Years eve, and if you are a woman wearing red undergarments on New Years eve, you will have good luck in love.

    You are supposed to bury the dead with their favorite thing so that they do not come back to retrieve it… creepy.

    Doe Deere Reply:

    So weird about chasing children with sticks! Haha. :)

    Ivanna Reply:

    lol, you know what? On Palm Sunday Ukrainians beat each other with pussy willows for good luck.

    Melinda Reply:

    The whole idea of Easter Eggs is based on Superstition. The finding of Eggs can be traced to the Phonecians who would hide the eggs for young maidens to find, the more they found, the more fertile they become. They would also toss eggs at the maidens for fertility :)

  • Ivanna says:

    FASCINATING! Most of the superstitions you listed are the same in Ukrainian culture. I was trying to read all of the comments, but I realized that I’ll forget the superstitions my family brought from Ukraine if I kept going.

    When moving to a new place, bring a cat in first before stepping in. In my boyfriend’s Filipino culture, they bring in rice first. :)

    Before going on a trip, everyone must sit down and wait for a minute so that nothing bad happens.

    If you drop a piece of bread on the floor, you must pick it up and kiss it and never ever ever throw it away or waste bread.

    On Ivana Kupala, there is a million beautiful pagan superstitions that people still follow! Like all the single girls will make garlands and send them down a river, then run after them to see where each girl’s garland comes ashore — that’s where her future husband is. ALso, something about reading each other’s fortunes from candlewax dropped into water, burning a large scarecrow-looking thing made out of hay and dancing around it, etc.

    There are some really creepy superstitions about drowned women tickling young men in forest lakes until they drown.

    If you have to come back for something after you had already left the house, you have to look yourself in the eyes in the mirror, otherwise you may die!

    Dreaming about teeth signifies that someone will die.

    When sewing anything on another person (like a button), you have to put something in your mouth to keep them safe from the needle.

    Yellow flowers or even number of flowers should only be given during a funeral.

    Before a baby is born, no one should talk about it and definitely can’t give gifts. It’s kind of like jinxing it.

    Never leave a book open, or the devil will read it (I never understood why that’s such a bad thing, though).

    Stepping on a manhole cover is considered to be bad luck and can only be remedied with three slaps on the back from a friend.

    If two or more friends walk around a pole or a tree on opposite sides, someone has to go back and walk back around to where the other walked to keep bad luck away.

    Stepping over any part of the body of a growing child will make that part or the child not grow — you have to go and step back over.

    A pimple on the tip of the nose is someone falling in love with you.

    Hiccups or your nose itching is someone thinking or talking about you.

    Telling someone about a bad dream you had before noon will make it come true.

    That’s all I can think of right now.

    Doe Deere Reply:

    I’m familiar with most of these as well! I’m noticing a pattern here: most Eastern European superstitions are the same!

  • Ivanna says:

    also, I think you might like this:
    It goes back a few pages, too.

    Doe Deere Reply:

    Love it, thanks for sharing Ivanna!

  • Amanda says:

    I’m Czech and my family actually observes most of these! :P

  • Sandra says:

    OH I remembered another one, If you’re pregnant during an solar eclipse. You need to wear a key around your neck, so the baby doesn’t come out deformed.

    One my grandpa used to do, Plant Aloe vera plants at the 4 corners of the house, to bring you luck

    when a hurrican or strong wind storm comes toward us, pusha knife into the groud, so it will cut the wind in half.

    Only trim your hair during a full moon, it’ll make your hair grow faster.

    Never let a stranger touch your Rosemary plant, it will bring bad luck

    One my grandma does, I hated this one. If something tramtic happened to you. You had to cured of miedo (fear). She would get larkspear or a palm leaf, pray over your body while rubbing it over you. Then you had to take 3 sips of water, in the name of Father, the son , and the holy ghost. The leaves were kept under your mattress.

    don’t tickle a baby or they will go mute

    Never sleep near an open window, or the demons will take you

    I really should stop here, from the list before I’m to 24.

    I wonder is my family strange.

  • Sexy Sadie says:

    Otchen horosjo.

    More or less the same superstiution as here, Norway.

  • Veronica says:

    I’m Italian and I know most of those which Sandra wrote, and many others.
    My favourite however is this one: if there are thirteen people dining at the same table, the youngest will die. You can avoid this by setting the table for one more person and leave the chair and dish free or just set two different table, eg one for six and one for seven. This goes back to the Last Supper because they were thirteen and Jesus was betrayed and died.
    I love this one because I always am the youngest at both all family dinners and dinners with friends and I have been the thirteenth almost a dozen times, yet I’m still alive!

  • Jodie says:

    My family is Chinese, and interestingly enough, we share some superstitions with your Russian ones. For example, I am never allowed to open umbrellas after going through the threshold.
    And never give clocks to people-it symbolizes the passing of life..
    And yes, we are superstitious also about the number 4. It sounds like the word death in Chinese.

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