Russians tend to have a lot of superstitions and are terrified of bad luck, and some of them are quite silly from an outsider’s perspective. My family is Russian, so I thought it would be fun to share some of the superstitions I grew up with.
- Spit 3 times “tfu tfu tfu”. If someone says something positive or complimentary, “spit” three times to avoid the evil eye. It is similar to knocking on wood.
- If you are not married, do not sit at a corner. Apparently sitting directly at a corner if you are unmarried means you will not marry for 7 more years.
- You must sneeze 3 times. If you sneeze only twice, a Russian might cheer you on to sneeze one more time.
- No talking or exchanging objects over thresholds. For example: if a pizza gets delivered to your house, you will step outside over your threshold to take it from the delivery guy.
- Have a quick sit down before a trip. I always thought this was strange, but just before any long trip, we would sit down for like 10 seconds and then stand back up and walk out the door.
- Empty buckets. If someone crosses your path with a bucket, check to make sure it isn’t empty. An empty bucket is similar to a black cat crossing your path.
- Shake your wallet at a young moon. When the moon is a small crescent, shake your wallet. It is even better if your wallet has some change that makes noise. Apparently this brings good luck and wealth into the family.
- Give odd number of flowers only. Apparently even numbers are reserved for funerals. So since roses are sold in America by the dozen, my Mom would split them into odd number groups before putting them in vases.
- Don’t celebrate birthdays (or major events) in advance. I’ve heard this so much that now if I need to celebrate my birthday the weekend prior, I will just “re-celebrate” my last one. (Though I’m breaking this for my son’s first birthday since we have to celebrate early, but we may call it “almost first birthday” haha.)
- Two people with the same name. If you know two people with the same name, stand in the middle of them and make a wish.
- If sleeping in a new place for the first time, young women will say “sleeping in a new place, may the groom appear in the bride’s dream” (it rhymes in Russian, and obviously doesn’t translate quite well).
- Burning ears. If your ears are burning, someone is talking about you.
- Scold someone to wish them luck on a test. No seriously, while someone is taking a test, or having a job interview, Russians will scold them (while in conversation with someone else, maybe a friend or relative).
I’m sure there are so many more if I keep thinking about them, but I wanted to stop at 13, which happens to not only be my birthday but also not be one of the Russian superstitions.