A few weeks ago, I posted an article in Italian about the meaning and origin of superstitions. Since the article was in Italian, only a few of my readers were able to enjoy it, so today I share what everyone was missing.
Rather than simply translate the article, I would like to give my twist to the topic in discussion. Many believe that superstitions originated about 5,000 years ago in ancient Egypt, but probably their origins are way older and find their roots with the beginning of humanity. Superstition is a belief in the supernatural, in other words, a belief in the existence of forces or entities that do not conform to the laws of nature or a scientific understanding of the universe. Every superstition has a meaning and, in most cases, it’s related to the culture and customs of the area where it originated.
Some superstitions are widely shared among many countries but many are not. Walking under a ladder, opening an umbrella indoors, a black cats crossing your path, a broken mirror, all of these are known, in various countries, to bring bad luck. Today I’m not going to speak about what you already know but I would like to take your attention to Italian superstitions and explain some of our crazy believes.
A sample of the most common superstitions, or at least the first that come to mind are:
- Don’t drop or spill olive oil. Italians believe bad luck and misery pour out of the bottle as well. This superstition comes from the fact that oil used to be one of the most precious possessions of the average Italian, and spilling it would mean too much money wasted.
- Don’t sweep on someone’s feet. If you’re still single and hoping to get married one day, then make sure you avoid people when they’re sweeping the floor. Apparently you won’t get married if someone sweeps on your feet!
- Never put a hat down on the bed. We believe it’s bad luck, echoing the last rites performed by priests when visiting someone on their deathbed.
- Never put money on the bed. Not only the hat, but also leaving money on the bed brings you bad luck.
- Never get married on a Friday – Any month, any year, any week… but not any day! Whatever you do, never get married on a Friday or your marriage will be haunted by bad luck. This is probably connected to the fact that Jesus died on a Friday.
- Never wish “good luck” (buona fortuna) but instead you should say “in bocca al lupo” (literally, “into the wolf’s mouth”), the Italian equivalent of “break a leg”. The other person must then respond “crepi il lupo!” Literally: “Let the wolf die!”
- Lucky and unlucky numbers. In Italy 13 is the lucky number and 17 is the unlucky so, you won’t find any room 17 in any hotel and be aware of Friday 17th if you are in Italy.
- Eat lentils on New Year’s Eve. Lentils are a must-have on New Year’s Eve. The more you eat the more money you’ll make in the New Year – or so the tradition goes.
- Good luck Italian charms. The cornetto, corna, gobbo, (hunchback), horseshoes, all to bring good luck and fortune! They are Italian amulet of good luck used to protect the wearer from the evil-eye curse.