Europe, life, opinion, Travel

In the words of Stevie…Superstition ain’t the way

If you believe in it or not, country superstitions are ancient myth and legend that has lasted. The specific root and source of every idea are unknown but somehow the tales have been kept true by generations.

You could say most continental Europeans believe nothing is an accident, however, personally, I don’t think it’s good to rule your life with superstition.

It can be said religion is related to the next life, superstition is related to the now and in opposition to the divine. Broadly defined, superstition is a belief in the existence of forces and entities that do not conform to the laws of nature or scientific understanding. In essence – the supernatural.

During mediaeval times, before proof of scientific theories and confidence in science, witches.jpgwhen bad things happened this was magic.  Black magic; sinister, mysterious and demonic. The hunting and punishment of witches was extensive and successful in the 1500-1700s. Wikipedia tells me, Janet Horne, from Scotland, died in 1727, was the last person to be executed legally for witchcraft in the British Isles.

Lonely Planet and http://www.smithsonian.com report that a museum dedicated to Anna Goldi’s life and legacy was opened in Ennenda, Switzerland, last year. Hers was the last ever execution for witchcraft in continental Europe, 1782.

General ideas are the belief in good and bad omens; charms to encourage the former and rituals to combat the latter. Cosmic forces such as fortune-telling and astrology remain hugely popular in the modern world.

13One of the best-known superstitions of the western world is today!  The idea that Friday the 13th is the unluckiest of days – one very unlucky number. In some countries, hotels will not have rooms numbered with 13 or the 13th floor.

However, if you travel across the seas, different numbers are foreboding: China fear 4 as it closely resembles the word for death, in Japan 9 sounds like the word for torture and very odd but 0888 888 888 is said to be jinxed or cursed in Bulgaria after a number of high-profile people with the number all died.

The majority of people participate in occasional superstition behaviours. Informal belief when you think it would benefit you. You don’t agree?

touch woodI’m sure you have one or two superstitions that you do without realising. I regularly use ‘touch wood’ if I mention something good I want to happen and greatly desire. The idea that this action will ‘help’ my wishes come true is better than the uncertainty of it, or worse still that by talking about ‘it’ will have been a jinx – oh, have I a traditional belief in bad omens? No way, not actively and consciously, I do it out of habit and for fun. I think…

It’s scientifically proven that an individual’s expectations can be manipulated.  Studies point to the positive and negative results from the placebo effect caused by good and bad superstitions. I actively promote positive thinking so good superstitions will not necessarily do you harm unless you are convinced your good life is unfolding solely because of the superstition.

In the worst case scenarios, superstitions can impact a person’s life such as the compulsive gambler or the fearful and anxious phobic. To me, there is no such thing as magic forces however if I can encourage good things in my direction then hey, I’ll join in for the craic.

A number of the countries I have travelled felt more superstitious than the United Kingdom. Here are a few superstitions I heard and read to bring you good luck and those to avoid, just in case!

wine spill

In Portugal, it brings bad luck to walk backwards because it teaches the devil the way you’re walking. However, if you spill wine on the table, this will bring happiness to the whole house. I won’t feel so bad if I do now!

Bum tickle cartoonAccording to old Flemish belief, if you should sneeze during a conversation, this proved the truth of the remark.

You may know that if your ear is hot someone is talking about you, well in Belgium, if you bum tickles it means that you will soon eat pie!

Also, the Belgium men are discouraged to whistle as this may decrease their chances of good luck especially that of attracting a girlfriend.

First and foremost in Hungary, they do not toast with beers. This is said to bring bad luck from an old tradition to remember soldiers killed in the 1848 revolution, whereby it decreed no Hungarian would toast with beer for 150 years.

Something's watching...
To Ward-off the Evil Eye

The most commonly talked about Greek island superstition is the evil eye. This is a curse believed to be cast by a malevolent glare, usually given to an individual when they are unaware. Many cultures believe that receiving the evil eye will cause misfortune or injury.  The photo shows multiple nazars [an amulet or talisman], created to protect against the evil eye.

The pomegranate is a symbol of happy times, fertility and prosperity. In some parts of Greece, the natives will take the fruit to visit friends and family on New Year’s Eve and smash it on the threshold so the household will have good luck.

Car poopIn Russia, there is a belief that if birds defecate on you, your car, or your property it’s a sign of good luck and may bring you riches. The more birds involved, the richer you’ll be!

GOOD LUCK, hope a bird heads your way today!

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