Popular beliefs and superstitions

About 200 superstitions and beliefs are listed below.
Enjoy them and if you have more to add from your own country, send it to us!

  • UA - Ukraine
  • RU - Russia
  • BG - Bulgaria
  • RO - Romania
  • KZ - Kazachstan
  • ARM - Armenia
  • GEO - Georgia
  • NL - Netherlands
  • EN - England
  • SW - Sweden
  • AZ - Azerbaijan
  • PR - Puerto Rico

Including suggestions from the following persons (on superstitions of the country):
Natalya Golovka (BY), Olga Malakhova (UA), Ella Behylarova (UA/ARM), Leila Koushenova (KZ), Valentina Sokolova (BY), Ida and Garry Maytum (UK), Mihai Crisan Madalina Florea, Codrea Ionel-Dragos (RO), Pavel Antonov, Mitko Vassilev (BG), Jackeline Mekkes, Sanne Slegtenhorst (RU), Pippa (UK), Ida (SW), Ziggy (AZ), Wendy Garcia (PR), Joe Ralston (Scotland)

by Willem Tjebbe Oostenbrink

1. Spilling salt

Spilling salt means bad luck, having a quarrel.
In order to avoid the bad luck or to prevent quarrel, one has to throw but a pinch of salt that was spilled over the shoulder.
Explanation: In earlier times salt used to be rare, and thus expensive.
Country: BG, UA, BY, RO.

2. Throwing water

When someone leaves the house, for travel, for instance, the one that is left behind throws some water, for instance a cup of water, outside the house in the direction of the person.
Explanation: this means good luck. That all the things will run smoothly like water flows.
Country: ARM, BG.

3. Knock of wood

When you mention how good things are, or how succesfully things have been, knock with your hand on wood.
Explanation: Mentioning how much success you have, may cause bad luck. Therefore, knock on wood will prevent that good fortune/luck will leave you.
Country: Western Europe NL, D, BG, UA, RO, BY.

4. Black cat

Seeing a black cat in the street, means bad luck.
If you see a black cat, you should spit (three times) over your left shoulder (UA). Only if it crossed your way just in front of you, otherwise it is nothing really bad (BY). Romania: When you do 7 steps back, you can get your luck back.
In England a black cat crossing your path is lucky
Country: UA, NL, BG, RO, BY, UK

5. Someone knocking at the door

At a certain day in the year (Spring) it means bad luck when someone who knocks at your door, is a woman. When it is a man, it is no problem.
Explanation: The same situation in trains. It is better that a man enters the train before a woman, so that the people in the compartement will first meet the male visitor.
Country: UA

6. Whistling in the house

It is not good to whistle inside a house, because you will loose your money. In BG:means bad luck.
RO: "Fluieri a paguba".
RO: Someone in the house will die. Explanation: only in an emptty house you can hear the wind whistle.
In Dutch there is a saying "Boys who whistle, get a girl with fortune". Other expression in NL: "To whistle after something", i.e. you lost it and won't get it back.
Country: RO, BG, UA (NL).

7. Broken mirror

Bad luck.
Explanation: the first 7 years you will not marry; or bad luck (BG).
Country: generally BY, UA, BG, NL, England

8. Broken plate

Good luck.
Country: BY, GR, BG.

9. Bad luck comes in three

Country: NL, ARM, AZER, UA

10. Pooring a glass

One should not take the glass in the hand and then poor it.
Country: UA, BY.

11. Pooring out a bottle

One should poor out of a bottle by turning the hand inside. Never poor out a bottle over the rug of the hand in a glass.
Explanation: the movement of the hands means wishing your death.
Country: UA, BG.

12. Sitting at the corner of a table

When you sit at the corner of the table you will never marry.
Explanation: Girls who sit a the corner of the table, will not marry. Man/boys who sit on the corner will have a wife with "corner" - accomodation
In the NL, people who sit a the corner of the table will not marry the next seven years.
Country: UA, BY, BG, RO, NL.

13. Wedding ring

One should never hand over a wedding ring directly to some else. At first one should put the ring at the table so the other person can pick it up. Similar to this, before the wedding no one should try the ring neither bride nor someone else.
Explanation: bad luck for the marriage, it will be broken soon after the wedding.
Country: RO, UA, BY, BG.

14. Litting a sigaret with a candle

It is not good to lit a sigaret in a candle.
Explanation: a sailor will die. Or more general: someone will die.
Country: BG, UA, UK

15. Putting out a candle

One should not blow out a candle. You have to do it with your hand. In BG a sailor dies, when you blow out a candle.
Explanation: someone will die. Only when a person has died, you can blow out the candle.
Country: UA, RO, BG

16. Give something while standing on the threshold

It is not good to give something to a person while standing on the threshold
Explanation: Standing on the threshold, shows disrespect to a person who has died. In earlier days, it was a custom to bury a person who had died, under the threshold.
Country: UA, ARM

17. Storing bread

One must not put bread upside down.
Explanation: This will bring bad luck.
Country: UA, ARM, RU, RO, BG.

18. Travelling

If you travel you should not turn half way; even when you forget something.
Explanation: This will bring bad luck. In case you want to, you have to look at yourself in the mirror and make a little grimace
Country: UA, BY.

19. Stumbling

If you stumble with your right leg, and your birthday is an odd day, or
If you stumble with your left leg, and your birthday is an even day, this means luck.
If you stumble with your right leg, and your birthday is an even day, or
If you stumble with your left leg, and your birthday is an odd day, this means bad luck. Then you have to give it away by touching someone, or something.
Instead of day of birth, it can also be the day of stumbling
Country: BY.

20. Walking under a ladder

This means bad luck, or danger.
Country: NL, Western Europe

21. Itching hand

When your hand itches, this can mean different different things, depending on whether it is the left or the right hand.
BY: Right hand means that you will meet someone; you will give money away. Left hand means you will get money from someone.
BG: Right hand: give money; left hand: receive money.
RO: with children: right hand: receive money. Left hand: the child will get beaten.
Country: BY, ARM, BG, RO.

22. Slaughtering a chicken

When slaughtering a chicken, a woman can not kill it. She will ask a man to do this.
Explanation: She will fetch the chicken and stand at the gate near the road until a man passes by to kill it for her.
Country: RO.

23. Ants

Ants are carriers of news. Do not tred on them.
Explanation: They bring a message. Therefore you should not kill them.
Country: UA

24. Opening an umbrella

Never open an umbrella in the house.
Explanation: you will lose the house. Normally you only open an umbrella when there is nothing above your head
Country: NL, UA, RO.

25. Sit down before departure

Before leaving, beginning a travel, the person has to sit down.
Explanation: to take the time to reflect the travel. (It is sometimes also done in BG, probably through the RU movies shown. )
Country: UA, RU.

26. Looking in the mirror

Just before leaving, one should look in the mirror.
Country: RU.

27. Sit on the suitcase before departure

Before leaving, the person should sit down on the suitcase.
Explanation: The expression/saying "To sit on suitcases" means to be ready for travel and look forward to it.
Country: RU, UA.

28. Shaking hands in the house

One should never shake hands on the threshold.
Explanation: (see 16)
Country: RU, UA.

29. Bouquets must have an odd number of flowers

Thus, never give 4, 6, 8 flowers to a person.
Explanation: bouquets with even numbers are for funeral ceremonies or cemetries.
Country: RO, RU, UA, BG.

30. Present with something sharp

It is not good to give a present that contains something sharp, like a fork or a knife.
Explanation: It may mean quarrel in future. In case you do this, it is good when the receiver gives in return something that contains copper/brass? (koper in Dutch). (see 97.)
In BG you should pay something, when you receive a knife; not necessarily a coin.
Country: RU, NL, UA, BG.

31. Stepping on someone's foot

In case you unintentionally step on somone's foot, it is good to let the person pay you back.
Explanation: By doing so, the other person will prevent a conflict.
Country: RU, UA (children only).

32. Open a bottle

When opening a bottle and pooring glasses, one should first poor a little in one's own glass.
Explanation: Remove cork? Poison?
Country: RU, BG, UA, NL.

33. Raising a glass

When drinking, it is good to have a toast.
Explanation: Originally when toasting, wine or beer would flow from one into the other glass. This showed that the wine was not poisoned and that the guest had nothing to fear from the host.
Country: Europe, Asia.

34. New house

When having a new house, let first a cat walk into the house. Then you can cross the threshold.
BG: Where the cat lays down, one should put his bed. This is the best place in the house.
Explanation: If this is not done, it will bring back luck.
BG: The cat feels the magnetic fields, and will seek the best place to sleep.
Country: RU, UA, BY, BG.

35. Woman on a ship

A woman on a ship means bad luck.
Country: NL, UA, BG.

36. Walking under the post of streetlights

Old street lights in Russia consisted of two posts 'leaning' against each other. One should not walk under them. (Like ladder see 20)
Country: RU.

37. Taking the last food

You can not take the last piece of food (bread, cookie, meat) from a plate. But, when someone offers you to take it, it is good to take it. It brings good luck.
Explanation: BG: this is called shame piece.
Country: UA, BG

38. Accept an offer of food or drink

When the host offers food or drink, one should refuse two times. It is polite to accept the third time.
Explanation: Politeness. That is why many foreigners are very hungry when visiting the Netherlands. Dutch only offer once.
In BG villages, the poorer the people, the more you can not refuse the offer.
Country: RU, UA, BY, RO, TR.

39. Hanging piece of cloth in a tree

Explanation: One should hang a piece of cloth of an ill person in a tree; the patient will recover (for Saint Willibrord; called 'koortsboom' or 'lapjesboom', the Netherlands).
Country: According to historians related to Germanic ritual, NL.

40. Martenitsa

BG: The first of March is called Martenitsa: people give a red and white thread to each other, hanging around the wrist or neck, and wish you good health. (RO: Red means love, white means life. Boys give it to girls)
You should wear this till you see the first stork or swallow. After that you must put this on a blossoming tree or bush, which will bear fruits.
If a stork is flying: you will travel a lot - this is seen a positive
If the stork is on the ground - the year will not be so prosperous.
Other variant?: after hanging the threads in the tree you can make a wish.
Explanation: hanging cloths in trees is often related to health and prosperity.
Country: BG (this has similarities with 39), RO

41. Stork/swallow in the house

The presence of a pair of storks or swallows is seen as sign of good luck and friendship.
Explanation: symbol of fertility. Swallow: symbol of peace and friendship in the family. BG: Do not destroy swallow nest in the house. Someone may die soon.
Country: West-Europe, NL, BG.

42. Black and white crow

Explanation: When a black and white crow would fly to the sea, a girl would be certain that her future husband would come from the sea.
Country: DK.

43. Black and grey crow

If the bird flies over the left side, some thing bad will happen. If the bird flies passes on the right side, nothing bad will happen.
Explanation: Crows are often linked with death and bad luck.
Country: West-Europe, 'Van den Vos Reinaerde'

44. Vlaamse Gaai

When seeing the bird, means bad luck.
Explanation: seeing the bird means that soon some one will die.
Country: GR.

45. Wren

At Boxing Day a wren (small brown bird with black stripes) is killed ritually. People carry the bird on a long stick along the houses and bury it in the grave yard afterwards.
Explanation: One believes that the wren has magical powers. The bird was also called Druide bird. Missionaries created the tradition to kill the bird on christian holidays, as a symbol of eradication of heidendom.
Country: In parts of FR, UK (EN).

46. Robin

The Robin pecks against the window during winter in period of hunger,
Explanation: means announcement of death and misery. The same when a bird flies against the window.
Country: UK.

47. Crowing of a cock

The crowing of a cock chases the night and its ghosts, devils, evil spirits aways.
Explanation: The cock is the announcer of the day.
Country: BG, Europe. More specifically..

48. Painting Easter eggs

Eggs are painted and decorated before Easter.
Explanation: the colours express the happiness for the Spring. Pagan tradition transfored to Orthodox.
Poland: painted eggs are brought to the church, where the bishop blesses them with water
Country: Western Eur, Eastern Eur, RO, BG

49. Footstep

If an old woman (who was suspected to be a witch) passed through the village, one could protect oneself by putting a footstep (with the wooden shoe) across the footstep the woman. Explanation: The shape of the cross would immediately make an old woman who was witch stop walking; innocent women could freely walk on (in connection with no. 31?)
Country: NL (FRL).

50. Rye grains

If someone finds a full grain in the rye bread (thus not grained under the stone of the mill) during three Fridays consequetively, then the first person who she or he meets, will be the wedding candidate.
Explanation: Friday is the day Christ was ?
Country: NL (FRL).

51. Apple pits

Take a wet apple pit between thumb and finger and shoot it away by pressing hard, while saying a phrase/question: where does my lover live?
Explanation: The direction in which the apple pit goes, indicates the region where the wedding candidates, still unknown, lives.
Country: NL (FRL).

52. Bread

One should help bread before a child
Explanation: According to an old believe one should first take care of a bread with butter that falls to the ground, and than pay attention to a falling child.
Country: NL (FRL).

53. Lending salt or fire.

One should never lend salt or fire.
Explanation: This will bring bad luck. (link with spilling salt? no. 1)
Country: NL (FRL), BG.

54. Lend money or take away garbage after sun set.

Explanation: This takes away prosperity from
your house.
Country: UA.

55. Sit or discuss something at threshold.

Explanation: It interrupts good luck from entering your house.
Country: UA, BG.

56. A groom brings a bride in hands over a threshold into a house.

Explanation: It shall prevent women from evil magic.
Country: UA, BG.

57. Stranger sitting on the bed.

Do not let a stranger sit on the bed.
Explanation: This brings quarrels into a family.
Country: UA.

58. Cut bread from two sides.

Explanation: It is able to cut your life.
Country: UA.

59. Cutting nails after sunset on Friday will keep teeth healthy for a long-long time.

Explanation: It is connected with planet, which dominates during this day of the week.
Country: D.

60. Girls throwing shoes

Explanation: Between orthodox Christmas and Old New year (14 Jan.) girls used to throw the shoe over their shoulder or from the house roof (depending on region). The tip of the shoe will indicate where the wedding candidate, still unknown, lives.
Country: UA.

61. Cleaning the house

You should never clean the house when someone left from it until the person has reached his/her final destination (especially for long trips).
Explanation: it means that you are cleaning the person out of your house and he/she will never come back there.
Country: BY.

62. Saying the same word(s) at the same time

If you said the same word(s) at the same time (unisony) with another person, you should touch something black, make a wish in your mind and ask the person who said the same word(s) with you when your wish will come true. Supposedly your wish should come true that day. The other person can make it as well.
So, it is a kind of small competition; the one who manages to touch something black first, has a right to make a wish.
Country: BY.

63. Watching the clock having same the figures

If you happen to look at the clock when they show same figures for hours and minutes (10:10; 11:11, 23:23 etc.) you can make a wish. But, you cannot do it in purpose (for example you have seen that it is 11:10 and you keep watching at the clock until it is 11:11, because in this case the wish will not come true.
Country: BY.

64. Sewing a hole in a cloth

It is not good to sew a hole while wearing the cloth. In Armenia: in case you keep your cloth on, take a peace of sewing thread in your mouth.
Explanation: Using an iron needle may attract evil spirits. During sewing you may hurt yourself. The thread in the mouth functions as a channel to leave the bad spirit out.
BG: if someone else does it to you the person may sew your mind; which means that afterwards you can not think anymore..
Country: ARM, BG.

65. Silence during the conversation

When in a room with more people the conversations all in a sudden stop and there is a silence, people say "A baby is born".
Explanation: In BY people say, "A thief is born". In NL when such a silence falls, the vicar is passing by. (This is related to earlier days when the vicar was the person who informed people on the death of a relatives, family member.)
Country: UA, BY

66. Staring

When a person is staring, people say "You may receive a guest".
Explanation: In the past people were looking out of the gate, watching the road seeing if visitors came.
Country: ARM

67. Falling of cutlery

If cultery falls, a visitor will come. When it is a knife it will be a man, when it is a spoon or fork, it will a woman.
Explanation: (this should happen accidently, not on purpose.)
Country: UA, ARM, GEO. RO.

68. Bread falls

When bread falls, someone of your friends, family or relatives is hungry.
Country: ARM.

69. Taking bread up from the ground

People who find bread, must put this up somewhere, for instance on a wall, window pane, to prevent people stepping on it.
Explanation: God will not forgive you.
Country: ARM, RU, Caucus.

70. Two people with the same name

If you sit in between two people with the same name, you can make a wish.
Explanation: everyone has a guardian angle (?).
Country: UA.

71. Empty bucket, basket, and can

You must avoid to meet a person who carries an empty bucket, basket, or can.
Explanation: When you meet such a person, all your things and ideas you planned, will not come true.
Especially in West-UA people carrying a bucket with garbage to the dump will try on their way back to avoid to meet other people. One takes another route to go back and avoid other people intentionally.
RO: if you meet someone with full basket, the means good luck. It's only dangerous during a wedding to meet someone with an empty basket: the couple will divorce. If people carry buckets with water it means luck. The man has to pay them.
Country: UA, RO.

72. Wedding ceremony

The groom and the bride must not allow anyone to walk in between them, or to pass in between them.
Explanation: It means bad luck. It may mean divorce.
Country: UA.

73. Funeral

When a funeral procession arrives, one should not pass them by, but wait till the procession has passed.
Explanation: It means bad luck; death.
Country: BY, BG.

74. Pregnant woman

One can not refuse a wish, or request from a pregnant woman.
Explanation: If you do not follow this, mice will eat your clothes, food, furniture.
Country: UA.

75. Wearing clothes inside out

If you wear clothes inside out, like blouse, underwear, things that you planned will go wrong.
Explanation: This is usually with underwear, which you may notice much later.
RO: this means bad weather.
Country: ARM, Ireland

76. Choking (swallow the wrong way)

If you choke, and you need to take water, someone is thinking of you.
Explanation: ARM: you told a lie, or you stole something.
Country: RU, ARM, UA.

77. Carrots

If the host serves carrots at the lasts dinner after a longer stay (some days) of the guests, they are not welcome anymore.
Country: NL North

78. Sneezing

The person you are talking to is sneezing after you told something, means that what you said is true.
Country: KZ, RO.

79. Toasting of man and wife.

Man and wife should not toast together.
Explanation: this brings bad luck.
Country: KZ.

80. Toasting with a woman.

Being in company, a woman should avoid to have the last toast with another woman.
Explanation: This brings bad luck.
Country: KZ, UA.

81. Giving money

If a person asks for money, you must not give the coins of one unit. You can give small coins of 2 or 5 but not of 1 (cents?, thus small part of usual currency?).
Explanation: This brings bad luck.
Country: KZ.

82. Itching nose

When your nose itches, you will have a party or festivity, an occasion to drink. Or you will receive some news.
Country: UA, ARM, RO.

83. Paying money

When you are buying tomething in the shop try to give money by your right hand and take the change by left.
Explanation: You will increase your finances in that way.
RO: one should never pay money on Monday. Else you have to pay the whole week.
Country: KZ, RO.

84. Wire of cloth (Knovvelband)

When having a wound the "knovvelband" was used to overcome pains and help healing.
Explanation: According to the popular believe, the wire of cloths made of different threats, used for covering wound or bruses after massage by a bestrieker (Laurm).
Country: NL (Groningen)

85. Cross a crossing of roads

One should never cross the crossing of two roads diagonally.
Explanation: It is believed that in the middle of a crossing, witches have put xx
Country: UA.

86. Empty bottles

One should remove empty bottles from the table.
Explanation: bad luck?
Country: UA

87. Celebrate birthday

One should not celebrate one's birthday before the date of birth.
Explanation: This brings bad luck.
Country: UA, BG.

88. Baby

One should not prepare a room for a baby, and buy cloth during pregnancy. The baby should be born first.
Explanation: This brings bad luck.
Country: UA.

89. Bread on dead person

When you put a bread during the first night after the person died, you will not fear (death) any longer.
Country: GEO

90. Funeral

When there is a funeral, family and friends will carry the dead person in the coffin to the cemetry without closing it first. After the meal there is a meal for the few hundreds of visitors. In the western region of Georgia Imereti the coffin is brought to the cemetry after the meal.
Country: GEO

91. Soap

When washing your hands, do not hand the soap to another person.
Explanation: One should first put it down. (?)
Country: GEO

92. Celebrating birthday (see 87)

When you become 40 years old, you should try to avoid that any one will congratulate you with your birthday.
Explanation: Receiving congratulations for your 40th birthday, means bad luck for the rest of your life. Therefore, people will try to avoid friends and acquantances and may leave their house for some days, before, on and after the birthday. This belief is not common in whole Russia, and thus not known by all people.
In Poland many people do not celebrate their birthday when they get older/after age of 30 years. They may organise a party on their name day instead.
Country: RU (city Podolsk, Moscow region)

93. Shoes on the table

Never put new, unused shoes on the table.
Explanation: new shoes were put on the dead, who were laid out on the table. Never put new, unused shoes on the table: meaning bad luck/death would come.
Country: Scotland, NL, UK, BG, RO.

94. Shadow

If your shadow is captured because the worker is catching your shadow by the bricks and cements while building the wall, this brings misery in your life.
Explanation: from the book "Dossier H." of AL writer Ismail Kadare.
Country: AL

95. Pieces of glass

Broken glass, pieces of glass means good luck.
Explanation: ?
Country: NL, Western Europe, BG, UA.

96. Itching nose (see 21, 82)

When your nose is itching, someone is talking about you.
Explanation: In case you also sneeze, you can guess what person is thinking about you. People will ask you a number consisting of 3 figures. F.i. 341, then count the total of the three figures, which is 8. The name will begin with an 'h'.
Country: BG.

97. Receive an animal as present

If you receive an animal, f.i. a dog or a cat, you should give a coin in return as token payment. (see 30)
Explanation: ?
Country: BG.

98. Ladybug

When there is a ladybug on your hand or finger, girls lift up their hand and let the ladybug climb till the finger tip. The direction into which the ladybug will fly, indicates where the husband will be.
Explanation: ?
Country: BG.

99. Insect similar to beatle

If you step on the insect, it will rain.
Country: BG.

100. Giving a child away

When a child is struck by several calamities, like having a bad health, illnesses, breaking a leg, it is good to give the child away. The father/parents should sell the child for a symbolic amount. The child wil then have a new father who will pay a token amount. Besides the natural father, the new father will take on tasks similar to godfather.
Explanation: This is done amongst sailors.
Country: BG.

101. Pooring wine on the ground

When drinking wine, one poors out some wine on the ground. This is for the dead friends. Then they can drink along.
Explanation: Especially done amongst sailors.
Country: RO, BG.

102. Not toasting on beers.

Hungarians say not to toast on beers.
Explanation: In the time of the Austrian-Hungarian empire, during a battle the Austrian beated the Hungarian. All high HU officers were killed.
Country: HU.

103. Rolling bread

When a child is in the stage of first walking, people bake a bread like a ring. They role the bread on the floor. The child will walk after the bread and pick it up.
In case a person (can be adult) has a bad health, the bread is prepared again in the house (the bread should not be bought). Pustapunic - first walking bread. The bread again is rolled in on the floor. Then the bread is eaten together with family and friends.
Explanation: It tells something about the profession and chances the child will have in future.
Country: BG.

104. Horseshoe

If you find a horseshoe, means good luck. You can make a wish, spit on the horseshoe and throw it over your shoulder. Country: BG.
England: A horseshoe is lucky when it is -U- but if it's upsise down then all the luck falls out

105. Thinking of something bad.

When you thinking of something bad or if you have worries, you should spit over your shoulder.
Country: BG.

106. Frightening

If for instance the child frightens the grandmother she will spit in her clothes that she wears on her chest.
Country: BG.

107. Putting shoes in the house

One should not put the shoes with the nose towards the door.
Explanation: It means that you may have to leave soon.
Country: BG.

108. Whiping the floor

One should not whipe the dust on the floor towards the door out of the house, but more towards the centre of the floor.
Explanation: you may loose something. It is not good for the house; you will not be rich.
Country: BG.

109. Talking while dropping something

If you talk while you drop something, this means that your are lying. Talking while stumbling works the same way.
Country: BG.

110. Pregnant women and red cover

Pregnant women should wear a red cloth.
Country: BG.

111. Two pieces of same cutlery at one plate.

If by mistake two knifes or two forks were put at one plate, the host may expect a(nother) guest.
Country: RO.

112. Hickups

When you have the hickups, someone is thinking of you.
Country: RO.

113. Toast only with alcoholic drinks

You can only have a toast with alcoholic drinks. Juices etc. are not meant to be toasted.
Country: RO, BG.

114. Death of a person

In case of a death of a person, one should not walk with one shoe.
Explanation: ? unclear to me.
Country: RO.

115. Crawling child

If a child is crawling on hands and feet, somebody will come.
Explanation: Parents may say, do not crawl, we are not prepared.
Country: BG.

116. Singing at the table

When singing at the table, you will be poor. Country: BG.
England: singing at the table is singing to the devil

117. Removing crumbles

When you eat, you should not remove the crumbles from your hands by whiping your hands off, because you will get poor.
Country: BG.

118. Bread in the fuel

Do not put bread in the fuel, you will get poor.
Country: BG.

119. Birthday candles

Put candles on the pie, light them and the person whose has his anniversary, has to blow them out (if all are blown at once, the better). Some people put the same number as the age, some put an extra candle. (to make the number odd)
Country: RO.

120. Praising a child

When a person praises a child, like "What a nice child", the child should have something red. This can prevent the child from bringing bad curses. In case the child did not wear anything red, an person who has experience has to remove the curse and will be asked to speak some formules to remove the bad spell.
Explanation: This is also why in RO horses that pull cards carry threads of red clothes.
Country: RO.

To go on to the water.

To try your luck (BG)

  • No 39: Volkskrant 06.01.2000 Willibrord.
  • No 41-49: Tussen hemel en aarde. Theo Schildkamp. 1978.
  • No 49-53: Uit Friesland's Volksleven. Waling Dykstra 1895/96.
  • No. 84: Woordenboek der Groninger Volkstaal in de 19de eeuw. H. Molema.
  • No. 94: "Dossier H." of Ismail Kadare.


by Marij

121. If your nose is itching, someone will soon visit you

122. When your cheeks and ears turn red, somebody is at that moment speaking about you

123. If a person who is sweeping the floor (by accident) touches your feet with the broom,you will not marry. When it happens to you, you can "undo" it by biting in the end of the broomstick

124. a wolf will eat you. To "undo" tap your foot three times on the broom

125 Don't pass soap from hand to hand, it means you will hate this person

126. Don't pass the pepper from hand to hand. It means you will hate this person (pepper is bitter, bad thing)

127. Don't whistle inside the house, the devil will come in if you do

128. In Kakheti, region in Georgia: if you put a bread on the face of a person who died that night and eat it afterwards, you will not fear darkness and dead persons

129. When salt drops on the table , you must laugh, if you don't, you will fight with somebody (salt used to be as expensive as gold)

130. If a bird shits on your head, it's a good thing: means you will buy something

131. If your right hand is itching, someone will come and shake your hand

132 If your left hand is itching, someone will come and give you money

133. If you visit a house, and discover while entering that your hosts are having dinner, it means you mother in law will love you

134 If a detached eyelash is under your eye, someone can ask you "Which you would like to get: a joy or a letter?" Than you have to point the eye that you think has the eyelash under it. If you pointed the right eye, you will get your joy or your letter

135. When your upper lip is itching it means you will kiss someone/ visit someone/ someone will visit you

136. If a baby boy is born in the family/ If the new-born baby boy is brought home, fire a rifle in the air for good-luck

137. After having a bad dream, go without speaking to brush your teeth. After that you can start speaking again and your dream will not come true

138. The man/woman you see in your dreams when you sleep the first night in a new place, will be your future husband/wife

139. Make a wish if you taste a dish for the first time


140. If you walk under a rainbow you sex will change from man into woman/ woman into man


141. Seeing magpies (kind of bird)
'One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl (baby), four for a boy"

142. Birdpooh
Birdpooh on you is lucky

143. Burning ear
When your ear is burning, someone is talking about you


A compilation from http://www.azer.com
Azerbaijan International (4.3) Autumn 1996. By Jala Garibova

144."Beauty is ten, nine, of which, is knowing how to dress."
The most important aspect about attractiveness is how one dresses and presents himself. You don't have to be a natural beauty to be attractive. But you need to know how to dress well.

145. If the dog barks, the caravan passes.

146. Don't get involved trying to do so many things at the same time.

147. Take 100 measurements before you make one cut.
Using the imagery of tailoring or construction, calculate carefully before making a move.

148. He gets along with fire and water.
An individual who has the ability to get along with people who are opposites. Recognized as a desirable trait.

149. Secrecy
Even the ground has ears. (Also Dutch)
There is no such thing as a secret. Be cautious and responsible about everything you say; otherwise, it can come back to haunt you.

150. Don't buy a house, buy a neighbor.
Interrelationships and mutual support are highly valued. Very close physical ties between neighbors make it essential to nurture relationships.

151. If the neighbor were good, (even) the blind girl would have a chance to get married.

152. If the neighbor were good, why should a garden need a fence?

153 Better a good neighbor than a bad relative.(Also Dutch)

154. Given horse
Never check the teeth of a horse that has been given by a wealthy landowner. (Also Dutch: never look at the teeth of a given horse)

155. Courage is ten, nine is the ability to escape.
Courage means having the judgment to know when you should run away.

156. Pilaf. Even let God think that you eat pilaf everyday. Don't pay so much attention to criticism-just keep moving ahead.

157.The forest can't be without its jackals.

158.Flies are nothing, but they make you sick.

159.He can't see the beam in his own eye, but he's looking for an eyelash in someone else's.
He is so obsessed with finding fault with another that he can't see that he has even greater faults.

160. Wrap yourself in a carpet and roll together with your kinsmen.

161.Even if your relative eats your meat, he will never discard your bones.
Close relatives usually will remain loyal to you in the end and won't abandon you.

162. A faithful friend never becomes a stranger, never mind if he hasn't seen you for a hundred years.

166. Never mind storms and snows for the sake of a friend.

167. Wish your neighbor two cows so that you may have one for yourself.
Have a spirit of generosity towards others. In the end, God will bless you, too.

168. Do a good deed, and throw it into the sea. If the fish don't know (appreciate it), the Creator will.
This proverb, like many others, is based upon a popular folk story. Once a poor man made it a practice of throwing two loaves of bread into the sea every day for the fish to eat. Unaccustomed to bread, the fish ignored his gesture. But the effort was not wasted, as a prince who had become lost at sea found it. The bread sustained him until he was rescued. Afterwards, he sought out the poor man who had provided the bread and made him a very rich man.

170. Give a token (gift), never mind if it's a rotten nut.
Azerbaijanis consider it impolite to go empty-handed to someone's home or to an event where someone is honored. They always take a small gift, even if it isn't an ideal choice. Any gift, though imperfect, is far better than none. Azerbaijanis are continuously giving each other token gifts to cement relationships.
If someone offers you a gift, accept it graciously and don't complain that it's not the quality you wanted. "Never look a gift horse in the mouth."

171. Doing good in return for good is a deed of every man. Doing good for bad is the hallmark of an honorable man.

172. A good horse never needs a whip.

173. Have you come with a boy or a girl?
This is a common expression in the form of a question when people are waiting to hear the outcome of some news. "A boy" signifies "good news."

174. He (she) doesn't even urinate on an injury (wound).
In Azerbaijani folk medicine, cuts and burns are often soothed and treated effectively with urine. This expression is used about a person who is very stingy and who refuses to get involved in other people's lives.

175. Cheap meat never makes a good soup.
You can't expect something for nothing. A proper investment is needed to achieve something serious.

176. Eating much deprives a person of even eating little.
Moderation is the secret to success. Greediness destroys.

177. Laughter is the remedy for 1001 illnesses.

178. Hair drinks (water) from the heart.
The health of one's hair reflects one's mood and state of mind.

179. I tried to draw the eyebrow, but I ended up poking the eye.
I tried to be helpful, but I ended up making a mess of the situation.

180. Hope is better than eating.

181. A guest is a light in the house.

182. A house without a guest is like a mill without water.

183. The guest's meal arrives before he does.

184. Don't worry if you have nothing to feed a guest; God will provide.
Such proverbs strongly influence behavior even when people are experiencing economic hardship. Many Azerbaijani families will not allow a guest to leave without eating a meal. They feel it is their duty to entertain their guests, no matter how much the sacrifice.

185.Daughter, I'm telling you; daughter-in-law, listen.
Azerbaijanis don't usually confront people directly and tell them if something is wrong or how they should behave. Instead they "drop hints." Several proverbs convey this idea. This proverb suggests that a person should be conscious of advice that is being given to someone else.

186. One hint is enough for a clever man.

187. The child who doesn't cry will not get milk.

188. Saying 'halva-halva' won't make your mouth sweet.
Halva is a traditional sweet of the Middle East and Mediterranean region. It's made of flour, butter and sugar.

189. One who relies on his neighbor will remain without a dinner.

190. The one who is shy will never have a son.

191. It's not shameful not to know, but it's shameful not to ask.

192. The person who learns (music) late in life will play in his grave.
Do things early in life at the appropriate time.

193. The more you know, the less you should talk.

194. When the tree gives fruit, it bends down.
The more you achieve in life, the more humble you should be.

195. The dog is sleeping in the cart's shade but thinks it's his own.
Don't be selfish and proud of something if you're not the one who made it happen.

196. Money is dirt on the hands. It washes off very quickly.

197. Nobody takes his wealth to the other world.

198. White money should be collected for a black day.
Saving for a "rainy day" when there is an emergency or economic need is an Azerbaijani practice.

199. I am in need, but not of the entrails; I am in need of a tail.
The lamb's tail, meaning the rump, is considered the tastiest part of the animal. Entrails-the intestines, heart, liver-are valued less. The proverb means "Don't insult my pride by offering me something that really isn't valuable."

200. Don't tie garlic on your head if you don't have a headache.
If a problem doesn't exist, don't create one for yourself. Rubbing garlic on the forehead and temples in Azeri folk medicine tradition is believed to relieve a headache by massaging and heating certain points. Often Azerbaijanis wrap a cloth tightly around their heads when they have a headache.

201. One's own simple bread is much better than someone else's pilaf. 202. (Suppose) it didn't rain and the cattails didn't grow.
Don't rely on anybody or anything. Make it happen by yourself.

203. I wish God had not made the left hand to need the right hand.
Sometimes family and society strangle an individual's initiatives making him long for the chance to be independent of them.

204. Galandar went up to the mountain to get rid of his problems (grief, sufferings) and people said, 'What a happy man! He has gone to his summer place to rest.

205. Until spring comes, nightingales do not sing.
There is an appropriate time and season for everything.

Many Azerbaijani proverbs deal with relationships between individuals and society. Follow whatever is accepted by the society you live in. Don't separate yourself and act independently from the norms of society.

206. Go where your kinsmen go.

207. Pass the bridge that your kinsmen have passed.

208. Make sure your blanket covers your feet.
Don't expose yourself. Don't "go out on a limb" and do something so that others will not be able to defend you.

209.The tip of the pen, power of the sword.
The pen is sharper than the sword.

Puerto Rico

210. Kiss bread before throwing it away...explanation: bread symbolizes the body of Christ. Throwing it away without a kiss is disrespectful.

211. When someone compliments you on something that belongs to you with envy in their heart, that thing will suddenly break or gets damaged. It is called the evil eye.

212. To avoid the evil eye when a child is born, Puerto Ricans put bracelets or necklaces with a special charm on it called “sebache”...it is a small black fist with the thumb under the pointer finger with a red bead at the end of the wrist used to protect the baby.

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