Have you ever had one of those days where it feels like luck is just NOT on your side? You tripped on the sidewalk, spilled coffee on your jeans, or much, much worse. Sometimes, you can’t help but wonder if it’s all just an unfortunate coincidence or if you did something to set it off.
Whether you believe in curses, karma, or nothing at all (but you still get nervous when you break a mirror), you may find yourself relating to these bad luck superstitions from around the globe. No matter where you’re from, you’ll want to avoid these bad omens if you want to live a lucky life!
1. Never light your cigarette with a candle in Germany — it’ll bring bad luck to sailors! Historically, sailors made money off matches, so by lighting your cigarettes with a candle, you were taking money from them.
2. Women in Rwanda might wanna avoid goat meat. It’s believed that if women consume a lot of goat meat, they will begin to grow facial hair. Specifically, a goat-ee. Sounds like some kebab will lead to a pricey waxing bill!
3. Don’t get married on a Tuesday in Latin America. For starters, it’s not the easiest day for all your guests to make themselves available, but it is also believed it will bring bad luck to the relationship.
4. While it may seem tempting to open your umbrella before you head out the door and into the rain, it’s considered bad luck. With metal spokes and a large circumference, they could cause injury if opened inside.
5. Knit indoors in Iceland because outdoor knitting can prolong winter. Think about it: your mission to create enough scarves will never end! Besides, who wants to sit outside and knit in an Icelandic winter anyway?
6. Avoid sleeping with your head facing North… or West… In Japan, bodies are buried with their heads facing north, and in Africa they face West. You don’t want to sleep like a corpse, do you?
7. Whistling while you work may be an issue in Lithuania, where it’s forbidden to whistle indoors because the noise is believed to summon demons. It’s also rude to anyone else who works alongside you.
8. The walking-under-ladders superstition dates back to medieval times. The ladder, back then, symbolized the gallows where people were hanged. Yikes.
9. Try not to spill any salt or pepper in Azerbaijan. Salt and pepper used to be quite expensive, so it’s wasteful to spill. If it does happen, adding sugar to the mix is believed to cancel out the bad juju.
10. Keep your legs still in South Korea, or all your wealth and luck will pour out of you. Tapping or swinging your legs is not only slightly annoying to everyone around you, but it could apparently also end up costing you a fortune!
11. In some parts of China, flipping over a cooked fish will cause a ship to capsize. If it’s a whole fish, some families will use chopsticks to pick meat from the bottom of the fish when they’re done with the top.
12. The Pennsylvania Germans believe that it’s bad luck to bathe between Christmas and New Year’s — and so is changing your clothes (including your underwear). Happy, smelly holidays!
13. In Serbia, you should call newborn babies ugly because complimenting them is taboo. The reasons are similar to why you should wait a few months before announcing a pregnancy: you don’t want to jinx it.
14. Irish brides have been known to wear bells on their dresses to ward off evil spirits who might try to ruin their marriage — as opposed to relatives who have too many spirits and end up ruining the wedding.
15. Never mix wine and watermelon in Argentina. Enjoy your Sangria all you want, but don’t throw watermelon into the mix! An old wives’ tale says combining them will cause certain death (or sometimes just an upset stomach).
16. Look out for owls in Kenya, as they are harbingers of death. Supposedly, seeing or hearing one of these birds hoot is bad news. Some even believe they’re sent to deliver curses!
17. How to handle your chopsticks: don’t point them at anyone, and don’t stick them straight up in your rice. The sticks will look like the symbol for the unlucky number four, and pointing utensils at people is just rude.
18. In Brazil, putting your purse or wallet on the floor means you’ll become penniless. So, even if your shoulders get tired and there’s nowhere to hang it, you better keep it off the tile. Besides, you should value your accessories!
19. Syria banned Yo-Yos in 1933 over a fear that they would cause a drought. The correlation between the popular toy and the climate remains unclear, but the law stands. The jury is still out on fidget spinners.
20. When giving flowers in Russia, skip the yellow ones, especially in a bridal setting. They symbolize infertility or the end of a relationship. You must also give flowers in odd numbers because even numbers are for funerals.
21. There’s a Korean superstition that nibbling unshapely food while pregnant means you will end up with an ugly baby. How do you like them apples?
22. We all know the phrase, “Step on a crack, break your mother’s back.” But in Sweden, you have to watch out for manholes. If you step on one with the letter A, this will bring you a broken heart and bad luck.
23. Snakes are worshiped by many Indians, as they are often associated with Lord Shiva the Destroyer. But if you happen to dream of a snake in the early morning, it means that destruction of some form is about to occur.
24. A Filipino tradition called “pagpag” dictates that people never go straight back to the house after a wake, or else a bad spirit might tag along and come in. Mourners will make a stop at a restaurant or store first, just in case.
25. In Western culture, it’s often believed that black cats on your path are a sign of danger, but don’t worry: they’re actually just a sign of cuteness. Unless of course, this black cat is a panther… then you better run.
26. When you move, don’t bring your old rags and cloths with you. Early 20th century Americans said that anything used to clean the old home should be burned as to not take any leftover bad luck into the new house.
27. Don’t play with scissors in the Middle East. They should never be opened and closed without having cut something! This could either be because it’s dangerous or because of the sound the blades make when they rub against each other.
28. We’re all a bit weary of the famous Friday the 13th, but Greek people actually fear Tuesday the 13th, because it’s the day that Constantinople fell — twice! First to the Fourth Crusade, and later to the Ottoman Empire.
29. In Italy, you better not disrespect bread by laying it upside down. Since it represents the body of Christ, it is considered a big faux pas to lay bread round-side down, or leave it facing inwards in a basket.
30. Don’t pass money by hand in Tajikistan — the same goes for items like keys, needles, and scissors. They should be placed on a table and then picked up by the second person.
31. Once you’ve started a journey in parts of Asia, you shouldn’t go home for any forgotten items. Leaving something behind is a sign that it didn’t belong on your trip in the first place… unless it’s your passport, of course.
32. According to the Turkish Ministry of Culture, those who drink water that reflects moonlight will have bad luck. However, bathing in it is said to be okay; in fact, those who bathe under the moon will shine!
33. Tripping isn’t just bad luck — it brings bad luck as well. According to What They Say in New England, a book from 1896: “If it is a stone you have fallen over, go back and touch it.”
34. New Zealanders hope to always hear a marsh crake from the right side. If you hear a marsh crake over your left shoulder, it means bad fortune will come your way. Apparently, nothing happens if it’s in front of or behind you.
35. In parts of Asia, it’s unlucky to cut your nails after dark. Proposed reasons range from the practicalities of wielding sharp things near your hand at night to the fear that separating a nail in the darkness could attract spirits.
36. Meanwhile, Welsh traditions say it’s bad luck to cut the nails of a newborn (and probably in the dark as well). If you cut their nails too early, they might become a thief, so the mother has to bite them off until the child is 6 months old.
37. Putting your clothes on inside out in Russia is asking for a beating. If you do it accidentally, you better find a friend or family member to hit you softly, so you can go about the rest of your day.
38. You shouldn’t put your keys on the table in Sweden. It’s not only an easy way to misplace them, but prostitutes used to place keys on tables to hint at their availability. In order to avoid confusion, it’s better to keep them in your pocket!
39. Don’t pull a “happy early birthday!” in Germany. In general, it’s thought to be a jinx, but one German interviewed for a TV segment provided a more colorful reason: “My grandma always said you’d have blue children.”
40. Mixing beers in the Czech Republic is bad luck (and a little gross). The Czechs take their beer seriously, so they’ll never reuse the same (unwashed) glass to pour a different type of beer. Cheers!