Monday, January 24, 2011
Learned about fascinating Russian superstitions today at my Understanding Russia class! Superstitions are a way of staying out of harm’s way as many Russians don't have health care:
Salt - clearly very expensive during war time...it was scarce and, of course, the primary source of preservative. Bad luck to spill on the table today - three shakes over the left shoulder will thwart away evil spirits. Know why it’s the left shoulder? The Angel Gabriel sits on the right shoulder.
Face time - too much time in front of the mirror is considered bad luck (the Angel Gabriel doesn’t know who to protect - you or your image).
Back inside? Bad luck to leave something in the house when you leave for a trip. Most people won’t go back in to get it unless it’s essential - passport, glasses, etc. If you must go back inside...look in the mirror for protection (in the really old days, they used to also stick out their tongue to show evil spirits they were not afraid).
Moment of silence - most Russians will also sit down as a group for a moment of silence before leaving for a trip. This allows each person to think through anything they may not have packed. Particularly important when leaving the hospital - anything left behind means you will be back!
Whistling - not if you want to save your money. Whistling means you will whistle your money away....generally bad form in Russia...not even at a hockey game!
Threshold - never shake hands or, say, hand over papers to be signed over a threshold...the crack between the floors is bad luck. Invite the person in or walk out to meet them.
Corner - sitting in the corner of a table or room means you won’t be married for 7 years. Women are particularly cautious of this one!
We talked about American superstitions and only one seemed to cross over - the black cat (actually any cat crossing your path in Russia is considered bad luck). None of the other U.S. traditions applied (walking under a ladder, opening an umbrella inside, the number 13 or Friday the 13th)...
Posted by Ann at 8:27 AM