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Superstitions from Greece and the whole word

Black cats and open umbrellas that bring bad luck.
Βlue beads and garlic against  the evil eye …
And much more! …

Prejudices and superstitions that have to do with everything that surrounds us. And if you think that all these funny and absurd metaphysics concern only Greece, you are probably wrong.
Superstitions are something universal and they have their roots in human fear or even unfortunate coincidences and spiritual anxiety. These beliefs have such a long history and are clearly related to the lack of knowledge that existed in past societies, the inability of people to understand things, and perhaps their attempt to explain strange events.
Today we may not believe them at all, but it is always interesting to remember them. And because the evil eye is well-known, whether it’s something Greek or not, let’s start with some more unknown and not exclusively Greek ..

“Delicious superstitions” from all over the world

The bread and the … devil
Especially in Ireland, people believe that when someone makes bread he must make the symbol of the cross on its surface before baking it, otherwise the devil will sit on the loaf.
And if there is a hole in the bread (after the baking), this means that someone will die.

Eggs and bad spirits
English  are said to use to break the egg on one side with a spoon in order to release the bad spirits that live inside ….
If in a boiled egg you find a double yolk, this means that someone you know will marry or will have twin babies.

Salt and bad luck
Salt is associated with many superstitions. If salt is spilled, it brings bad luck. If you wish to chase this bad luck away, it is enough to throw some salt with your right hand behind your left shoulder!
In Hungary, for the same reasons people throw salt at the entrance of a new house.

Garlic, onions and other vegetables against the evil eye
According to European superstitions, a piece of garlic is enough to keep away the evil eye and bad luck.
Contrary, the ancient Egyptians believed that onions keep away all evil spirits and bad luck.

Noodles and longevity
Noodles symbolize longevity. So if someone cuts the noodles before serving them, or during the their preparation, this will diminish the years of life of the one who will eat it.

Knifes, peppers and friendships
In Greece many believe that you should not hand a knife to a friend, because this would cause a fight. On the contrary, it’s enough to put it on the table, so the other person can get it himself.
Some others also believe the same but for a spicy pepper. They would never hand it to a friend but prefer to place it on the table for this friend to pick it up himself.

Tea, coffee and luck
Since tea is primarily associated with English culture, it is no wonder that the same goes with the superstitions that follow it!
So, if someone else fills your cup, it is considered to brings bad luck. And when they serve the tea they are careful not to spill it. If they would, it is received as a sign for uninvited visitors.

Talking about tea, let’s mention that many use to say that if, after you have finished your tea and there is still sugar at the bottom which has not been dissolved, this means that someone is secretly in love with you.

If again, you are not a fan of tea but of coffee, you have a lot to learn …

Coffee & money
In Greece they use to say that  “coffee offers a good company  and it needs the same“…
Even so, there are many superstitions which are connected with the rituals of coffee time. Some of them are connected with Greek coffee, some others are more general.

As coffee is in Greece something which is offered at funerals and at memorial services, we do not toast holding a cup of coffee,  nor do we say “cheers”. For the same reason many do not offer coffee at the house of a newly-wed couple.

If coffee is spilled from the cup, it is great because it is an indication that you will get money.

If your coffee happens to have small bubbles on the surface, it doesn’t matter. … Again it is great because -again- you will get … money!!!!
Yet if Greek coffee is spilled from the coffee jug (= briki) when we boil it … .. sorrow will surely come …

And do not forget …. the coffee dregs in a  cup are signs for the future! So, finish your coffee, turn your cup upside down, let it dry and see seas, ships or whatever else you desire.

“Evil eye” and more Greek superstitions.

“Evil eye”  & spitting: In the film “My big, fat, Greek wedding” one had the opportunity to see weird, funny but characteristic superstitions of the Greeks. One of these is the spitting …
It is believed that spitting chases the devil and the misfortune away. That is why, when someone tells bad news (deaths, accidents, etc), the others slightly spit three times saying ftou, ftou, ftou. Another example is when someone compliments a baby, a child or even an adult, he has also to spit three times on the complimented person so that he doesn’t give him the evil eye (mati).

Whistle: We do not whistle at night, in order not to wake up the bad spirits.

Bath: We do not have a bath and we don’t wash our hair on Holy Friday.

Names: We do not call someone who sleeps with his name, because else the fairies will learn his name and they will not let him sleep.

Moving: When someone speaks about something bad, we move from our position in order to avoid that the misfortune we talked about will fall upon us.

Wood: When we speak about something bad we knock on a wooden surface.

Baby clothes: New-born babies’ clothes are gathered from the clothes-rack and taken inside before sunset.

Bells – They are considered as an amulet against demons. It is said that demons cannot stand the sound of bells.

Broom – If a broom is falling on its own, unwelcome visitors will come.

Cats – If you see a black cat in the street, it is jinx.

Crossroads – they are considered the ideal place for magic. Also, it was said that if you would turn  left on a crossroads at night, you would be attacked by demons. The ancient Greeks placed a small statue of the goddess Hecate at every crossroad, to protect travelers.

Dog – If a dog follows you up to your house, that is a sign of good luck. If a dog starts screaming for no reason, that is a sign that someone will die.

Owl -If an owl sits on the roof of a house or next to it and begins crying, this is considered as a sign of death for someone who lives in this house.

Eye – Small blue beads in eye shape are worn as a protection against evil eye.

Fork – If a fork falls by accident from the table, you will accept an invitation.

Money – If you find money on the street it means good luck for you and your business.

Teeth – When a child loses a baby’s tooth, he throws it on the tiles of the house in order for the new one to come out strong and healthy. Also, there is the myth of the tooth fairy, who takes children’s teeth which are under a child’s pillow, and leaves money in their place.

Horseshoe – A horseshoe is supposed to bring good luck, strength and health. That’ s why  when someone has recovered from an illness, a common wish is: σιδερένιος (get strong as an iron).

Mirrors – If you break a mirror, you will have seven years of bad luck.

Rainbow – It brings good luck if you see a rainbow. The legend also says that there is a treasure buried where a rainbow ends..

Rabbit’s foot – brings good luck, especially in economics.

Star – It brings bad luck to count the stars. But if you see a falling star, make a wish.

Scissors – It is said that if a pregnant woman sits by accident on open scissors, she will give birth to a boy.

Basil – It is good luck to keep a pot of basil at the entrance of your house. If you also offer a twig of basil to your guests, they will come back .

Spider – A web of a spider in the corners of the house is a sign of good luck. If a spider falls on you, that is also a good luck.

Ladybug – If a ladybug falls  on you, that is a sign of good luck. But it is considered as a jinx if you send her away.

Ladder – It brings bad luck if you pass under a ladder.

Clothes – If someone wears any of his clothes upside down, they say that it sends away evil eye.

Hands– When you sit at the table and you hold your face in your hands, you send away your luck.

Wine – If you are unmarried and the wine bottle finishes in your glass, this is a sign that you will have a good marriage.

Cheers!” – It’s bad luck to say “cheers” and clink your glass without drinking. It brings also bad luck to clink  with empty glass, or with a glass of water.

Honey and milk – it is custom for a mother-in-law to feed bride honey and milk in order to have a perfect life with her son.

Sugar – In many areas of Greece, mothers’ sprinkle their daughters with sugar  when they are babies, in order they to become beautiful and sweet.

Wardrobe – When you leave the cabinets open, it is said to cause gossip and comments.

40-day – Even today, many people do not let a stranger see their newborn before the first 40 days, in order to protect it from the evil eye.

Nails – It brings bad luck to cut your nails at night or on Fridays.

Crumbs – When you shake the tablecloth after a meal outside the house at night, you feed the spirits so there is no fear to harm you.

Marriage – It’s bad luck if the groom sees the bride in her wedding dress before the wedding, and during and after the ceremony we throw rice at the new couple in order for their new life to create “roots”.

Sugared almonds – If a single girl put sugar almonds which are taken from a wedding ceremony under her pillow, she will dream about the one with whom she is going to get married.


                                          © Lato,
Het Griekse Taal– & CultuurCentrum van Amsterdam

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