Some of you may think you are superstitious. Perhaps you throw salt over your shoulder if it it spilled, or perhaps you are worried about a broken mirror.
Let me tell you right now – you are not superstitious. I promise you. Russians are very superstitious. To the point that the superstitions have become part of the main culture and everyone follows them. To the point of annoyance to some of us “outsiders”.
Here I will list a few I have witnessed:
~ You may not give someone money at night. Whether they are borrowing it, you are paying them, or returning a loan. You may NOT hand someone money at night. You may put it on the ground/car/counter and they may pick it up from there. Preferably if it is in the house they will leave it on the counter until the morning.
~ If someone tells you you are doing well or looking healthy you must spit three times on the left side and knock on wood three times. Otherwise the “good” situation will turn around.
~ If you walk down the road and there is a tree in the way, you must all pass the tree on the same side. No splitting the group and half going to the left and half going to the right.
~ Black cats – same as here – except if a black cat runs in front of the car, or in your path, you turn around and go a different way. No one seems to own black cats there – I’m not sure where they have all gone.
~ You may not see a new baby before they are 40 days old. In fact traditionally even the grandparents don’t see the baby until 40 days – only the father and midwife. (this has changed a lot in the last generation, and people here in America will even go visit you at the hospital – this was NEVER the case before) IF you do see a baby before they are like a year old you must not say they are beautiful. You can say they are ugly (the parents will know you mean otherwise). I thought it was a “germ” thing – but they don’t really believe in bacteria or viruses, so I’m not sure where this comes from.
~ Never ever ever ever celebrate a birthday before the actual birthday. I tried to have our son’s first birthday a few days before on the weekend and I thought my husband’s head was going to spin off like in the exorcist. We waited until the next weekend. Also, never wish someone happy birthday until their birthday or after. Ever. Never.
~ Never ever give a knife or scissors or anything sharp as a gift. (we used to do something like this – it would “cut your friendship” if you gave a knife, so you had to include a coin in the gift.) If you do the receiver must give you a penny or some small money in return – then it’s a trade, not a gift.
~ DO NOT whistle in the house. No matter what. Even playing with a toy whistle in the house. Very bad. I don’t know what happens – but it’s bad.
~ There are many superstitions concerning birds – birds flying into your window, chickens clucking before noon a certain amount of times, etc – but my favorite is that it is very good luck for a bird to poop on you. Especially on the head. Some older people will not wash the poop off for a while. Younger people leave bird poop on their cars for a day or two – which is saying something because they love to have nice shiny clean cars.
SO, today, I learned a brand new superstition. When my hubby went to get me a coffee, my son went with him. They saw some flowers and my son wanted to get me some for Mother’s Day. Also a cake. The flowers my son wanted looked like sunflowers (his fave), but they only came in groups of 4. My husband was very upset to buy them and give them to me. **Apparently** you only give even numbered flower arrangements at a funeral. Flowers given to a live person must only be odd numbered. If they are not it is an extremely bad omen. I told him he could have thrown one away on the way out of the store, but I guess that didn’t occur to him.
Ah. Those crazy Russians….