Global Superstitions: Beyond Cats and Ladders

Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

Are you superstitious ? Who’re you kidding ?!  We all have that devil on our backs and have umpteen times crossed our fingers before our results get announced while trying to strike a deal with God, making empty promises of working harder next term on-ward. So now read the complete article or you’re doomed for the next 10 years. And oh, your upcoming exams? Those are jinxed too.

See what I did there? Just used your fear for personal gain.

It’s 2015. We’ve had some amazing scientific breakthroughs. We’re exploring other planets, we have a Burj Khalifa, we can print 3D chocolates(no kidding), and can live stream the ICC world cup matches from any remote location of the world. But still our modern world has its fair share of ancient folklore and some rather peculiar superstitions. Besides genetics, we’ve been passed down these traditions and legends as a part of our heritage.  For those interested, here’s a rather informative graphic.


Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images


Now there’s nothing wrong with learning the stories behind why we celebrate our festivals, and indulging in some festive traditions, however being bound by superstitions 24*7 can be cumbersome and deters you from doing things your way. Don’t believe me ? Move over black kitty, and take along your thirteen ladders because here’s a list of some unheard, whacked out superstitious beliefs from around the world:


Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images



In Japan, it is believed that if a beggar comes to your doorstep, you’re supposed throw salt in your entry way. Failing to do so will bring bad luck and financial misfortune to your household.


The French believe that handling a loaf of bread upside-down or placing it upside-down on the table will bring hunger and bad luck to both the giver and the recipient.


Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

It is common to find a string of lemon and a few chilies hanging on the doorway of shops, offices and homes. Doing this is supposed to ward off the evil eye and bring in good luck. It is also believed that if one steps on one of the discarded strings, one invites the evil influence that the charm has gathered.


There is a belief that unmarried people should avoid sitting at the corner of the table. They will face difficulties finding their life partner and will not get married. All you single people, pay attention.

United States

Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

The legend says that two people take hold of a chicken or turkey’s collar bone, make a wish, and each take an end and pull. After it snaps, whoever is holding the bigger piece will have their wish come true. Remember ‘The One with the Lottery’ ?


One superstition held in Germany is that if someone has difficulty dying, one may ease the process by lifting up three tiles on the roof. Here’s hoping that the hospital roofs are not tiled.

South Korea

Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

It’s an extremely entrenched belief in South Korea that if you go to sleep with a fan on in your room, you will die. All electric fans sold in South Korea come with a timer setting, which automatically turns the fan off after a few minutes.


In China, the colour white is associated with death/mourning. It is best to avoid sending invitations or flowers in white, money in a white envelope is called ‘pak kum’ usually given to the family of the deceased to help with the funeral cost.


Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

It’s a commonly held local belief that chewing gum at night is akin to chowing down on the flesh of a dead person. Gross.


If your nose is feeling itchy, someone wants to kiss you. Not all superstitions are bad, eh ?


You’re advised to avoid knitting on your doorstep during the later months, as this will bring about a long winter. Why you’d choose to knit outside in the dead of winter at all is anyone’s guess.

For a good laugh, here are some regular situations we all find ourselves in that are now dubbed as “urban” superstitions :

  • It’s bad luck to replace a component on a PC that’s over five years old. Resulting system will have a curse on it and haunt it all its days.
  • If you can’t remember the name of a song or actor, then someone is remembering you.
  • It’s good luck to Google something you remember from your childhood.
  • Skipped ahead and read the ending of the book ? Bad luck.
  • If you come into the same movie on cable at almost the same halfway-through point two or three times, you will get permanently stuck and never see the whole movie.
  • It’s good luck to have a phone number with a pattern.


Ridiculous or not, this is what it is. And did you notice how easy it is for us to dismiss  the superstitions that we hadn’t heard of before as we see no logic behind them ? Similarly, the ones we might believe may seem equally obtuse to someone else.

Moving on to the next question, why do people, even educated ones, turn towards believing the most absurd superstitions out there ? For comfort of knowing that they tried everything on their part, logic and faith ? The belief of warding off further bad luck ? All you sports superstitionists, don’t give me the stinky eye. Or some hoping that this would make up for their non-religious activities (read alcohol, smoking, the works) and balance their Karma ?

Well, whatever floats your boat, but as a socially responsible youth, we should try not to let these superstitions drown out the sound of logic and refrain from letting it get the better of our judgment.

Leave in comments the most ridiculous myths and global superstitions you know of, and feel free to bash the ones you learned here.

By- Navni Bhatia


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here