Welcome to World Superstitions – Part Two! 😀
Chances are that if you travel around the world and/or live in another country, you’ll probably come across a superstition or two.
In World Superstitions (Part One), we went to Hong Kong, Russia, South Korea, and Uganda. This time, bloggers join me in sharing their experiences in India, China (with a bit from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan), Albania, and Italy. Enjoy! 😀
1) Bangles in India
After living in Delhi for a month, I moved to a small apartment on the third floor of a family house. Two nights in, I woke up in the middle of the night. Sleepily, I thought I noticed a black shadow flying past me. I didn’t think too much of it, only to find out the next day that the grandpa passed away the night prior.
Two days after, my bangles broke without cause. For Indians, bangles are an indication of prosperity and good fortune. My friends warned me to go to a temple and pray to the gods.
Again, I didn’t think much of it. In the following weeks, I caught chikungunya, had a motorcycle accident coming down the Himalayas, experienced a visa problem that dragged me back to the embassy 6 times, and constantly saw shadows moving about my room. As a girl who did not believe much about evil spirits, I finally went to a temple and prayed my heart out.
A week later, I met someone who was nice enough to take me and my roommate into their home. Mysteriously, everything resolved on its own.
This might be a superstition to some, but I will never, ever take bangles as simple accessories again.
2) In China, 4 = Death
In most countries in East Asia, buildings don’t have a 4th floor. The number skips 4 and goes directly to 5! This is the case especially in hospitals, hotels, and other places that deal with health or hospitality. You will sometimes (but not always!) find a fourth floor in other buildings
like apartments or department stores.
The reasoning for this is that the word four in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean (all languages based on Chinese) sounds exactly like the word for death. Though the tone for the words is different, the sound is similar enough that the number 4 is unlucky! In China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and some other countries, you will find fourth floors only in a portion of the buildings. In countries with large proportions of Chinese residents, like Singapore, there is the same superstition.
By contrast, the number 8 is lucky! Not only does it sound like the word for prosperity and luck, the shape is circular. The Beijing Olympics started on August 8, 2008 at 8:08pm!
A quick note from me, Becky:
Although all my hotels in Japan had a fourth floor, neither my Seoul or Taipei hotel elevators had a fourth floor, but every elevator I’ve seen in Japan had a fourth floor. However, one of my apartment buildings in Japan didn’t have apartments 104, 204, or 304. One of the Korean hotels I stayed at didn’t have room numbers ending with 4 either, and of course, no hospital room I’ve seen in Japan ended with 4.
3) Stuffed Animals in Albania
When we arrived in Albania, one of the first things we noticed (after the concrete bunkers everywhere) was stuffed animals hanging in odd places. Mainly in gardens but also outside houses and off the unfinished sections of new buildings, these weather beaten animals are hung where they can be seen but not where you would expect to see a scarecrow. We had no idea why they were there, and became more intrigued the further into Albania we ventured as it seemed almost every house had one hanging in their garden.
When we were couch surfing, we asked our hosts about it, and their response was fascinating. The tradition goes back many generations and to put it simply, they are protection from the ‘evil eye’. No matter their religion, Albanians believe that if a neighbour covets their nice house, their beautiful healthy apple tree, or their thriving new business, the solution is to hang a stuffed animal to divert their gaze and keep their belongings safe from the jealous eyes of their neighbours.
While the use of stuffed animals is quite new, before the end of the end of communism they would hang bunches of garlic or other dried vegetables. The use of animals came with the new availability of consumer goods and no matter how battered they become, they remain in the gardens. I now have a little smile when I see old stuffed animals in charity shops and think to myself this would never happen in Albania; they would be hanging somewhere keeping their owners safe from the evil eye.
4) Rome’s Trevi Fountain
Like thousands of tourists do in Rome every day, we stood with our backs to Trevi Fountain and each tossed a coin over our left shoulder, thus guaranteeing our return to Rome someday.
Made popular by the 1954 romantic comedy “Three Coins in the Fountain”, those seeking love will cast up to three coins, the second to find romance while the final coin promises marriage.
Superstition or just tradition, either way, the money goes to a good cause. Organised by the Roman Catholic charity Caritas, the approximately 600,000 euros collected annually are used to feed and aid those in need.
Have you ever heard of these superstitions?
What about the superstitions
in Part One?
*If you’re an expat/travel blogger with a story to tell about how you learned about a different country’s superstition, give me a shout. 😀