Saturday, September 14, 2013
SIX OF THE WORLD'S WEIRDEST SUPERSTITIONS
Grapes On New Year's Eve
For those of us who managed to survive the Friday The 13th bad luck day that just passed, I'd like to present 6 weird superstitions from around the world that are supposed to be the harbingers of good luck and love.
Planning an international trip involves more than how you're going to get there, where you're going to stay, and a sight-seeing itinerary. It's a good idea to read about local customs, culture, and superstitions so you can avoid an embarrassing goof.
Every culture has its quirks and customs derived from local history and traditions that continue to be passed down through generations. Some of these weird superstitions have become so widely known that they have turned various sites into tourist attractions as evidenced by the number of people who climb four stories of stone steps in the ruins of Blarney Castle in Ireland (I confess being guilty of this) just to kiss the Blarney Stone for good luck.
Everyone has some little ritual that claims to bring good luck. Here are 6 of the world's weirdest superstitions alleged to bring luck and love.
GRAPES ON NEW YEAR'S EVE—SPAIN
It shouldn't be too surprising to discover that grapes are considered good luck in a country that produces some excellent wines. At midnight on New Year's Eve, it is the custom to eat 12 grapes representing good luck for each month of the upcoming year. Some Spaniards also adhere to the superstition of tossing a bucket of water out the window to symbolize cleansing at the start of a new year.
A GIFT OF FLOWERS—RUSSIA
Daily life in Russia is filled with superstitions. If planning a trip to Russia, it might be wise to read up on this. Whistling in a home is forbidden, it's believed to bring bad luck. When giving flowers to someone, make sure it's an odd number because an even number of flowers (such as a dozen roses) honor the dead. Yellow flowers symbolize infidelity and curse a relationship.
LOVE LETTERS TO JULIET—ITALY
The courtyard in Verona where Shakespeare's Juliet resided has become a shrine to true love. Visitors to the courtyard grab the right breast of Juliet's bronze statue for luck in love. They write messages to Juliet and stick them to the walls using gum. This has become too popular, creating concerns about defacing the historic city center. In late 2012 a fine was introduced. That love note could now cost you as much as $600.
MENEM SHALL NOT BE NAMED—ARGENTINA
Former Argentine president Carlos Menem is often blames for Argentina's economic crash in 2001. He is considered a living curse. Many Argentines substitute the alias Mendez rather say his name. If someone says Menem, women will often touch their left breast and men their left testicle to ward off back luck.
CRY-BABIES AT SENSOJI TEMPLE—TOKYO
Tokyo's oldest temple hosts an annual superstitious, centuries-old contest called Naki Sumo which represents a prayer for a baby's health. Two opposing sumo wrestlers in a ring hold babies born in the previous year and try to make the other's baby cry. Holy incense from the temple is believed to carry healing powers. Those who are aching and ailing rub some on painful areas.
RUBBING THE INTIHUATANA STONE—PERU
The stone's name translates to Hitching Post of the Sun. At Machu Picchu, the stone is aligned with the sun's patterns. Shamanic legend says certain people can peek into the spirit world when they rub their forehead against the stone.
These certainly aren't the only international weird superstitions, but they are an interesting cross-section.