Russian superstitions and omens
Рашидов А. М., Куимова М. В. Russian superstitions and omens // Молодой ученый. 2015. №10. С. 1507-1509. URL https://moluch.ru/archive/90/19173/ (дата обращения: 21.01.2018).
Tatyana shared with full conviction
the simple faith of olden days
in dreams and cards and their prediction,
and portents of the lunar phase.
Omens dismayed her with their presage;
each object held a secret message
for her instruction, and her breast
was by forebodings much oppressed.
Eugene Onegin (A. S. Pushkin)
Why does every person, regardless of educational level, position in life, busy place in society, believe in omens? He believes that the fate warns him of the impending danger, or, conversely, a favorable outcome of the case. Man’s desire to protect himself and to create around him a positive environment for a prosperous life eventually led to the spreading of omens and superstitions around the world. This belief in magical powers varies in different countries. Let’s consider some Russian superstitions that can bring bad and good luck.
- Black cat running across the road is not a good sign. In ancient Russia, the owners were afraid to drive the animal out of the house, because it was very dear to them and it was considered to be a member of the family. A cat, running around the village, meant bad luck. Over time, the number of stray animals grew more and more, and this prejudice referred only to black cats.
- Wearing clothing inside out promises man bad luck. It is not surprising, because people used to take clothing much more carefully and accurately than the modern man. In ancient times clothes also served some security functions and some specific charm patterns were sometimes portrayed on clothing. In addition, clothes were very expensive and they had to be treated with due care.
- Another sign associated with clothes warns against sewing clothes on oneself just because you can sew your memory. It is not known why this sign is associated with memory. Probably, because in the old days, when there were no antibiotics or antiseptics, and the needles were large, curved and therefore uncomfortable, if you pricked yourself with a needle, you could get a serious infection.
- Walking on other people’s footprint. It was thought that one could catch someone’s disease, or even worse fate.
- Hand over threshold is a bad sign. The thing is that in ancient times the ashes of the ancestors were kept under the threshold of the house, and to disturb them, passing something through the door, was considered extremely dangerous. That is why one cannot sit on the threshold, which is still considered to be the boundary between two worlds — a safe house and a hostile world, or both terrible — the world of the living and the world of the dead.
- Return from the halfway. This superstition also relates to the threshold and that its function of boundaries between the worlds. Unable to reach the target, the man returns home weakened, and unnecessary anxiety of the offended spirits of ancestors could wait for him on the threshold. To counteract the failures, drawn by the return, it is worth looking in the mirror as it can double the power and energy of the person.
- You cannot take out the garbage after sunset. Firstly it was believed that if one takes out the garbage under cover of darkness, people will spread gossip about you as neighbors will discuss why you so hide your trash. Another explanation is related to the belief in good and evil spirits. The good spirits went into the house at night (of course to protect the household from evil spirits). So you needed to prepare for their visit and throw out old things and garbage before night.
- Don’t take anything from the crossroads. Crossroads have always been considered a mystical place where literally worlds crossed — ours and the invisible.
- If you eat from the knife, you’ll become angry. In ancient times knives were not only the instruments of protection and production of human food, but also a subject of sacred significance. Such an important magic item demanded special treatment; otherwise, spirits might be offended and make a person angry and aggressive.
- Spill the salt. It stands for quarrels and unhappiness. It is believed that this sign appeared during the riots and uprisings in Russia in the middle of XVII century, when salt was literally worth its weight in gold. Hence spilling the precious salt inevitably leads to a row in the house.
- Friday 13th is believed to be a horrible day. The origin of this belief probably comes from the interpretation of the Old Testament. It is supposed that Cain killed his brother Abel this day. Over time, this legend has acquired a huge amount of speculation, making the figure “13” a terrible sign of impending troubles and misfortunes.
- Moon. If you see the young moon for the first time in the month, show it your purse or a large bill, the money will grow like the moon grows. Or squeeze a coin in your hand and look at the new moon, make a wish and it will come true. According to Russian legends, if you see the young moon on the right side, you will receive only income during the whole month. But if you see it on the left, you will have only expenses.
- Beginner’s luck. The idea of this superstition is that people have an unusually high chance of winning, when they do something for the first time in their life.
- Luck on rabbit’s paws. Rabbit’s paw or an ear can bring home health and fertility. Moreover, it is believed that the wife will give birth quickly, easily and, most importantly, as often as rabbits do.
- Touch wood! It was intended to prevent any bad luck. The meaning of this sign originates from old myths where people believed in agathodemons that dwelled in trees, or it may be associated with the Christian cross.
- Cross your fingers for good luck. This tradition has its roots in Christianity. According to a popular belief, all Christian symbols, especially the cross can bring happiness to man.
All the signs good or bad, bringing luck and failure, originate from ancient times, when uneducated people rely only on God and superstition, hoping for the mercy of God. Good superstitions and omens of our ancestors were associated with fair intentions, thanks to which people had a hope for a favorable outcome of cases. Bad superstitions, on the contrary, caused the most negative, bad, pessimistic thoughts in a man. As practice shows, many superstitions brought good luck thanks to the assuagement of internal tension and peace of mind. Thus, if you want to attract good luck, think positively.