Top 10 Bizarre Superstitions

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We live in a big wonderful and strange world. And as long as man has been here he has brought two important things with him that have made the world more astonishing and certainly a little more extraordinary. Questions and imagination.

Exclusive to our species, it is these two things and their ability to harmoniously and fluidly lead into each other that helps to make our perception of this world a little stranger than it really is.

Our collective imaginations are really quite incredible. They can produce astonishing concepts like language, literature, societies and governments, laws and religion. But when we ask a question and find no answers, the truly bizarre happens. Our insatiable need to have all questions answered creates an opening in the part of our minds where answers are stored and imagination steps in to fill the void. The product: Superstition.

There are thousands upon thousands of superstitions. Every generation for every culture has their own. So how do you reduce all of these superstitions down to a list of the 10 most bizarre? Well to be honest you can’t. However what I can do is give you a selection of bizarre superstitions that are sure to amuse and inspire your own imaginations.

So get comfortable. Sit back and relax. Toss some salt over your left shoulder to ensure the demons don’t interrupt our journey back in time as we explore 10 truly bizarre superstitions.

10. Russian Babies

baby

It is still widely accepted in Russia, that a newborn baby is not to be seen by anyone other than the Mother, Father and midwife for a period of 40 days from the birth. It is believed that 40 days is the waiting period a newborn baby to receive his or her soul. If the baby see’s anyone else in this time, he or she may get part of that persons soul or “life energy” mixed into its own.

9. Never give a Russian woman an even number of flowers

bride

While researching this subject, it became clear early on that Russians are among the most superstitious people in the world. But strangely enough they tend to deny this little fact.

Never give a Russian woman an even number of flowers. Even numbers of flowers are for the dead. When you order a dozen roses in Russia you should always ask them to throw in one extra flower for good luck.

Also, you should never give Russian women yellow flowers as they signify infidelity and will shorten the length of your relationship.

So if you just ordered a Russian mail order bride and you are about to head off the airport to pick her up. Whatever you do, don’t greet her with a dozen yellow roses!

8. A pregnant woman should never go outside during an eclipse

eclipse-8

A pregnant woman should never go outside during an eclipse. If the unborn baby is exposed to an eclipse he or she will be born with a facial deformity.

India is very rich with superstitions and traditions. They seem to have a superstition with everything they see or hear. Especially when it comes to all animals they deal with in their day to day lives. But while reading through the massive amounts of Indian superstitions, this was the one that jumped out at me as their most bizarre.

7. Nigeria

nigeria-broom-superstition

Broom: If a man in Nigeria is hit with a broom; he will become impotent until he retaliates by hitting the person back with a broom 7 times.

I wonder if the makers of Viagra could use this in their ad campaigns. Hit a Nigerian man with a broom, give him a Viagra, time lapse 45 minutes then show the power of the little blue wonder.

Elections: Nigeria has a history of brutal violence around their elections. They are also a society that believes in many superstitions. Ruled longer by men with guns than elected officials. Things started to come to a head in 2003. The people of Nigeria were determined to have a successful democratic election and the government at the time was not confident that they could provide a violence free and fair election. It is said that the government in an effort to hide their own shortcomings and shift the blame elsewhere, fabricated the following superstition:

Holding elections in a year that ends with the number 3 will bring ill-fortune to our country.

The 2003 elections in Nigeria were a total disaster. Voters were plagued with violence and intimidation tactics. Most voter counts were believed to be rigged and human rights were violated everywhere. One human rights activist was quoted as saying “In most of the [polling] units there were no elections. Just a triumph of violence”

While many Nigerian’s are aware of this superstition today. Only time will tell if it becomes rooted into their culture as a true superstition for future generations to observe.

6. Don’t Knit on a Doorstep During Late Winter

iceland-winter

While we in North America look to the ground hog to predict the length of our winter season, the fine people of Iceland can control the length of winter.

It is forbidden to knit on a doorstep during in late winter. It is believed to lengthen the winter in Iceland.

5. Never Turn your Monitor on Before your Tower

computer-superstition

Nothing quite shows our ability to apply “magic” to inanimate objects like the way we do it to computers. Granted the modern computer is pretty stunning in its abilities and all of the various things it can do for us. But magical? Inhabited by spirits?

One bizarre superstition that I could find absolutely no background on was, “never turn your monitor on before your tower. It is bad luck.”

Another is, “always move your mouse slightly to the left before any other direction.”

This particular superstition has a very obvious origin. The old style mouse with the little ball inside. They would get covered with dirt and gunk and get hung up on its rollers. So, a quick jerk to the left would get it going again. Nowadays, almost everyone has an optical mouse that never has this problem. But look around you, there are a lot of people that inherently jerk the mouse left before any action. While most people out of embarrassment will say they just do this out of habit, some people will admit that they are convinced that it makes the optical mouse work better.

The biggest and most bizarre computer superstition is of course the chain letter. Although the origin of the chain letter is known to date back to 1930’s America as part of a pyramid scheme to part a fool and his money, it has evolved exponentially with the advent of the internet.

We have all received the letters that inevitably end with “Forward this letter to 10 of your friends or else…” Why on earth would a person living in a modernized society like ours, where we have the ability to use a machine as advanced as a computer hooked to the internet, ever believe that we would be somehow punished or rewarded magically if we do not forward emails? It truly defies all logic and common sense.

While many of us may be tempted by financial gain like the famous “Bill Gates will pay you if you forward this email” Or tempted to help a missing child in the constantly resurfacing email “Since the kidnapper won’t dare forward this email we can track him…” It does not make sense why we would ever forward anything in hopes that the universe will somehow grant us luck, wealth or love. It is truly bizarre.

4. The number Four in Japan

four

In North America it is widely believed that the number 13 is unlucky. If this were a list of 13 superstitions I would explain why that is. However, since this is a list of 10. I will take a moment and explain why the number 4 is considered bad luck in Japan.

Its origins are very obvious to the Japanese. The number 4 is pronounced the same as the word for death. “Shi”

Because of this, you should never give a Japanese person a gift consisting of 4 pieces or parts.

And much like us with the number 13, Japanese hotels and Hospitals usually will not have a room numbered 4.

3. An acorn on your windowsill

acorn

According to Norse legend, Thor once sheltered himself from a thunderstorm underneath an oak tree. This has evolved into the superstition that an acorn on your windowsill will prevent your house from being struck by lightning. To this day many blinds and window dressings will have an acorn on the pull cords in honor of this strange superstition.

2. Never put a hat on a bed

hat-on-bed

It was once believed that evil spirits resided in your hair. This belief was no doubt a result of static electricity. People would remove their hats in warm dry climates and their hair would stand up. So it was believed that the demons were getting into your hat. Therefore, if you lay a hat on your bed, the evil spirits would spill out onto the bed and enter you in your sleep. This superstition evolved once static electricity became widely understood and changed into sanitation based superstition. Putting a hat on a bed can cause the spread of lice.

1. Don’t do laundry on a holiday

laundry-on-holiday

I found this one the most interesting. I asked all of my friends and family, young and old for input while compiling this list. In every case I got the same replies. “Don’t pick up a penny if it is tails up.”, “Avoid black cats, walking under ladders and broken mirrors.”

All the common superstitions we have come to know growing up in North America.

However while talking with my wife’s grandmother who grew up in a poor part of Louisiana I learned that you should never do laundry on a holiday or someone you know will die within the year.

While researching the origins of this one, I found many variations. The most common seemed to be that if you do laundry on New Year’s Day, someone in your family will die. While others suggest that whatever you do on New Year’s Day is what you will have to do all year long, therefore don’t do the wash or you will have to do it all year long. But just to be safe, and in the interest of enjoying all of your holidays, don’t do the laundry on any holiday!

According to most modern dictionaries the definition of superstition is:

Any belief, based on fear or ignorance, that is inconsistent with the known laws of science or with what is generally considered in the particular society as true and rational; esp., such a belief in charms, omens, the supernatural, etc.

It would seem that having modern science answering more and more questions every day, our need for superstitions would decrease. But they don’t. Superstition does not rely solely on whether or not a question can be answered, but rather our knowledge of that answer.

If we are not aware of the logical answer to something, we will invent an illogical one.

I personally do not think that this is a bad thing. Superstition applies magic to the unknown where science applies logic.

While it is nice to have real answers to real questions, it is also nice to still have a little magic in our lives as well.

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