Community Update

World Pulse Toolkits Available!

At World Pulse, we recognize the need for ongoing learning—for you and for your community! Our toolkits are all available here.

We are especially excited to share our signature Citizen Journalism and Digital Empowerment Curriculum. Start learning today!


Superstitions are those little things you do or believe for no other reason then you do believe them to be true in some way. I was thinking of that earlier when talking with my daughters about it. I was curious about some of the superstitions around the world and wondered how many of what I believe are 'Aleut" or what.

One thing my mom taught me was some to do with money. Like if you unexpectedly find some money when you were wishing for it you have to consider it 'found money' and spend it instead of save it. You have to think of it as a "gift" from whoever. Another was if your palm began itching it meant money was coming. That one I know is true since when my palm begins to itch money does come. Sometimes it takes a few days to reach you but most of the time it is close. The other day my palm itched and I raced to my PO box to see if my native (distribution of resource money) check was in and it was. Then today it itched so I made to stop by again and my native corporation check was in. It usually comes at the end of the month closer to the 4th of July weekend. I am not sure how widespread those are though, if they are maybe Alaskan or what.

Some, like throwing salt over your shoulder if you spill some are general ones. I can never remember which shoulder to throw it over so after throwing it over one always stop and think 'ut oh, maybe it was the other shoulder' and throw it over that one just to be sure...

I will probably share some more later on but wanted to hear some of your local ones or if you have heard of these ones before.



aliĝngix's picture


You hear things in school, and around in your life. Some are rooted in culture, and some are ones you have heard and do anyway out of respect of the... "superstition". I'll share a few I've heard.

"Midnight Mirror": One in school that everyone told everyone, and I'm sure everyone else knows this one too...go to a mirror at midnight and say a name certain numbers of times, and something appears. But I have heard so many variations of this that I cannot be sure if this is just from a horror flick that is something to scare children....but either way, don't go to a mirror at midnight!

"Fairy Rings" Ever heard of stones or natural elements that are in a circle, and at night faires are said to live in them? I don't go near them...or at least in them.

...It just occurred to me that a lot of these sound like "old wife tales"...knowledge of local wisdom passed down. Some are true, some are false, some are exaggerated or their original meaning/warning/purpose lost. I don't know. I try to look inside myself to know whether to believe them or not. I have to fight that American up-bringing which is skeptical to religion and cultural practices. Though some of these seem silly, it is anymore silly than a kiss for good luck, broken mirror gives you seven years bad luck, or carrying a good luck charm? Hmmm...

"Don't wish Out loud" You never know who is listening, so you never say your wishes out loud, only in your heart...or you might just get it in a different way than you expect. Ever see this movie called "10th Kingdom", in one scene where the dad and daughter had just expect the marksman and are chained together? They are in a forest and come along some fairies. The faeries say "You wish to be separated?" They say yes, and the fairy says to her friend: "It's my turn to be naughty!" They realized what the fairy means, and try to take it back but--Poof! They got separated....On opposite ends of the forest!

"Statues" Every think that statues can watch you? I am not sure if this is actually a superstition, but realistic sculptures of people or animals with eyes creep me out! Though statues are supposed to act as vessels for spirits and the like and move just too fast for us to see, so I don't think I am completely off base.

Seems garlic for vampires, or tales around the full moon....but away from the dazzling, bright lights of the city...can you really say these "superstitions" have no credit?

JaniceW's picture


Being Chinese, it is impossible to get through life without being told you should do or not do something, based on a superstition. Here are a few common ones:

The number 'eight' is very lucky in China since the word pronunciation sounds very close to the Chinese pronunciation of the word 'prosperity'. Therefore, to have an 'eight' in a house address, phone number or on a personal car license plate can be very lucky.

Four is an unlucky number though since the Chinese pronunciation sounds like the word 'death'. In fact, in some buildings, the fourth floor is missing, just as there is no 13th floor in some hotels in western countries.

You must not sweep during the New Year since a person will sweep away all the good fortune. We were told that even looking at a broom was bad, and so when my father walked into a hardware store lined with brooms one New Year's day, my grandmother was inconsolable!

Noodles in soup should never be cut since they represent longevity. You can imagine how tricky this one is!

Chinese New Year is packed with colors, but it's the color red that is considered the ultimate luck bringer. That is why wedding invitations and the bride's dress is in red. Only recently have brides worn white as traditionally, white means death. Not a great way to start a marriage!

On New Year, children and unmarried friends, as well as close relatives are given little red envelopes with crisp one dollar bills inserted, so that the year starts off with good fortune. I used to envy my cousins whose prosperous parents would insert $100 bills in their envelopes.

And finally, as a New Zealander (Kiwi), whenever I travel back to New Zealand, I touch the Maori Tiki (carving of humanoid form) in the wooden gate that greets arrivers at the airport. These gates serve to mark the boundaries of sacred or significant sites, and each time I pass through this gate, I feel welcomed home again by the ancestors of the Maori people.

katea's picture

Chinese influence

Dear Janice,
We have all sorts of superstitions too and a lot of were from Chinese culture. We listen to Chinese astrologer and feng shui master especially for New Year. We have crystals and Buddha beads too hehe.

Poverty is man-made that we can undo.

Maria de Chirikof's picture

a cat one

My ex had a strange fear of cats but I am not sure which culture it stems from. He believed that a cat outside your door was very bad and to never let it inside. He said it is like a "vampire" type of thing so never let them in. Once I saw a gorgeous black cat on our balcony sitting and watching us and went to go pet it and see if it was hungry and he got scared and said not to. The girls said he did that again when they were at his place but just said not to open the door. He hated it when I got a cat for us and they did seem to avoid each other.

Janice, that is very interesting reading about some Chinese ones. One lady I worked for was Philippina and was glad I was a native since she said I would understand her superstitions better. I guess it seems very strange to believe such weird things and often wonder how many of the young think of these types of things. I think for my girls I did not teach them many growing up since their father and I agreed to try to keep it a bit neutral in case they wanted to convert to Islam when they grew up. I think for American youth they get too much of the "urban Legend" ideas that they know are for entertainment only so listen to others with that idea of entertainment in mind. I am undecided whether or not that is a good thing.

For 'wishes' I had always heard of it as "be careful what you wish for because you never know who is listening" so it does not need to be spoken aloud to be heard. And we rarely guard our private thoughts so it is why we always need to think positive and not bad ones.

It is funny since I thought there are so many around that it would be hard to keep up but I guess with so much else going on it is easy to think to come back to it later then forget about it.


Nusrat Ara's picture

Dear Maria We also believe in

Dear Maria

We also believe in the itching one. Right hand it means money coming. left hand means expenditure. there are so many more.



katea's picture

More superstitions

Dear Maria,
I like the topic a lot. Hehe. In the Philippines we have lots, both native superstitions and the ones we got from the Chinese culture. When we were young, we were asked to stay away from ant hills as these where dwarfs lived. My grandma and I used to argue whenever I fell asleep with my hair still wet from the shower. She said, my eyes would be blurry and eventually I'd go blind. She also didn't want me to read during sunset for the same reason.

Also, when a person gets lost in the forest, s/he must wear his or her shirt inside out so that the centaur won't recognize him/her. If you see a person without a head (like an optical illusion even for a second) literally or in that person's shadow. The person must be told. This person has to bury or burn everything that he wears including accessories and shoes the moment s/he gets home.

In the province, before little boys could pee anywhere (guys hardly use the urinals) they must say "excuse me, ancestors" to whoever unseen inhabitant is living there especially when the area is grassy or has lots of trees.

Itching of the palm also connotes money is on its way to you. When you hear the geckos or lizards, it means a letter or news is coming. When you're eating and your spoon falls down, it means there will be a female visitor; when it's the fork, it's a male visitor.

When a grasshopper enters your house and lands on a pillow, whoever is using that pillow will get sick. So one must get rid of the grasshopper and if possible have the pillow cleaned. (This somehow is true cos it happens many times already. Before we used to ignore it but now we're more careful. This is somehow link to the biblical locust, where it brought bad luck to the community).

When you're driving and you suddenly see a bridge, you have to blow your horn before and after you cross it, especially at night so that you'll get rid of accident.

Poverty is man-made that we can undo.

Magazine »

Read global coverage through women's eyes

PHOTO ESSAY: The Dreams in Their Eyes

PHOTO ESSAY: The Dreams in Their Eyes

Community »

Connect with women on the ground worldwide

On Women's Agency in Southern Africa

On Women's Agency in Southern Africa

Campaigns »

Be heard at influential forums

WWW: Women Weave the Web

WWW: Women Weave the Web

Programs »

Help us train women citizen journalists

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

Blog »

Read the latest from World Pulse headquarters

Welcome, Women in the World!

Welcome, Women in the World!

Partners »

Join forces with our wide network of partners

Nobel Women's Initiative

Nobel Women's Initiative