I was a bit startled when my friend grabbed a pomegranate from the bowl on the table and threw it so hard at the floor that it broke into a sloppy mess of ruby red fruit—a superstitious ritual she does when the clock ticks past midnight every New Year’s Eve to bring prosperity, love and money for the coming year.
Every culture has its own superstitions. In the United States, you might hear If you break a mirror, it brings seven years of bad luck, or If you step on a crack (in the sidewalk), it will break your mother’s back. My kids also still lift their feet up off the footwell of the car when driving over railroad tracks (not sure where that one came from, it was new to me).
While living in Albania these past years, I’ve heard quite a few superstitions in both villages and the city. Some seem common across the country, while others are probably more regional.
Regardless, here are a few that you might find entertaining:
Friends and relationships
- Two people should not drink water at the same time.
- If two people are washing their hands under the same stream of water, the one that is underneath will tattle on the other.
- If your ears are red, someone is talking bad about you.
- If two people say the same word at same time, someone else is cursing or talking poorly about both of them.
- If someone is sick in the house, drop hot embers from the fire one at a time into water while reciting the names of everyone who saw that person. The ember that sinks in the water is the person who gave the sick person the evil eye.
- If you walk between two people talking, you will start an argument.
- If you bonk heads with another person, an argument will start.
- If trying on someone’s ring, blow on the inside before handing it back so you don’t assume any issues from the owner of the ring.
- If you use a lot of salt when you cook, you love your partner very much.
- If you hiccup, that means someone mentioned your name. Start saying the names of anyone who might have mentioned you in a conversation. The hiccups stop when you speak the name of the person who was talking about you.
Weddings and marriage
- If you accidentally put your clothes on inside-out, you will arrange a marriage between two others.
- Don’t eat the leftovers in the bottom of the pot or it will rain on your wedding day.
- If anyone from the groom’s side of the family sees the bride before the wedding ceremony, she won’ shine that day.
- As a bride leaves her family’s home on the day of her wedding, she needs to discreetly throw an egg behind her to eliminate any negative energy.
- A bride should carry a snake head into her pocket to keep the evil eye away on her wedding day.
- When a new bride arrives at her husband’s home, the mother-in-law waits with a pot of honey. The Bride wipes the top of the main entrance to bring sweetness to the house.
- If you are seated, don’t move to another chair or you will end up divorced and with another husband.
- If your shoelaces are undone, you will marry at that location.
- If you like salt, you don’t like your husband.
Children and fertility
- A man needs to be the first person to enter a house on the New Year to bring luck and for the family’s first child to be a boy.
- If you kiss a child on the back of his/her neck, they will misbehave and not listen to you.
- If a woman sits on a cold sidewalk, she will become infertile.
- If a woman wears clothes that show her midriff2C she will become infertile.
- After giving birth, the new mother and child must stay inside at the husband’s house for 40 days to keep the baby healthy. After that, she must go to her parent’s home foreek. %/li>
- If you rock a cradle when there is no baby in it, it will bring bad luck.
- Never cut the hair of a baby until they are at least one year old.
- When children are sick, someone gave them the evil eye. To get rid of it, throw salt in the fireplace.
- If someone is going on a trip, wash the sidewalk in front of the house for a safe journey.
- If you eat from the spoon you cook with, you will stutter.
- Eating food from a broken plate brings bad luck.
- Eat all the food on your plate, or your good luck will disappear.
- Always enter a house with the right foot.
- If you find a mouse in a house, someone has been inside and stolen something.
- On the first day of summer, a male child should bring a rose stem with leaves or an olive branch with leaves inside the house and place it on the shelf.
- When you get your first paycheck, buy something that will last forever (not something frivolous).
- Don’t place your purse or wallet on the ground or you will lose money.
- If you scratch an itch on the palm on your left hand, you will come into money.
- If you scratch an itch on the palm on your right hand, you will lose money.
- If your clothes catch on a door handle, you owe money.
Luck, in general
- To ward off the evil eye, hang a talisman (in Albania, this is usually a stuffed toy animal) over the front door to catch the bad luck before it can enter the house.
- If you are in a near accident, you need to cut off the head of a black chicken (and then butcher and eat it, of course).
- If you drop and break a glass, it will be bad luck—so you need to break another to restore good luck.
- Don’t pick flowers from a church or any religious property (I’ve been told there are many stories of terrible things that happened to people who destroyed churches during communism).
- If a driver kills a dog, it brings bad luck.
- If you accidentally put your clothes on inside-out, you will have good luck.
- Don’t cut your fingernails at night or on the first day of the week.
- Be careful on Tuesdays; it’s a bad luck day.
- Don’t stand under a fig tree at night. It has a heavy shadow at that time which will bring bad luck.
- Good luck comes when sugar spills.
- Don’t step on hair that fell on the floor after being cut; it’s bad luck.
Of course, no one will ever say they actually believe any of these superstitions but don’t be surprised to see them going through the rituals anyway…just in case.