The Stamp and Coin Place Blog: connecting the past and present of stamp and coin collecting, and looking to the future.

Superstitions Around the World

We have rounded up 13 superstitions as we continue on our 13 days of Halloween!

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Don’t Stick Chopsticks Straight Up
In Japan, never rest them by sticking them straight up in your food. It looks like the number 4 spelled out, and in Japanese culture 4 is a very unlucky number – it means death. If you go to Japan you’ll never find anything grouped or sold in 4s.

Don’t Go Home After A Funeral
In the Philippines, there’s this superstition that every time you go to a wake or a funeral you’re not supposed to go straight home. You’re supposed to do this thing called pagpag, which is basically after the wake or the funeral, you go anywhere else that isn’t your home. People usually like go to the mall, they don’t do anything, they just go in and walk out and then they go back home. Because that way you’re kinda like removing all of the bad energy and stopping the spirits from following you home. Because they believe if you go straight home you’re going to bring all that bad energy with you.

Toasting With Water
The belief that you should never make a toast with water in your glass harks back to the time of the Ancient Greeks. According to Greek mythology, the dead would always drink from the River Lethe in the depths of the Underworld, in order to forget their past, corporeal lives. As a result of this story, the Greeks would always toast to the dead with glasses filled with water to symbolize their voyage, via the river, to the Underworld.
As a consequence of this morbid story, it is considered that proposing a toast to somebody with water, is akin to wishing bad luck, and maybe even death, on him or her. Many people also believe that by toasting with water you are also wishing death upon yourself, as this liquid reflects your future watery grave.

Sitting at the Corner of a Table
According to Hungarian and Russian superstitions, and surely others as well, sitting at the corner of the table is bad luck. The unlucky diner will allegedly never get married. Some say the bad luck only hangs around for seven years, but as with most superstitions, why chance it?

match-549106_1920Never Use the Same Match on Three Cigarettes
In France it is said that lighting three cigarettes with the same match will bring bad luck. This superstition – which is popular elsewhere in the west – is thought to stem from the trenches of World War One when snipers were said to have a better hit rate when smokers took so long holding one match up. The first cigarette alerts the sniper, the second allows him time to take aim, leaving the third smoker dead on their feet. You’ve been warned.

Counting Pierogies
The Polish advice to ever to count the pierogi while they’re still boiling! Should one irresponsibly count the dumplings while they’re still in the pot, without a doubt half of them will end up stuck to the bottom of the pot- or torn letting all their yummy insides out.

Avoid the Broom!
In Italy, If you’re single and hoping to lock down your Principe Azzurro (Prince Charming) then make sure you avoid people when they’re sweeping the floor. If the broom so much as touches your feet then you’ll never get hitched.

Knocking on the Stammtisch
When greeting your German drinking buddies, instead of waving, you should knock on the table. According to legend, this is because the Stammtisch, the regulars’ table in the tavern, was traditionally made of oak. Since the devil is unable to touch oak, considered a holy tree, knocking on it proved you weren’t the devil.

alp-studio-426760-unsplashClocks Aren’t a Good Gift
You should never give someone a clock as a present – in Chinese, “clock” rhymes with the word for “termination” or “sending someone to their end”, meaning inauspicious vibes all around. Watches are not immune from this taboo, either. In 2015, UK transport minister Baroness Susan Kramer gave the Mayor of Taipei, Ko Wen-je, a watch as a gift. Ko was later quoted as saying that he would either re-gift the watch, or sell it to a scrap metal dealer. To be fair, it might be Ko’s diplomatic skills rather than the Baroness’s etiquette that needed fine-tuning – but to avoid any awkward moments, it’s best just to gift anything other than a timepiece. Still dead set on giving a friend a clock or watch? There is a way to combat this. Simply ask them to give you a dollar – so it’s technically not a gift.

Woman Can’t Eat Goat Meat
In Rwanda, local folklore advises women against eating goat meat because it allegedly causes facial hair growth, as well as stubbornness. However, some people have also offered up the theory that men created this superstition so they could have more meat to themselves.

Be Careful with Scissors
In Egypt, there’s a superstition that scissors should always be bought and never be given as a present, because they will ‘cut’ between the giver and recipient. Another thing to be aware of is if a pair of scissors are dropped, the fates will gather around the person who dropped them if they pick the scissors up themselves. The person instead should ask someone else to pick up the scissors for them. Worse, if when the scissors fall, both points stick into the floor and the scissors remain upright, then a death is said to be imminent. However a more gentle fate awaits if only one point sticks into the floor — a wedding.

Ventilador_Electrico_PisoDon’t Sleep with a Fan On
“Fan death” is a widespread fear among people in South Korea, As a result, many South Koreans will never sleep in a closed room with a fan on. It is commonly believed that prolonged exposure to fans causes hypothermia, loss of water in the body, and even asphyxiation.

A Lucky Penny
And finally, for one good luck superstition, in the USA; finding a penny on the ground, especially if it is heads facing up, is considered a sign of good luck. People often use the saying “find a penny, pick it up, and all day long you’ll have good luck.” It’s apparently


This post is apart of our 13 days of Halloween series. Checkout our other spooky posts:

  1. Washington Ghost Stories
  2. Out of Place Artifacts
  3. Henry Rathbone
  4. Charon and the Journey to Hades
  5. Post-Mortem Photography
  6. All Hallows Eve Divination Games
  7. Saved By The Bell and other Idioms
  8. Halloween Coins
  9. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  10. Coins Connecting You to the Spirit World
  11. Ancient Egyptian Alien Coins
  12. Superstitions Around the World
  13. A Brief History of Halloween

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