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

Wedding Cake Toppers

Weddings have always induced a traditional way of thinking – from the extravagant white dress to the exchanging of vows down to the little figurines topping a stacked pearly cake.  Well, times have changed and so has the wedding cake topper!

Wedding toppers have become a key element of weddings over the years and have a more extensive history than you might imagine.  No wedding is complete without a beautiful and mouthwatering baked delicacy.  The concept of the wedding cake extends back to the ancient Roman Empire.  Cakes were made of whole wheat flour and were not so sweetly lavished. These bread cakes would then be broken, possibly over the bride’s head, and guests would excitedly consume the pieces for good luck.

Wedding cake toppers, or wedding cake ornaments are derived from various cultural traditions. Most significantly the toppers represent a symbol of togetherness for the bride and groom.  Another traditional symbol is the white wedding cake, white being a universal symbol for purity.

In the United States, wedding cake decorations started appearing in middle income and affluent families before the American Civil War.  Cake toppings, ornaments and toppers became even more common in the 1890’s.  At this time the decorations were minimal, often including flowers, bells and small objects associated with the bride and groom.  In the 1920’s, High Society incorporated the use of placing bride and groom figurines on top of wedding cakes, along with all the other frills.

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Once introduced, the popularity of cake topper figurines was fueled by two historical United States events.

First, in 1922 revered etiquette expert and Best-Selling author, Miss Emily Post published that, “The wedding cake is an essential of every wedding reception.”  She elaborated, commenting specifically that, “It is usually in several tiers, beautifully decorated with white icing and topped by small figures of the bride and groom.”

Secondly, American retail giants such as Sears and Roebuck & Company began mass producing and selling the bride and groom wedding cake figurines.  These toppers commonly depicted the bride in a white dress, either with or without a veil, and the groom standing beside her in a tuxedo.  Some were shown holding hands, others under a gazebo, but all in the classic wedding theme.

In a 2006 article entitled “Bride and Groom Wedding Cake Toppers,” author Robert Reed writes about deals on wax toppers advertised in wholesale catalogs in 1924: “The catalog listing offered them as a couple, or in groups of 100 for wedding favors.” Reed also comments on the significance of including cake toppers in the Sears 1927 mail order catalog, stating it included an entire page devoted to wedding cake ornaments.  This anecdote helps illustrate the significance of the toppers at that time.

Wedding cake toppers maintained dominance in the Unites States through the 1950s. The ornaments were a nonperishable piece of the cake that could be kept over years and passed down through families.  However, through the later half of the 20th century toppers declined in popularity, possibly by association of being “old-fashioned.”

Today, many couples continue to embrace the ceremony of a traditional wedding.  However, the modern bride is no longer expected to hold herself to the standards previously associated with weddings.  There is a transition happening, away from the traditional wedding formula, and toward weddings as a celebration of a couples’ individuality.  On track with this trend, cake toppers are becoming more reflective of a wedding’s decorative theme or specific reception style.

With this surge in non-traditional weddings, cake toppers are making a valiant comeback. Available now are toppers that reflect diversity in marriages including: multi-ethnic toppers, same-sex toppers, comical & humorous toppers and toppers that reflect a couples’ hobbies and interests.  Cake toppers are now outlets of self-expression, as opposed to simply being icons of togetherness.

Here at The Stamp & Coin place we’ve embraced the old and new versions of the wedding tradition.  Cake toppers are a wonderful keepsake from any type of wedding, and can make a great conversation piece or even a collectible.  We’d love to see any unique cake toppers you’ve come across, so please feel free to share!

By Clever Cupcakes from Montreal, Canada (Custom Wedding Cake Topper) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Clever Cupcakes from Montreal, Canada (Custom Wedding Cake Topper) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The World’s Fair | A History

The World’s Fair is a large public exhibition embedded in rich cultural tradition.  Originating in Paris with the industrial revolution, these grand expositions soon spread to continental Europe and the United Kingdom before making their mark across the world.  The grandfather fair, reverently referred to as the “Great Exhibition” was Prince Albert’s proposal to model regionally manufactured products in order to induce international trade and relations, buoy tourism and propagate art and design education.  The structure and ideology of this 1851 fair offered a clear precedent for the World’s Fair and it has continued to attract millions world-wide today.  The 2015 World’s Fair is being held in Milan, Italy.

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While culture sharing has always been and remains vital, the development of the World’s Fair can be distinguished in three Eras of characteristic evolution: Industrialization, Cultural Exchange and Nation Branding.

The Industrial Era, which lasted roughly from 1800 to 1938 focused heavily on trade and boasted technological inventions and industrial design in a rapidly advancing technological world.  Modern technologies were brought together from all over the world marking momentous occasions in historical information sharing.  Expositions such as the Philadelphia 1876 Centennial Exhibition with the debut of Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone and Chicago 1893 Fair presenting the early dishwasher became landmarks of advancement, procuring a progressive image of the World’s Fair.

During the Era of Cultural Exchange, beginning with New York’s 1939 World Fair, themed “Building a Better Tomorrow”, expositions took on diverging cultural themes, anticipating a bright future.  The focus of fairs became less about specific technologies and more about intercultural communication for the exchange and growth of innovation.  As cultural recognition and societal strength became of greater importance, the Era of Nation Branding began.

Countries began to use the World’s Fair as a platform to strengthen their national images through branding and architecture.  Great pavilions were erected and stand today as representations of great nations such as Japan, Canada, Finland and Spain.  Stunning architecture and nation branding required solid financial investment and thus, several nations shied away from hosting Expositions, fearing that the cost would outweigh the benefits.  The 2000 Dutch Exposition pavilion cost an approximate €35 million, but is thought to have brought in €350 million in turn for a thriving Dutch economy.

The World’s Fair has seen much evolution over the course of two hundred years and today embodies the characteristic of all three Eras.  Each fair presents the newest technologies including art and architecture while fostering cultural networking and bolstering a reputably positive national image. One of the few lasting, globally impacting traditions of our Earth, the World’s Fair is a magnificent opportunity for individuals, communities, cultures and societies to reach out as a part of an ever-evolving humanity.