If you're a mildly superstitious European, you're probably familiar with the perils of broken mirrors and the powers of a four-leafed clover. But what about bat bones, nuns and chimney sweeps? Čarna Jovanović advises you on how to avoid every possible misfortune and become truly lucky - with the help of a few old-fashioned superstitions...

Photo: Doris Ulmann/public domain
Beware: nuns can be dangerous!

Have you ever thought that you need just a little bit more luck? The situations when you use the expression, "if I'd just had more luck..." are very common. That's why we found this unique recipe just for you. It can be used in every situation: before an important exam, before a date with that awesome boy or girl, before your first day at university or a new job, or even if you need luck to catch the bus in time. Yes, you can use it all the time and our ancestors from all over Europe created it for us.

Let's start with preparing to going out. There are a few things you should bring with you. General belief is that a rabbit's foot brings good luck, as well as a four-leafed clover. But some Greek island folk also consider bat bones to be very lucky. These people carry a small bit of the bone in their pockets or purses with them wherever they go. The only problem is getting the bone -- ironically, it is supposed to be very bad luck to kill a bat. If you're going to an exam, it might be useful for you to know that it's quite popular for people in Poland to kick those who enter examination rooms and to blow on their fingers for luck. And finally - before going out, don't forget to knock on wood because that is what Russians and Serbs do when they want dispel evil.

The next step is choosing the time to leave the house. You should know that starting any activity on Friday the 13th is very bad sign everywhere but in Greece and in Spain, where Tuesday the 13th is unlucky. If you go out for the first time in the morning, it is very important to make sure you step with your right foot first: this is a sign of good luck according to old French beliefs. Also, make sure that someone spills some water after you. This is a tradition in Serbia, but you should pay attention because it can make the floor very slippery, and you might end up in hospital instead of the place where you want to be!

Photo: public domain
In Poland, chimney sweeps bring luck

And when you finally get into the street, it's very important to look out for who you meet first. Germans believe that meeting old women first thing in the morning or when you're going to an important event, means bad luck, whereas meeting young people means good luck. Anyone who walks between two old women early in the morning will have bad luck for the rest of the day. Superstitious Italians try to touch iron immediately after seeing a nun, in order to preserve their good fortune. They may mutter, "Your nun!" at the next person they see, thereby passing on the bad luck to someone else. And if a black cat crosses your path it's bad luck everywhere except in Britain, where it's a good sign. It is widely believed in Poland that if you see a chimney-sweep, you have to grab your button (hopefully you have one at that particular moment - on your clothes, bag, etc). According popular belief, it's only by doing so that you will be guaranteed good luck.

There are also a lot of things that could happen on your way to important places which might be signs. For example Germans think that if you somehow walk under a chicken roost, and a hen "lets loose" on you, it will bring you bad luck, but if a rooster then good luck. And walking under a ladder is considered bad luck, except in Russia where you can walk under as many ladders you like and there won't be any consequences.

Photo: Muhammad Mahdi Karim (licence)
Hmm, are you sure you'd like him to bring you luck?

When you luckily get where you want, there are also some traps. You shouldn't talk or shake hands in doorways. You should always completely enter the room before greeting someone or beginning a conversation. At least, that is what Russians say.

Although superstition might be defined as "a belief or practice resulting from ignorance [and] fear of the unknown," or even as "a notion maintained despite evidence to the contrary" (Merriam Webster Online Dictionary), it doesn't cost anything to try some of this advice. It's said that even Albert Einstein had a horseshoe nailed above his door. Somebody asked him, "You, a man of education and a physics genius, believe in this superstition?" To which he replied, "No, but apparently it works even if you don't believe it". So, just try it and maybe the good luck will come to you!

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