Random Asides

Woo from around the world

Did you know that in Iceland people actually believe in elves? And in Korea, so many people believe that if you leave a fan on for too long it will suck the oxygen out of you, that fans are sold with timers so they can shut themselves off after you fall asleep? (I learned these tasty facts from deconversion.org.)

In Lithuania, people believe that it is bad luck to shake hands over a threshold, if a bird craps on your head or you step in shit you’re destined to become filthy rich, and if you whistle indoors you’ll attract “little devils.”

Anyone have any other international superstitions to share–just for fun?


Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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  1. In Poland they believe cold food and drink gives you a cold. It's especially dangerous for children. Cold soda, ice cream, cold milk, all very bad for your health. Better heat them up first…

  2. The elf thing is mostly marketing to attract tourists :) Yes there are old elvish superstitions and there are a few old ladies who claim to see elves but there's really nothing to it.

  3. There is an Eastern European Jewish superstition (I had to look this up to make sure it wasn't just a personal superstition of my grandmother's) that if someone is sewing a button onto a piece of clothing while you're wearing that piece of clothing, you have to chew on a piece of yarn. My grandmother's explanation was that if you didn't chew on the yarn, your intelligence would decrease.

  4. Just the other day I posted something about superstitions. Check it out – http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com/2007/09/10/superst

    In parts of England it is believed that a house leek placed on a roof will protect the building from lightning.

    As I am moving house soon I hope that people will wish me luck in the traditional German manner by giving me fresh bread and salt.

    You've heard of the "Bless you" given after you sneeze. Apparently the sneeze is supposedly driving the devil out and the blessing drives it away. I'm not sure where it comes from but I have heard that you should never thank someone for blessing you after you sneeze as it lets the devil back in.

  5. hoverFrog: Interesting about thanking people for the blessing. Maybe that explains why I'm a godless atheist. I always do that, so the Devil finds my body a comfy place to stay. ;)

  6. In virtually every bowling alley in the world, people believe that they can "steer" the ball with hand gestures even after it's halfway down the lane.

    Even I do it sometimes without even thinking about it. You can't help yourself…

  7. In Lithuania, does being crapped on by a bird whilst shaking hands over a threshold cancel out your bad luck? These questions must be answered!

  8. Iceland has the highest percentage of people who accept evolution of all countries in the world. U.S. is something like 32nd.

    Here's two superstition pet peeves of mine from right here in America, so common that even skeptical people here may harbor them: Airplane crashes happen in threes, and more accidents, crimes and acts of craziness happen on nights of the full moon.

    Nope, actually looking at the dates of these things over long periods of time show random scatterings.

    But elves are real.

  9. This is merely anecdotal, but I've noticed a tendency for the word "fornication" to be more prevalent in a church sermon anytime I sit in the front row with a short skirt and all breezy underneath.

    Remember however, that correlation does not equal causation.



  10. I don't know whether this is something peculiar to Australia, but I've never seen it anywhere else on my travels:

    There was a few years ago a big craze in which people were putting transparent plastic bottles full of water on their lawns, the theory being that this would somehow deter dogs (and maybe cats) from crapping in the vicinity.

    At one stage when visiting my folks on the Central Coast north of Sydney (a big middle-class suburban area with lots of lawns) I counted over a hundred houses in the vicinity that had succumbed to this nutty belief.

    The mechanism that I heard advanced for it was that dogs would supposedly not crap near fresh water. It was not explained how the dogs would know what was in a sealed plastic bottle, nor if there was any evidence that dogs didn't crap near fresh water.

    I don't see it as much anymore, but there are people still doing it.

  11. In India, people hang limes and chillies in their houses to prevent people casting 'evil eye' on them. They also draw a black spot behind a person's ear when they are going to be in front of a lot of people (and therefore succeptible to evil eye), also to ward it away.

  12. JanieBelle wrote:

    This is merely anecdotal, but I’ve noticed a tendency for the word “fornication” to be more prevalent in a church sermon anytime I sit in the front row with a short skirt and all breezy underneath.

    What the hell were you doing in church in the first place :twisted:

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