People believe in God and in themselves, in their family and friends. But there are also other beliefs … beliefs in supernatural causality. These are superstitions. The word is of Latin origin and it derives from the two words “super” (over) and “stare” (to stand). All nations have their own superstitions but I really have fun every time when I read about these of Southern European countries, Italy and Spain in particular. And here is why. 🙂
One of the most common superstitions is that related to 13. We know the numeral doesn’t bring luck, just on the opposite. And when it’s “combined” with Friday, it’s even more dangerous. Then people get scared. They think the end of the world would come. But it’s not like this for the Italians. Their “unlucky” numeral is 17 and it has its explanation. The secret is hidden in the Roman numerals. The Arabic numeral “17” is written down as “XVII” in Roman digits. But if you change their place like this “VIXI”, it will mean something else. In the past it was embedded in tombs and it meant “I lived”. That’s why today’s Italians are of the opinion that 17 “tempts” death. So, forget about 13 while you’re in Italy and be extremely careful on the 17th day of the month.
Wait! Don’t forget about 13 entirely because the Italians have one superstition related to this numeral. Thirteen people shouldn’t stay at one and the same table. Why? It comes from the Biblical narrative about the Last Supper and Judas who was the last to sit.
Another common belief is a cat and particularly, a black one. No worries. It’s not such a dangerous creature in Spain because Spanish cats have only 7 lives (not like other European cats that have 9 lives) and they cannot harm you at all during their existence on Earth, even when they cross your way. Spanish black cats get older sooner and are different from their brothers and sisters in the rest of Europe.
If Spanish cats have 7 lives,7 is dedicated to another thing, i.e. 7 unlucky years at sex (sorry, at making love 🙂 ). What do I mean? When you say “Cheers” to someone, you should not cross arms over the table. When you toast, you must look your partner in the eyes and the most important thing is to take a sip before you put the glass back on the table. Otherwise …. otherwise, you will be unlucky, as I mentioned above, for whole 7 years. After this whole chastity, finally you might want to get divorced. Hmmm … Speaking about divorces, the Spaniards think that bestowing scissors or a knife could lead to a divorce. Soooo …. When it comes to a divorce, a less painful way of getting divorced is to make that gift instead of the “Italian seven years” :-).
How to prevent yourselves from devils, magical spells or a whammy in Italy and Spain? Well, easily is the answer. When you are in Spain, don’t put your hat on the bed because there was a widely-spread belief in the past according to which devils lived in people’s hair and thus they could easily jump into your bed if you left a hat there. But if you happen to do it, no worries, there will be a way to get rid of devils. Namely, you should place thousands of pots of cacti near your window as devils ”are afraid” of them. If you are in Italy and if you want to avoid “malocchio”, just use your hand in the following way: constrict your middle and ring fingers with your thumb thus forming “horns” with your index and little fingers. Direct the horns over your shoulders so that they are directed towards the ground. The gesture is a little bit impolite but it will protect you from ill-intentioned people. Being on the topic of devils, I will give you a humble piece of advice. Don’t bestow yellow clothes to your friends since yellow is the colour of devil, respectively.
I will end up this with several other superstitions that go like this. When you are in Italy, don’t place a photo of your beloved one on your bed as it brings bad luck. When you walk with a friend of yours and you reach a streetlamp, both of you ought to go together on the same side of the lamp. Otherwise, people from Southern Italy and especially from Sicily think this will ruin your precious friendship. If two persons say accidently one and the same thing at the same time, they should touch their noses immediately. If you are still a student, don’t go to visit the Tower of Pisa as you will never graduate (Believe me, I have no reasonable explanation for that).
I really promise you to end this post in a very positive way in this last paragraph. We shall get to know how to wish somebody success in three different languages. The Brits will wish you to break a leg. The Italians will tell you to go into the wolf’s mouth (in bocca al lupo). While the Spaniard will say: “mucha mierda”. Hmmmm … You should find out the translation by yourselves, it’s your homework … 🙂