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13 Lesser-Known Bad Omens From Around The World

Updated June 14, 2017 30.3k views13 items

Ravens, broken mirrors, and walking under ladders. These three things are symbols of bad luck pretty much anywhere you look in the world, but many countries around the globe also have their own unique versions of bad omens. Some countries see specific birds as harbingers of death, while others see the particular placement of bread as a potentially devastating omen. Though countries vary wildly in what they see as heralds of doom, there's almost always a fascinating explanation. 

So why do superstitions exist? You've surely encountered several in your life, and they usually come from older people. Oftentimes, bad omens and superstitions relate to shady history - for example, cats are considered bad luck because they were seen as companions to witches during the early days of Puritans in America. Other bad omens and superstitions, however, are related to very sensible and logical pieces of history. Though mostly scary and kind of creepy, the omens in this list are totally fascinating, and they might even teach you a thing or two about how humans are and always have been. 

Photo:
  • Photo: Gunilla G / Flickr

    In Russia, Don't Sit At The Corner Of A Table If You Ever Want To Get Married

    Interestingly enough, there are relatively few omens that apply to a specific gender. In Russia, however, there's at least one. If an unmarried girl sits at the corner of a table, she'll stay unmarried for the rest of her life - or at least seven years, depending on who you hear it from. Some people of Russian descent believe the omen applies to young men as well, but in the popular sense, it's directed toward girls and women.

    Sitting at the head of the table's fine, though. Russia has plenty of other superstitions, such as not stepping over someone and not leaving your purse on the floor. 

  • Photo: DIVA007 / Flickr

    In Mexico, Owls Are Harbingers Of Death

    According to Mexican tradition, owls are bad luck. When you hear the call of the owl or see one in Mexico, it means death is near - either for you or for a loved one. There's a famous saying in Mexico relating to this: "Cuando el tecolote canta, el indio muere." Translated, this means “When the owl cries, the Indian dies.”

  • Germans Believe That Bats Basically Symbolize The Devil

    Maybe it's the bloodsucking, or maybe it's the terrifying wings and faces, but bats are a sign of bad luck in many countries. Germany seems to hold them as especially bad omens. There's an old German saying that claims the devil is after you if a bat flies into your house. Similarly, Slovinian tradition maintains that a bat in the attic means someone in your house will die soon. There are many worldwide variations of bats as omens - and they're pretty much all bad. 

  • Writing Your Name In Red Is Bad News In Korea

    If you write your name in red ink in Korea, it could mean you're destined to be a failure or that your death is imminent. This particular omen is rooted in Southeast Asian history. When Korea was a vassal state of China, the color red symbolized the emperor. According to Korean tradition, writing one's name in red was a luxury reserved for the Chinese emperor. Thus, it could be bad luck to associate with the emperor.