15 Superstitions From Around The World That Some People Still Believe In

List Rules

Vote up the superstitions you find most appealing.

Superstitions are an essential part of many cultures and, indeed, can often help to create a sense of national cohesion, particularly in expatriate or immigrant communities. Of course, many superstitions defy rationality or logic and, from an outsider’s perspective, can sound especially strange. 

While many of these beliefs - such as the idea of 13 being an unlucky number or the many beliefs associated with sailors - have become commonly known, others are more arcane. In fact, the users of Reddit have identified numerous superstitious beliefs that persist in many countries, demonstrating just how enduring and persistent such ideas are, even when they appear old-fashioned to the young.

  • From Redditor u/Cillian_Brouder:

    Don't f*ck with fairy forts. They're remains of ancient hillforts and ringforts, but people believed that they were forts that fairies built and lived in. There's a superstition that if you knock down a fairy fort, bad luck will come upon you, and it's not uncommon for builders to refuse to work on a site with a fairy fort out of fear of the superstition.

    Editor’s Note: The places known as fairy forts are scattered throughout Ireland. They usually appear as a raised circle, typically surrounded by trees, and are especially associated with the whitethorn tree. 

    Though they are associated with supernatural beings, it is believed they are actually sites where clans or families once had homesteads. The original buildings have long since rotted away, but the raised mounds remain.

  • From Redditor u/LoveAGlassOfWine:

    We keep ravens at the Tower of London because there's a myth that if the ravens go, Britain will fall.

    Editor’s Note: Ravens have been kept at the Tower of London since at least the time of Charles II. Though his astronomer wished for the birds to be removed, the king was advised doing so would lead to disaster for the kingdom, and so the birds have remained there ever since. 

    They even have their wings clipped to ensure they do not escape (though some have still managed to do so).

  • In Greece, Bad Luck Is Believed To Stem From The 'Evil Eye'
    Photo: Guruharsha / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0

    From Redditor u/ElonTheRocketEngine:

    In Greece it is a common superstition (mostly with older people) when stuff is going bad for you with luck or you either feel weird (as in tired, not in a mood or feel some pain somewhere), that someone has given you the “evil eye,” maybe because they saw you and were jealous or just have hatred for you or whatever, and you call someone who knows how to undo the "matiasma" (evil eye-ing) which is usually a grandma, uncle, etc.

    Editor's Note: The belief in the “evil eye” is a common one - not only in Greece but also in several other countries. It has deep roots in both Middle Eastern and European cultures, and charms designed to ward against it were developed as early as the sixth century BCE. 

  • Gnomes Are Believed To Enchant You In Finland
    Photo: Trogain / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0

    From Redditor u/jukranpuju:

    If you go to the forest, even on familiar grounds near your home, and don't pay constant attention where you go, the maahinen gnomes may enchant you and you get lost, which is called metsänpeitto - "forest's cover."

    You are not able to recognize familiar rocks and trees you'd normally remember because you've passed them by many times earlier, you might even get paralyzed. You also become invisible for the people who might try to search you or you might look like a part of nature so they don't recognize you.

    Editor’s Note: Gnomes are important beings in the various Scandinavian countries, including Finland. They are typically described as little old men, a depiction that has made its way into most contemporary representations of these beings. 

    Though rarely outright malicious, as the Redditor’s comment suggests, they can be mischievous, particularly if they are irked by human activity.

  • Magpies Are Seen As Omens In Ireland
    Photo: Richard Crossley / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0

    From Redditor u/a_reasonable_thought:

    All the weird superstitions around Magpies

    All that "one for sorrow, two for joy..." type stuff.

    I'm not sure people really believe in any of it, but it always gets a mention whenever Magpies are seen.

    Editor’s Note: Magpies are a frequent sight in many European countries, including Ireland, where seeing them can signify various things. To see one, for example, suggests one will experience sorrow, while two will be for joy. 

    In some iterations of the superstition, it is possible to avert bad luck by saluting the bird in question.

  • Never Wish A German Happy Birthday Before The Day Itself
    Photo: Isravel Isra99 / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0

    From Redditor u/Rudomekato:

    I don't know if it's just Austria and not all people do it but: Don't celebrate your birthday before your actual birthday or else it will bring bad luck (at least that's what my grandmother says). It's because of the even slightest chance of dying before you get older.

    From Redditor u/NowoTone:

    That's the same in Germany. People got really annoyed when my British wife congratulated them before their birthday. My sister-in-law even celebrated a birthday the weekend before her birthday once. People were really shocked when we told them.

    Editor’s Note: Though it is common to celebrate a person’s birthday throughout the actual day itself, it is in fact considered very bad luck, a whole year’s worth, to wish Germans happy birthday before the date arrives.