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Blog > October Writing Prompt: A superstition from your region

The writing prompts are an ongoing experiment that invites postcrossers to write about a different topic on their postcard’s messages every month. These are just suggestions though — if you already know what you want to write about, or the recipient gives you some pointers, that’s great too!

With Halloween just around the corner, this seemed like a good suggestion from ColorfulCourtney:

In October, write about a superstition from your region or area.

Not being overly superstitious myself, I confess I had to do a bit of research about the topic but found out something interesting in the process! The typical houses in the south of Portugal are white, with a colorful band around the windows and doors, traditionally in yellow or blue but often found in other colors as well. Like this photo from the nearby town of Castro Marim:

housesalgarve

Turns out, that colorful band of color is said to be there to ward off bad spirits from entering the house! The buildings are also often whitewashed with a lime solution every year, and supposedly this task must be carried out by women for maximum efficiency in its “protectiveness” … 🤔

These might seem like silly superstitions, but since the majority of old houses here are still whitewashed and have colorful bands, a lot of people sure used to believe in it! 😅 What about your area? Are there any superstitions that are unique to your region or maybe country? Let others know about them on the postcards you send this month!

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42 comments so far

ned44440, Ireland
Here in Ireland some people still believe that the sound of the Banshee heralds a death in the family - not a very pleasant superstition, I'm afraid. It comes from the term Bean (woman) sídhe (fairy mound).
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madhe, Mexico
There a lot of histories about this 😼
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Alexinax, Italy
Non conosco superstizioni sulla mia città
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AmitxSahoo, India
People still believe that a black cat crossing the path is not good and can result in a bad time ahead.
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ALFAVIT, Russia
There is a pre-Easter custom in Russia: on Holy Thursday to apply the soot of the consecrated candle of the cross on the door jambs and above the windows too.
Custom, as you might guess, is not Christian. Many people, especially those who lived or were in the village, know the expression: "Do not climb into the windows!"
go to the door, climb into the window - a mess. The window is the entrance to the dwelling, but the entrance is wrong. The entrance to the house is its border. And any border is designated and, if necessary, protected. And they are protected from those who are "not shown an example", from evil spirit. In the pagan - from hostile forces, in particular - from navy, hostile dead people. From the souls of the dead. For example, violent death. Or dead from the forces of nature: drowned people, killed by lightning, etc.
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MrsBabl, United States of America
In Costa Rica, there are several stories about ghosts. “La Segua” is about a woman with a “beautiful voice that coos like a song from a serenade but that does not show the face she has of an infernal mare.” She appears to men that walk lonely roads, and that had drink too much, or showed signs of infidelity. They fall in love with her, but then she kills them with her lips, or they become catatonic and never talk again.
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JollyGinger, United States of America
Here in the US people believe black cats are bad luck. I do not believe this at all; both of my beloved cats are black. I adore them and spoil them.
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Whitelake, Russia
If you find yourself sitting between two people with the same name then you should make a wish — but don't tell anyone, otherwise it won't come true.
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Nana805, France
For Portugal houses, in fact, it’s believed also that painting the window on blue protects the house from flys and mosquitoes 😁
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Kadima, Germany
my mum always told me not to give knifes and scissors as a present, since they will cut the friendship. If you do so, despite this warning, be sure to get at least a penny in return from the receipent.
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Mosshumla, Sweden
Black cats are bad luck in Sweden too.
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allymarshall92, Ireland
Ever heard of a Changeling? A changeling child was believed to be a fairy child that had been left in place of a human child stolen by the fairies. In this fairy tale, it was often thought if a baby became suddenly sick or bad-tempered... the family would believe it was because it was swapped by a fairy... and would throw the baby down the well to "swap them back".
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Debashish31, India
In some parts of India, if someone sneezes when you are leaving the house, you are supposed to wait for a while before you leave to ward off the bad omen. A black cat crossing the street was considered a bad omen for many years but now with growing traffic on every street, you really never know which colored cat would have crossed which street
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freshwaterwi, Italy
In Italy 17 is the unlucky number, not 13 as in America. The explanation I have found is that 17 is XVII in Roman numerals, which can be changed to the anagram VIXI which is Latin for "I have lived", also understood to mean "I am dead". When I flew out of Venice, the lady at the desk changed my seat from row 17, because it was an unlucky number!
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Juju_Djabate, Russia
There is one very nice superstition in Russia. In spring, usually in may you can find a lilac blush. you can see one flower with 5 petals. than you should think about your dream and eat the flower immediately. that you can wait the realisation of your dream )
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V_N, Ukraine
🔮Knock on the wood
Ukrainians usually knock on wood in order to get rid of the evil eye. This superstition has reached such an absurdity that some people in Ukraine even knock on their head if there is no wood nearby. It was inherited from our ancestors. In ancient times people believed that if you touch the wooden surface, you touch the Christ, who was crucified on a wooden cross. Thus, asking for protection from evil forces. Why knock three times? Because three is a sacred number for Christians.

🔮 Never pass anything across the doorstep
When visiting a friend in Ukraine, you may face a superstition of never passing anything across the doorstep. It turns out that in ancient times, the ashes of their ancestors were buried under the doorstep of the house. The dwellers tried not to disturb them and refused passing anything through it. For the same reason, people are not allowed to sit on the doorstep.

🔮 Never give a watch as a present
Even today, in the 21st-century, such gifts as a watch are considered to be inappropriate in Ukraine. This superstition comes from China, where a gift in the form of a watch was an invitation to a funeral. Ukrainians, in turn, started to believe that the arrows of a watch refer to sharp objects, which are also undesirable to give as a present, and it is a sign for quarrels and mutual insults. But, if you happen to receive a watch, just provide the giver a coin – as if you bought the watch yourself.

🔮 Never eat from a knife
A lot of people in Ukraine consider that if you eat from the knife, you will become an angry person. The fact is that the knife has a sacred meaning. It was not only a tool of labour but also an instrument of protection. Such a strong magical object required a special treatment, otherwise, you could anger the spirits, which would make a person aggressive. Or you can just hurt yourself by accident.

🔮 Never spill the salt
The roots of this superstition go back to Ukrainian custom. In Kievan Rus, salt was considered a symbol of prosperity, not everyone could afford to buy it. Especially, respected guests were greeted with bread and salt. If the guest scattered the salt, it was considered a disrespect to the owners, which led to a quarrel between them. Nowadays the superstition has slightly changed. People say that, whoever spills the salt, will have a scandal with relatives or family members.

🔮 Never take the garbage out after sunset
This superstition is one of the most popular in Ukraine. It has two different explanations. The first says that if you take the garbage out after the sunset, you will be surrounded by bad rumours. Why should you get rid of something under the cloud of night? Meanwhile, the second concerns the spirits. If you have not managed to throw the garbage out before dark, the evil spirits will enter the house and stay overnight.

🔮 Have a sit before the journey
It was believed that home spirits are clinging to people, hindering on the way and trying to get a person back, so the journey will not be successful. Having a sit before the trip, they could be confused – as if no one is going anywhere. But, there is also a logical explanation to the superstition. As sometimes it is useful, before going out, to get your thoughts in order and then start the journey.

🔮 Never come back halfway
If you return home and enter the door, you cross the threshold – the boundary between the worlds. And if you come back without having fulfilled the plans, then supposedly you will not be lucky anymore. As you have turned off the road to the goal. But, if you have no other choice then come back, there is one more superstition: just look in the mirror and your initial energy will return to you.
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alison41, South Africa
Fascinating to read the stories above. And those poor black cats! I am amazed at how global the superstition is about black cats.
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olga_finn, Russia
I was born in Halloween. On the night of October 31 to November 1.
Once I met a young man who asked when was my birthday. I answered. He silently looked at me and went away. I tried to catch up with him and ask what happened. He said that I am a witch)) and better to stay away from me.
In general, I have magical abilities, but I believe that the reason is in my positive thinking and performance.
I do not know superstition, but on my birthday it always rains anywhere in the world where I am going to celebrate.
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SELMA22, Algeria
Very good time in Tenes , Algeria , silence just some cats and people in the beach !!
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Flippie, Canada
I'm Dutch but live in Canada. I don't know so much about Superstition in Canada but in the Netherlands, if you spell sucker on the floor or on breakfast table, you got the whole day visitors at your door...!
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afrique, Congo
Here in Congo, Central Africa people speak of mermaid spirits (or "sirenes" in French) that inhabit the river; it is said they lure swimmers under the swift currents, and are never seen again.
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afrique, Congo
One more note about beliefs in Congo: it is widely believed that ancestor spirits roam among the living and that family members join the ancestral world after passing on, to protect the loved ones that remain. Often, these spirits are seen in daily life (in towns, markets, bus stops) and make themselves known to the living, to reinforce that they are protected.
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kallini2042, Canada
All these superstitions are lovely, but can't compete with what cannot be expressed in words. Did you know that pigeons have their superstitions as well? Technically, they do not have superstitions "as well", it was discovered how superstitions are created in the first place. Once you know it, you are freed from all your lovely traditions. I was born on the day of Halloween as well. When I came to Canada and saw nothing but skulls on my birthday, I did not like it. Now I got used to it and say that everything - all stores and such - is decorated just for me. If I have nothing planned, just walking around the neighborhood is entertainment in itself. Adult parties are fun too. As far as being a with, yes, I'm one. I managed to get a certificate and a free broom together with broom-driving license.
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beckhar, United Kingdom
Northern Ireland here. We share a lot of Irish superstitions. One superstition is about fairy thorns, which is a lone hawthorn or blackthorn tree in a field and is said to house fairies. If someone harms or removed said tree, the fairies will curse the person with bad luck. I know someone who removed a fairy thorn, and they had a string of bad luck afterwards - I know it's coincidence but you can see how folk tales and superstitions carry on when things like this happen.
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AnnitaV, Spain
In my village, we still put a special plant on the main door of the house, to scare the witches, but it is a tradition, not superstition.
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RassDim, Russia
When I forgot something and returned home, I always look in the mirror before re-leaving the house, but not because I believe that the way will be unsuccessful, we just have a mirror in the elevator )
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Melitzen, United States of America
--When I was a teenager in 1970s Houston, if we drove over a train track we'd lift both of our feet and touch both hands to the ceiling of the car. I think it was supposed to ensure our never getting struck by a train.
--3 on a match was considered bad luck.
--My Southern Auntie says "Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit" on the first day of each month to bring luck.
--I had a friend who, without fail, would take the first step onto a plane with his left foot whilst tapping above the door with his right hand.
--Finally, leave a tails up penny on the ground. Only heads up brings luck. Or so they say...
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Melitzen, United States of America
P.S.
I love reading these!
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Debashish31, India
Loving these ones. Was born on 31st and only when 24 on a trip to the Uak did learn about Halloween so clearly no superstitions related to the day that I have come across. 2 interesting things happened on my 10th and 20th birthdays though but nothing after but the 1st two left me uncertain for sure. On my 10th, the Indian prime minister was assassinated on that day and you can imagine how a 10 year old feels when not even a cake is cut and the family is in gloom because of something I didn't even understand then. On my 20th, during my college days on my birthday, we had just settled down for a drink with friends and were told that one of our seniors who had ventured out in the sea earlier that day had drowned. Not only did the party got dropped, we stayed awake all night for his body to arrive and all. Nothing else happened on my birthday's but I was spooked for sure
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balllin, China
There are many superstitions in China.
1. People believe,when your left eyelid flutter, it means that you will get wealth.When your right eyelids tremble, you will suffer disaster.
2.July of the Chinese lunar calendar fifteen, It's a traditional festival called "Zhongyuan Festival"(中元节).People believe that ghosts are wandering in the streets in the evening.So on this night, most people do not go out.
3.On China,people think that our ancestors will bless them, so we hold ceremonies at major festivals to commemorate our ancestors.

Still have many interesting things in China, my English is not very well, please forgive me.:)
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Sandypandy, South Africa
Here if you stand under a ladder you will have loads of bad luck.
Weird
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vlada_123, Russia
In our region believe that if a black cat crosses my path, something bad and need to wait for trouble. And if the bird flew past and hit the window of the house-too bad, leads to misfortune. And if you find yourself between two people with the same names - you need to make a wish, but no one can talk about it, and it will not come true. And if the eye got a eyelash - you need to pull it out and make a wish! Then reset the eyelash on the ground, so the desire will come true. In the old days, the ancestors believed in Baba Yaga-an evil woman flying in a mortar with a broom. In fairy tales Baba Yaga steals children and eat them. Still believed in Water-the monster living in bogs and lakes. Believed that it is impossible in the night to lie down by the water one - the Water will drown you.
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justicepirate, United States of America
We have the Jersey Devil here in New Jersey! He's a strange looking creature that hangs out in various towns and is said to look like a devil of sorts. It is why we have the hockey team NJ Devils. There are more things about him, but it would take a while to explain. Definitely something to look into!
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FatimaIgnacio, Brazil
I grew up among some superstitions but over time I was considering that they existed to impose healthy living habits. I still live with some but not exaggerated or limit me. I recognize some funny ones like the one who says that dreaming about eggs is going to get involved in gossip. Exclude that of the black cat that also exists in Brazil for being absurd. Black cats are also beautiful and very dear. At my age, my biggest superstition is to thank for life and be grateful.
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Loli-ts, Spain
We have the classical ones (don't walk under a ladder, don't spill the salt, dont' broke a mirror, 13 people on a table, evil eye...); but I especially remember what my mother uses to say: don't let open scissors on the table!! Also on the old times, nuns used to embroid "escapularios" (small cushions) to pin on babies clothes to protect them from evil eye (I had one of them when I was a child).
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Phibatola, Greece
In Greece it is the blue that wards off evil eyes and spirits. that is why its typical for buildings on the islands to be white and blue . So similar to Portugal in that respect.
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loving6thgrade, United States of America
Each October when I was a teacher, we read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain. It was filled with superstitions. The students were asked to contribute superstitions they had heard in their family. These are some:

Bad luck: walking under a ladder, black cats crossing your path, breaking a mirror, rocking an empty rocking chair , opening an umbrella inside, laying a hat on a bed, groom seeing bride on wedding day before ceremony

Good luck: ladybugs, four-leaf clovers, rabbit's feet , horse shoes hanging right side up over a door ,eating Black-eyed peas on New Years Day

Others:
-Don't sweep at night or you'll sweep someone out of the family.
-"If you sing before breakfast, you'll cry before dinner"
-Put a knife under the pillow of a woman in labor to cut the pain
-if your palm itches, you're going to get money
-if your nose itches, someone will visit you
-if your ear itches, someone is talking about you
-eating cabbage on New Years brings prosperity
-Don't use one match to light three things
-If a bird flies into a window, someone will die
-always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder to avoid bad luck
- a bride should wear "something old, something,new, something borrowed, something blue"
-always leave by the same door you entered
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elanj123, United States of America
If you break a mirror seven years of bad luck here. I've broken 2 already.
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Youhavemails, India
This is an amazing monthly suggestion!:)
So, when i was in school, my friend passed on me a superstition which revolves around spotting a myna.It goes in the form of this poem.
1 for sorrow
2 for joy
3 for a girl
4 for a boy
5 for a letter
6 for gold
7 for a secret that's never been told!

And if after spotting the myna you see a crow, the effect cancels out.

Well, as a kid, we spent hours over this..haha

i am amazed to see how certain superstitions are familiar.like broken mirror, black cat

Then there are others...

1.if someone asks for the salt container, never to pass the it directly from your hand to other's hand.otherwise you'll quarrel.

2.Never leave the scissors open, will cause a fight.

3.Eat curd-sugar before something important, its auspicious!

4.Dont eat food in chipped/broken vessels, it'll bring poverty.

5.After making chappatis(an indian bread), leave a bit of dough on the gas stattion, so that no one gets to eat the 'last' bread.(i don't know why)....probably one believes that eating the last chappati signifies that you are late for everything and miss the bus!

6.Seemingly spit(not actually) by saying 'thu-thu' on the person to ward off evil spirits.its called 'Nazar Utaarna'.

7.Don't sleep under Peepal, tamarind or Neem tree, esp at night.Ghosts and spirits reside in them.

8.Wear Kohl, it wards off bad eyes.

9.Don't touch pickles when menstruating, it will go bad.(this is for girls only)

10.Buildings/homes on which bats reside, make the inhabitants rich!

There are many more......Some are absurd, some are funny....but they keep life interesting...:):)

Thank you,
Have a good day.....Hope you find 2 for joys..haha

Warm Regards,
Shruti
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Polina75, Belarus
** Fallen spoons, forks and knives - to the guests. But all sorts of particulars about the dependence of the gender of the guest on whether the spoon or knife has fallen - these are later attempts to diversify and rethink the sign.
** Another thing: if your ears are burning or stuttering - it means that something bad is being said about you.
Words have magical power, and evil words have a special power. So powerful that the distance is not a hindrance: the curse will reach the address to which it is spoken. Your ears, taking the first blow of evil, turn red and your breath begins to interrupt - it will act residual influence of a distant curse.
** On Friday, the 13th, misfortunes happen, and a leap year is always harder than usual.
** If you are a bird scum - to the money.
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Darcey1, South Africa
Opening a umbrella inside
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Darcey1, South Africa
Does anyone else have it where you get bad if you stand under a ladder?
And Good luck if you find a 4 leafed clover?
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