All cultures, all societies, all people through all time have had superstitions. Don’t walk under a ladder, a black cat crossing your path is bad luck, breaking a mirror means 7 years bad luck and so on. The Serbs are no different of course. Although it’s not a superstition by definition, but more of a wives tale, my favorite is “promaja”. A lot of the superstitions I have come across are based more on etiquette and social formalities than anything else. Looking someone in the eye when toasting is the biggest. Don’t you dare fail to meet a Serbs gaze if you are toasting and drinking with them, all kinds of smack will be talked about you, probably right there at the table if you don’t speak that language!
Here are some of the more popular Serb superstitions that I have come across. Feel free to add some more. I’m sure there are thousands. An interesting note, of the 15 superstitions on this list only 3 have a positive outcome. Quite the pessimistic bunch.
Some common Serbian superstitions:
- Hiccups are caused by people talking about you.
- If you whistle while in someone’s house (or your own), you will attract mice and rats.
- If you put on a t-shirt inside-out unwittingly, it means that someone is missing you.
- If you put on underwear inside-out by mistake, you’ll be followed by good luck.
- A loaf of bread must never be upside down, it brings misfortune.
- Leaving a bag or purse on the floor will cause you to lose money.
- Sitting at a corner-seat at of a table means you’ll remain single forever.
- Having long fingers means you’ll probably become a thief or that you’ll steal something.
- Having a v-shaped hairline on your forehead means you’ll be a widow (widow’s peak)
- If you bite your tongue or cheek by accident, your granny is planning to bake for you.
- Having your right palm itch means you will spend money soon, while having your left palm itch means you’ll be getting money soon
- Always look into someone’s eyes when clinking glasses, failure will result in 7 disastrous years in the bedroom.
- Never say “Ziveli” (Cheers) with something that isn’t alcohol, i.e. water.
- Always take a sip from the glass after toasting before putting the glass back on the table.