Dec 13, 2011

It's hard to be lucky in Russia!

If all Russia’s superstitions were true I think someone you knew would die almost every day, you would be constantly arguing and almost constantly afflicted by bad luck! We discussed some today and I decided to share some. It makes a change from the political musings which have come to dominate my blog.

I came across one yesterday evening. I left my mobile phone at my friend’s house and, having gone down five flights of stairs (the lift, which stops at the fourth and sixth floors conveniently skips the fifth) I remembered and faced the stairs again. When I got back to the flat, I wasn’t allowed to just take the phone and disappear into the night. If I did so, something terrible would surely happen. It was absolutely essential that I smiled in the mirror before leaving. I objected – I didn’t want to take my boots off (and going into a Russian home with shoes on is NELZYA – forbidden), and anyway, I’ve had to come back for forgotten things hundreds of times without smiling in a mirror, and disaster hasn’t struck yet. However, I wasn’t allowed to ‘risk it’ – a pocket mirror was found, I put on my broadest smile and headed out the door, ready for anything!

Another superstition related to coming and going is that you mustn’t greet or say goodbye to someone across the threshold of their home. That means you’re sure to argue. Spilling salt also guarantees an argument. There are plenty of money related beliefs. Whistling indoors is a no-no. It will lead to poverty. Leaving empty bottles on the table is also asking for trouble – you’ll be out of money. And after dark take care not to put money in someone’s hand. If an exchange is necessary, put the money down and let them pick it up. Something positive which may come from this is the little money tray in every shop. This means that when you receive coins and notes as change you can pick them up separately out of the tray, instead of struggling to put the coins into the coin section of your wallet while holding onto your notes and receipt, a challenge I’ve still not worked out how to deal with in England!

If you’re hoping to get married any time soon, you’d better not sit at the corner of a table. For 7 years you won’t find some to tie the knot with. If you are in a relationship, make sure you don’t give your other half an even number of flowers. Someone will surely die!

It’s a good idea for students to put their textbook under their pillow the night before an exam. Apparently information will just stream in to your brain. But be careful not to wash your hair in the morning – because you’ll wash it all out again!

On top of these, Russians also worry about lots of the things we worry about. If a black cat runs across the road in front of you, you’d better pull over and let someone else be the next person to drive past. The 13th is an unlucky day, especially in May. In fact, May is a generally unlucky month (even though that’s when they won the Great Patriotic War (WWII)), because it is part of the word mayatsya, to suffer. It’s not only bad luck to walk under a ladder – anything which leans against something else is better avoided.

And there are plenty more – enough to justify a whole website (in Russian). You might have noticed that there isn’t much good luck going round, but fear not! It can be found! Trolleybus tickets all have a chain of 6 numbers of them. If the first 3 numbers add up to the same amount as the second 3 then you have to eat your ticket and you’re sure to be lucky! It’s probably easier to find than a four leafed clover, but I’m yet to find my lucky ticket…


  1. Hi Ben!
    Hows it going out there? Managing to remember all these?
    Malc and I fly to Australia tomorrow evening- can't wait to be somewhere warm!
    Happy Christmas

  2. haha - you gonna be lucky enough to be home for christmas?