Origins

Travel Superstitions

Q.

Why are there so many superstitions around travelling? Which ones have deep historic roots?

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A.

With all of the mystery and unpredictability of travel, it is no wonder that it has attracted so many superstitions. Anything for an illusion of control. Many clutch their lucky talismans in ever-squishier planes, trains, and road-tripping automobiles. Others pave the way with pre-trip rituals.

Who knows when we will be able and eager to travel again? When the time comes, we will no doubt be more superstitious than ever.

Food and Drink, of course, figure prominently in ancient superstitions. Like adventurers of old, some say:

• Hide a fig near your front door to encourage your safe return.

• Pack a garlic clove or, if it’s a no edibles allowed trip, rub the inside of your suitcase with garlic to inspire safe travel from country to country. No word on how your travel mates and foreign friends will react to the pungency.

• According to a Serbian tradition, take a swig of water, then spill some behind you to pave the way for a smooth and prosperous trip.

• Nibble on edible seaweed to ensure safe travel by sea.

• Based on an old Brazilian superstition, hide some rock salt in the corner of your hotel room to ensure a happy, healthy trip.

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Non-edible Travel Superstitions include…

i. Don’t Look Back
It is said to be bad luck if you glance back at your home as you depart for a trip. If you do, your good luck will be stuck there until you return.

ii. Just Leave It Be
Don’t rush back home to retrieve a forgotten item. Bad luck.

iii. Wave Then Turn
The slow wave into the distance is also considered to be unlucky. You are supposed to wave goodbye then turn away. If you watch the other person leave, superstition says that it is more likely that you will not see them again.

iv. Right Foot First
Superstitious sailors – of which there are many – will warn people to step onto a boat with their right foot first. Left foot in is a no-no. The boat should also be hauled out of the ocean bow – not stern – first.

v. Not Just Any Dice
Did you happen to find a dice lying on the ground? Don’t pick it up if it’s showing four pips – bad luck. Did the world roll you a six? Lucky you. That could be unexpected money. And two pips? That’s a sign that you’ll soon embark on an exciting trip.

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vi. Keep Your Rats Closer
Here we have a hideous superstition that asserts that any rats that make their way onto the boat should be kept on the boat. If they leave, the boat is said to be more likely to sink.

vii. Casual Fridays
Some believe that one should never travel on a Friday, particularly not a Friday the 13th.

viii. The Trouble With Bridges
Never bid someone goodbye on a bridge if you want to see them again. Nor should you stop to chat with someone whilst under a bridge.

ix. Umbrella Dictates
While traveling, remember: don’t open your umbrella inside ever and outside if it’s not raining. Bad luck and impeding rain. If you drop your umbrella, whatever you do: don’t pick it up yourself. Selfish superstitions dictate that you find an ill-fated do-gooder to pick it up for you.

x. Knock Knock
As on the boat, visitors should step into others’ houses with their right feet first, unless they want to jeopardize the inhabitants. These visitors should also exit through the door they entered in order to avoid emptying the house of its luck. Slamming the door is said to bring bad luck to the slammer for the rest of the day.

www.justcurious.ca

Header Photo: Wolf Schram

Photo 2: Robin Benzrihem

Photo 3: Scott Umstattd

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Elizabeth Newton

Elizabeth Newton