In this article we will show you some Italian superstitions that, as you know, Italians take very seriously. Many of these superstitions have to do with aspects of life such as marriage, wealth, but also a very human fear or phobia to aging and death –to the extent that Italians do not appreciate jokes about the last two and show the horn sign to ward themselves off. Learning the culture –and superstition are essential to this culture– will help us learn Italian.
ITALIAN WEDDING SUPERSTITIONS
These traditions and superstitions are very different depending on the region of Italy. Apparently, most of these superstitions go really strong in the South (Sicily, Naples, etc.), but Northerners are not more rational. Among them you can count:
- In Sicily, invitees sprinkle wine at the entrance of the newlyweds to symbolize prosperity and fertility.
- People from Puglia cut in two a white ribbon at the maternal family’s home, representing a fresh start for husband and wife.
- In Campania, the one to be groom goes the night before the weeding under his beloved bride’s balcony with friends, relatives and local artists to offer a romantic serenade full of words of love.
- Another Italian superstitions has to do with sweeps and feet: a girl aiming at finding a husband needs to be far from anyone who is sweeping the floor. If her feet touch dirt, dust or the brush itself, the marriage will not take place.
- Speaking of which, Northern superstitions regarding weddings are a little more earthly: in Veneto, the future mother-in-law hands down her sweep to the new wife to represent the wife’s ability to guarantee she’ll take good care of her husband.
- Grooms in such an industrial region as Lombardy will handle a pair of scissors and cut their tie to little pieces and find “buyers”, ensuring he is able to support the family he is giving a start.
- In Liguria, people say Sposa settembrina, sposa vedovina (a September bride is bound to become a widow), by which is understood September is by far the least popular month to schedule a wedding.
DON’T STARE AT ME LIKE THAT
Being an ancient superstition spread across the Mediterranean area, here we’ll give a few lines to the Italian malocchio (evil eye). Needless to say, we refer to malocchio as the action of giving an ugly look to a person who is unaware of not being very well liked by the one who is looking.
Evil eye can be warded off with special handsigns: the fig sign, consisting of thrusting the thumb between the index and middle fingers, and the horn sign, which is formed by stretching out the index and little fingers while folding the middle and ring fingers under the thumb’s tip.
Also, there are the cornetti, an amulet resembling slightly twisted little horns. This Italian horn (red horn from Naples) does not emulate the shape of sheep or goat horns; they’d rather look like a chili pepper.
OTHER ITALIAN SUPERSTITIONS
- Beware of number 17: While elsewhere in the world some the number 13, Fridays the 13th (in English-speaking countries) or Tuesdays the 13th (in Spain and Latin America) do not get much love, Italians dread number 17, especially when it falls on a Friday. Certain roads like the A17 expressway are named A14 or A17, while the Pirellone (a feature skyscraper in Milan) lacks a 17th floor.
- Shut that umbrella! For some reason that could be very plausible (for instance, trying not to pop anybody’s eye by opening umbrellas indoors), Italian will rather walk outside a shop to try umbrellas out or have them dry at a special type of furniture for such occasions. No matter if you’re walking back indoors from a blanket storm or the universal flood: umbrellas must not be open in the house.
- Beds are not hat racks: No, leaving a hat on your mattress is strongly discouraged as this does not only prove you are careless with clothing placement around the house, but also because leaving hats in the bed is associated to death.
- Better around than across: You shouldn’t walk through the space between stairs, staircases or scaffolds and a wall: it won’t take forever if you circumnavigate the area to prevent some undesired disgrace, including a bucket of water or paint coming down for your head or your favorite outfit.
- Lentils: The fastest track to prosperity and wealth? Do not forget to eat a bowl of lentils before the New Year arrives. And if you can do so barehanded, you could consider yourself more Italian than pasta.
- Run for your life if a cat is black: Same as the left side, cats are linked to the devil when they are black. Consider yourself done for good if one of these animals comes in your way.
- Always keep two Euro cents in your pockets and you will never go penniless (no pun intended).
Now it’s time to keep in mind all of these Italian superstitions when you visit Italy. Maybe you believe them or not, but remember to always be respectful about their belief and superstitions.
Now that you know all about the Italian superstitions, discover these 10 Italian flirting phrases you need to learn!