There are beliefs that particular events, rituals, actions and objects bring good or bad luck. Poland, like any other culture, has its own superstitions.
❋ Number 13 (numer 13, pechowa trzynastka)
In Poland many people are superstitious about the number 13, especially of Friday 13th. They believe that the best way to avoid bad luck is to stay at home and do nothing this day.
❋ Black cat crossing the street (czarny kot przechodzi przez ulicę)
If you see a black cat crossing your way you should stop and make three steps backwords. However, if you ignore this belief and go forward you can be unlucky.
❋ Avoiding the ladder (unikanie drabiny)
You can spot people trying to omit the ladder as they try to avoid passing under it, which might also bring bad luck during the rest of the day.
❋ Broken mirror (rozbite lustro)
If you break the mirror it probably brings you bad luck. Then you will be unhappy for seven years.
❋ Forgetting something (zapominanie czegoś)
If you happen to forget something from home and you must go back to retrieve it, you better sit down for a moment and count to ten.
❋ “knocking on the wood” (odpukać w drewno)
A widespread superstition in Poland is “knocking on wood”. If you want to succeed in something or are afraid of a sudden change of fortune, you could knock on wood to scare bad luck away.
❋ Do not put handbag on the floor (nie kładź torebki na podłodze)
If a woman puts her handbag on the floor, she will have no money.
❋ Hat on a bed (czapka/kapelusz na na łóżku)
Some people think that if you put a hat on a bed you will have bad luck.
❋ Left lega (lewa noga)
We shouldn’t start our day with left leg, because it brings us bad mood.
❋ A chimney-sweep (kominiarz)
When you see a chimney-sweep in the street, you have to grab your button (hopefully you have one at that particular moment – on your wardrobe, bag, etc). According to the saying, only by grabbing it, you will be guaranteed to have good luck.
❋ Rainbow (tęcza)
If you see a rainbow in the sky you should find the end of it, and then you will find a pan with plenty of coins. You can become rich.
❋ Red underwear (czerwona bielizna)
Students wear red underwear on traditionally ball which is organized a hundred days before final Matura exams (the ball is called studniówka, equivalent to prom), next they must wear it on the exam.
❋ Lucky objects ( obiekty przynoszące szczęście)
People also believe of the magic power of lucky objects such as horse shoes, elephants with raise trunk or a four-leaf clover. Many superstitious people wear talismans, carry lucky stones to chose away evil spirits. Students often bring their lucky pens or favorite toys to exams and brides wear something blue, new, old and borrowed from happily married women for the weeding ceremony.
❋ Thumbs (kciuki)
When you want something to really happen and you really have hopes for it, you should keep your fingers crossed
❋ Spilling the salt (rozsypanie soli)
As for the spilling salt superstition, known of bringing quarrels, it has its own history, that dates back to Middle Ages when salt was very expensive. Only the richest could afford to buy this rare spice. You can imagine a huge quarrel when a servant spilt it. This is why people remembered salt spilling as a bringer of a bad luck.
❋ Wedding superstitions (przesądy ślubne)
There are some Polish superstitions related to weddings. First of all, it is good if the wedding is in a month that has the letter “R” in its name while it is considered bad luck to have it in May (although my husband and I got married in May and we are really happy!). Secondly, the day before the wedding the bride should put her shoes on the window sill to have nice weather for the next day. The bride’s bouquet should not have roses in it since sharp spikes symbolize a cut on the heart (ha ha…! Mine had maroon roses and maroon calla lilies in it…I guess I’m not really superstitious). It is also important not to be seen by your future husband in a gown and also not to look at your reflection in the mirror when you are completely dressed. What is more, there should be money in the bride’s shoes to assure wealth. And here is a little tip: if you want to rule in your upcoming marriage throw delicately a patch of your dress on the groom’s shoes while kissing in front of the altar. At that moment you will gain the power of deciding!
❋ Holiday superstitions (przesądy świąteczne)
For example Christmas: it is believed that if the first person to enter a house on a Christmas Eve is a woman, it is a bad omen, thus is it more preferable when a man is the first to cross the threshold of the house. During supper on Christmas Eve, each dish has to be sampled. A traditional meal consists of twelve dishes. The more you eat, the more pleasure will await you in the upcoming year.
Superstitions are still present among Polish people. There is something funny about them and mysterious at the same time. Although, to contemporary, well-educated people the word “superstition” can sound offensive and ridiculous, somewhere inside we believe in them. There is an anecdote that even Albert Einstein had a horseshoe nailed above his door. Somebody asked him, “You, man of education and a physics genius believe in this superstition?” To which he replied, “No, but apparently it works even if you don’t believe it”.
Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)