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A Guide to Russian Superstition and Old Wives Tales in Russia

Updated on July 20, 2016

The growth of Russian Superstition

Old wives tales and Superstition in Russia

Superstitions exist everywhere in the world and whilst they may seem odd to us it’s worth noting that many similarities exist within various cultures. Russia has many unique as well as somewhat bizarre superstitions as well as old wives tales that may seem strange to other people. However some superstitions remain closely connected to those found throughout the rest-of-the-world and throughout all walks of life. Old wives tales continue to exist in Russia, these superstitions show no sign of abruptly ending – however superstitions remain likely to change or certainly over the years ahead.

Black Cat Crossing your Path

One superstition that’s shared between England and Russia remains that of a black-cat crossing your path. Funnily enough this happened to me today, so watch this space! However the black cat’s also known to become a protector in certain belief systems. Old and young and even beautiful Russian women believe this!

Meeting a Woman carrying two empty pails

Of course there’s always an argument that superstition has routes within religious dogma, and those unfortunately affected by religion appear to become those who need it the most. This remains the same all over the world. In Russia it’s considered bad luck to meet a woman carrying two empty pails. This superstition evolves from the act of collecting water. Old wives tales mention collecting water from local water sources. Perhaps this superstition exists as a portent of bad times ahead or times of scarcity. This remains especially important when considering the use of water to provide fertility to the land. Abundant crops would have ensured survival over the harsh Russian winter.

Top Russian Superstitions

Russian Superstitions and Comparisons

If you forget something from the house carry on regardless

If you leave the house and forget something it remains essential according to Russian superstition that you carry on your journey and not return back to the house. It’s like saying the journey must carry on no matter what. If it’s essential for you to return to the house you must look in a mirror three times once you have entered the house.

Spit over your Shoulder? Or knock on wood? Russian Superstitions...?

Similarly a tradition exists in England to knock on wood, this superstition also exists in Russia however it’s usual to knock on wood three times. Another example of this exists in Russia to spit over your left shoulder three times. Of course it’s not necessary to really spit - instead a sound gets made along with the gesture! This helps ward off bad-luck. Perhaps this old wives tale reminds you of the English tradition of throwing salt over the right shoulder.

Superstition in Russia old wives tales continues

If you’re pregnant in Russia then don't cut your hair or take up knitting

Pregnant woman should not cut their hair or take up knitting during pregnancy to help protect their child during pregnancy. The weakness of hair connects with a biblical message linked to Samson, although both scissors as well as knitting needles both exist as sharp, potentially dangerous objects

Don’t show newborn child to any people for 40 days

Only very close family of the newborn child should see the baby. Unknown people as well as the general public should not have the chance of viewing the new born. This superstition design exists as a way of protecting the child from negative energy conveyed by those people around the child.

Protection by pretend spitting the old wives tales way

Old wives tales in Russia often make use of this somewhat puzzling superstition. Spitting (in actual fact pretend spitting) helps offer a protective aura from any disease or sickness. Traditionally old women will greet a newborn child by offering protection in the form of dry spitting over the child. When speaking about an illness a person will display this superstition by taking the area affected in the hand and spitting it away, pretend spitting’s the rule with this old wives tale from Russia.

Russian Superstition are black cats included?

The black cat features in Russian Superstitions and old wives tales as it does in other countries throughout the world
The black cat features in Russian Superstitions and old wives tales as it does in other countries throughout the world

Top Russian Superstitions

The Pin gets used as a protection worn inside clothing from harmful negative curses

Wearing a basic pin inside clothing helps protect the wearer from harmful energy or curses. The pin gets attached inside a jacket or coat to help fend off the superstition.

Clothes worn inside out to protect you from harmful energy

Taking an item of clothing such as pants, socks or at-shirt and revering it helps give the wearer additional good luck. In England this rule remains applicable for socks that accidentally get put on inside out, rather than in the Russian purposeful charm.

Knives should never point to people when placed on the table

In Russia a simple superstition surrounding knives mixes with old wives tales from around the world. Knives should never point towards a person as this old wife tale would indicate this person would have an argument in the not-too-distant future.

Russia features many superstitions as well as old wives tales. The similarity appears to allow some of these superstitions to appear universally acceptable, while others appear very unique to Russia as a whole. The importance of superstition may relay on a heavy religious influence. Furthermore it’s understandable that old wives tales get passed down from generation-to-generation in a way to offer protection against want sometimes seems insurmountable odds.

Superstion Poll

Does superstition offer any real protection against threats?

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    • johndwilliams profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Essex England

      I agree to some extent - it really isn't rational to be afraid of a black cat without understanding why?

    • johndwilliams profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Essex England

      No worries glad you liked it!

      Think superstition is linked to religious tradition, as in centuries of exposure. Maybe this explains why Americns are not as deeply ingrained as Europe or Russia?

    • ibizarejser profile image 

      7 years ago from Denmark

      Superstition is common for people without education

    • MargaritaEden profile image


      8 years ago from Oregon

      I am glad Americans are not as superstitious as Russians, growing up in Russia superstition was a part of a daily routine for most non-christian Russians. Interesting article, thank you.

    • johndwilliams profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Essex England

      Thanks Rooskaya! Your words always fill me with hope - glad you liked the hub

    • Rooskaya profile image


      9 years ago from USA

      Excellent hub.I enjoy reading your hubs full of interesting information.Great Hubs.Keep up!!!! Voted up and marked as awesome.


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