Russian Superstitions: Bad Luck or Good Luck?

Friday the 13th and the number 13 are considered unlucky by many in Russia, where the number 13 is often referred to as the “devil’s dozen.” In addition to this, here are some of the most common superstitions travelers to Russia are likely to encounter.

Spilling salt on the dinner table is not good. People believe that it leads to a quarrel in a family and to cancel the hex you have to throw a pinch of salt above your left shoulder.

Not many people know the origins of that superstition – many years ago salt was extremely valuable, so spilling such a precious product could have easily lead to a quarrel among relatives.

Russians believe that shaking hands or kissing a guest across a doorway is a big no-no. In Russian folklore, the threshold is where the "house spirit" is believed to reside, and bridging this gap with a handshake is therefore extremely bad luck.

Instead, you should wait until completely entering a Russian home before shaking hands, or have the person inside the home come completely out before you greet them.

If you have left house and you realize that you forgot something you shouldn’t come back to take it because in this way you’ll chance the day that God has prepared for you. In case you really need to go back, as soon as you enter you must look at yourself in the mirror as a trick to deceive the evil sign.

In addition, the threshold of a house is believed to be a place of evil so you must not stand on it and at the same time you shouldn’t talk or hand anything across it.

Before embarking on any journey, superstition dictates that all members of the group should sit down in silence — even if not everyone is traveling.

This doesn't have to be for a long time, but it will ensure that the trip is a safe one. It's also a good opportunity to make sure you have everything you need for the journey.

Whistling indoors in Russia is considered bad luck and will lead to financial problems — or so superstition has it. Better to sing those annoying and catchy tunes on your way home then.

Stepping on someone’s foot. If a person accidentally steps on someone’s foot in Russia, it’s quite common for the person stepped on to lightly step onto the other’s foot.

This is because an unreturned step means that the two will have a fight in the future; returning the offense prevents the fight.

An unmarried girl should never to sit at the corner of a table or she will not marry for seven years. This superstition comes from the fact that in ancient Rus old maids and poor relatives sat at the corner, which was the humblest place at the table.

And you should never wish a Russian a "happy birthday" before his or her actual birthday because it's considered bad luck. In the same way, you should never celebrate your birthday before the actual day.

Many Russians don’t believe in these superstitions nowadays.

Above all, among young people they are just like a cultural heritage, but there are still people who will look at you in disapprovingly if you act in the wrong way in these situations.