Beware of These Italian Superstitions

Halloween is usually associated with evil spirits, ghost stories and witchery. But, just because Halloween isn’t celebrated in Italy, that doesn’t mean that the Italians don’t believe in bad luck and superstitions.

In fact, the day to day lives and general culture of Italians is very heavily revolved around many different superstitions, some stranger than others.

The malocchio, or evil eye, is one of the oldest superstitions in Italy. This “curse” is very much a part of Calabrian tradition and isn’t taken lightly around these parts. In the past, we’ve written about the malocchio and what you can do to avoid it or what can be done to ward it off if you happen to fall victim to it. The malocchio is just one of many, and we mean many, superstitions that Italians believe in.

Here’s a look at some superstitions that Italians take very seriously.


Check your numbers.
In North America, the number 13 is an unlucky number, so much so that you’ll often find the 13th row omitted from airplane rows and many high-rise buildings don’t have a 13th floor. However, in Italy, it’s the number 17 that’s unlucky and when it falls on a Friday, watch out!

Even though the number 13 is lucky for Italians, when setting a table, never set a table with 13 people. It is considered a bad omen and is most likely linked to the idea that Jesus sat at a table with his 12 disciples and it was one of those 12 disciples, Judas, who eventually betrayed him.

Single Men and Ladies Beware.
So, you’ve made sure not to sit at a table with 13 place settings. Great! But wait, if you are single that doesn’t mean you are in the clear! If you eventually want to settle down and get marry at some point, you’ll want to avoid sitting at the corner of the table. Sounds ridiculous, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t want to take any chances.

Oh, and you’ll also want to keep your distance from any brooms. If some is sweeping up around you, be sure to get out of the way or lift your feet because if someone brushes your feet by accident, it means you won’t get married. Hmmm, I wonder if that’s why witches tend to be alone?


Don’t Spill That!
We’ve all heard the saying “Don’t cry over spilt milk”. Accidents happen, right? So don’t worry about it! But, in Italy there are a few things that you really want to avoid spilling – salt, oil and wine. It’s not completely a surprise, they are all essential and precious products to Italian cuisine.

If by any chance you should happen to spill one of these precious things, here’s what you need to do to keep that bad luck away! If you spill salt, toss some of it over your left shoulder whereas if you spill oil or wine, dab some behind each ear.

Let’s Make a Toast.
When getting together with Italians for a meal, it’s most likely that someone will want to make a toast or “brindisi”. When making a toast and/or cheering a toast there are some important things to remember. You should never make a toast with water as it’s considered bad luck. You should also never clink glasses that aren’t made of glass.

If you are using plastic cups, for example, “clink” by touching the backs of your hands or knuckles.
Oh, and don’t forget to always look the person in the eyes when cheering and be sure to take a sip of your drink before setting it back on the table. Forgetting to do these things will bring seven years of bad sex! Don’t believe it? Go ahead, give it a try!

Wait, What Day is it?!
You might want to rethink your plans depending on what day it is. Some of these superstitions change from region to region but here are a few I’ve come across over the years. Don’t get married on a Tuesday or a Friday. Since the days of the week are named after Roman gods, it is believed that weddings that take place on a Tuesday (named after Mars the God of War and Destruction) or Friday (named after Venus the God of Love as well as Desire) will be short-lived and unfinished.

Also, cutting your hair or toenails on a Friday is also considered bad luck. Although, I’ve also heard that cutting your toe nails on a Thursday is bad luck too, so proceed with caution on that one!

So, those are just a handful of the superstitions you’ll see people taking caution to daily here in Italy. What are some crazy Italian superstitions you’ve stumbled across on or been warned about? Head on over to our Facebook page and leave a comment. And if you haven’t already, don’t forget to give the page a thumbs-up!

Image Credits: popofatticus, Ralf Smallkaa