Special Sub-Topic: A World of Superstition
|Walking under a ladder is not advisable. But if you do have to walk underneath one, how do you protect yourself from danger in Western Europe? |
by spitting on your shoes and not looking back until the saliva has dried. In ancient Egypt the ladder was a sacred symbol. The Death would use it to travel to heaven, while the gods would use it to descend on Earth. Walking underneath a ladder was therefore strictly forbidden. A more common sense explanation is that the ladder in combination with the ground and the wall forms a triangle, and the triangle is a symbol of danger (traffic signs that indicate a danger are always in the form of a triangle).
|In China opening an umbrella inside the house will lead to what?|
the death of a parent. When someone dies in China, the body will lie in state inside his/her home. The room where the dead body is kept, will be decorated with 'Pajons' (parasols). It is believed that by opening an umbrella (or a parasol) inside the house you invite death to your house.
|As a matter of common decency you don't normally put your shoes on a table, but why can't you do so in England?|
because it refers to hanging and is therefore not advisable. Back in the dark Middle Ages people were put to death by hanging. One would have a table (or a chair) pulled from under his/her feet during this process. Another explanation is that the table is in fact a sacred place because the food is served on there. By putting shoes (the lowest part of a person) on this sacred place you disgrace this place.
Another theory is that when there was a coal mine explosion in the north of England someone would call at the home of one of the dead miners carrying his shoes. He couldn 't bear to break the news of her husband 's death to the widow so he would place the shoes on the table as a message to her of the death.
|Is it a good idea to buy an authentic 'kris' (a traditional dagger) in Indonesia?|
n. The Indonesian 'kris' (a dagger) has mythical powers and is made with a specific goal. If you want to buy an authentic one you should have a special surgical reader ('doekoen') to be sure what its intended goal is. The kris needs to be treated with respect: it should be cleaned on 'malam djoemahat' (a Thursday night), and seven different kinds of flowers, some food and a drink need to be sacrificed.
|How should you pick up a needle in Asia?|
with the sharp end pointing away. Whenever you drop a sharp object (a needle, scissors or a knife) and pick it up with the sharp end pointing at yourself, it will lead to bad luck and possibly even death.
|What should you do when you meet a cross-eyed person in the United States?|
spit on the ground. The human saliva is believed to have special powers in all cultures. There is a little piece of the power of someone's soul in it.
|If you walk outside in the Netherlands and a bird does its business on your clothes it is supposed to bring good fortune.|
f. This superstitious belief is based on the habit of wearing new clothes at Easter. On Ash Wednesday (the Wednesday before Easter) the congregation would be showered with ashes as a result of which their clothes would be spoiled. Whoever would not be wearing new clothes on Easter Sunday (and apparently not take part in the ceremonies on Ash Wednesday) would get birds' excrement as a token of their disapproval.
|Why do people in Hungary hang garlic next to their back door?|
to keep the vampires away. Vampires are believed to stay away from garlic (and to die only if you put a wooden stake through their heart).
|On a hot and sunny day in Africa, would it be allowed to hide in the shade of another person?|
n. It is a grave insult to do so as the shade of a person is regarded as their soul. In some African cultures the shade of a person is believed to be the dark side of a soul and one should try to step on their own shade to chase away the bad influences.
|If, in one of the European Union countries, you drop a cent what should you do?|
whatever you wish, there are no superstitious believes associated with it. A tricky question. There is no superstition associated with dropping a cent. ;)
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