HOW TO NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE: A Handbook of Russian Superstitions

Russian superstitions are strange, funny, and though they are well documented, the topic remains a favorite for satire. The explanation is very simple: there are a lot — a lot — of superstitions in Russia. So many actually, that one cannot delve through all of them in just one go. If a black cat crosses your path, your day will be filled with bad luck. Don’t offer someone an even number of flowers. Well, that is unless said person happens to be dead.

We bring you another compilation of Russian superstitions and the one universal solution on how to shoo away bad luck using wood, saliva, and a mirror.


N10Here are a few recommendations to take you through the most important stages of life. For no other reason than this: growing up is hard and you will need all the help you can get!

On marriage

A bride should never wear open-toe shoes at her wedding because all of her blessings will leak through the slit.

On having children

No gifts before the baby is born. Women should not cut their hair throughout the pregnancy, but nobody really knows why. Finally, complimenting newborn babies may put them in the spotlight of evil forces. Don’t do it. No one wants to harm an innocent child!

On life and death

It bodes well for a wedding party to encounter a funeral procession. Indeed who can argue that for new things to bloom, old things must die.


N8Spider and Bird Droppings

Though a black cat crossing your path is a bad omen in Russia, animals can also turn your day around for the better. Spiders for instance, these multi-legged frightful creatures, are believed to bring good news. Similarly, the unfortunate experience of receiving bird droppings turns out to bring good luck. So here’s to always looking at the positive side of things!






The Pursuit of Happiness

In Russia, breaking plates, cups and glasses supposedly bodes well for the future and brings happiness. There is a common wedding tradition requiring newlyweds to throw their champagne flutes over their shoulders after emptying them. Indeed, what wouldn’t you do for love?

Fortune Cookie Cutlery

Russians are a hospitable bunch. This is why they use cutlery to predict who will be stopping by for tea. If you drop a tablespoon to the floor, expect a female visitor. If you drop a knife, expect a male guest. See that’s how easy it is to be a fortune teller.


N1Don’t Forget!

If you leave the house hastily and find that you must come back for something you forgot, a mirror will come in handy. Turning back on your steps is a bad omen in Russia. If you absolutely must however, take a few seconds to stare at your reflection in the mirror and you’ll be off the hook!




N5Friendships are Important

There’s a saying in Russia: “Better to have a hundred friends than a hundred Roubles”. Indeed friendships are important, and to protect these bonds from evil forces, certain rules must be followed.

How NOT to say goodbye

Don’t say goodbye while standing on both sides of the threshold of a doorway, it will lead to an argument. The same will happen if you break a handhold by going around a lamppost from both sides. However, if the worst comes to worst , the relationship can still be saved if both parties say “hello for a 100 years” right after!

Lastly, if you step on a friend’s foot, they have to step on yours as well to prevent an argument.

Salty Sweet

If you inadvertently pour salt on the floor while cooking, expect a quarrel. But since you were already in the kitchen, you can just pour some sugar over it and thus restore your karmic peace. Another alternative, just draw a cross in the scattered salt.



One should never go to an exam wearing new clothes. One may never wash their hair the day before an exam. This would risk washing away all accumulated knowledge.


This one is a favorite in the Peterhof dormitories of Saint Petersburg State University. At midnight, on the night preceding important exams, one must open the window and scream ‘Halyava pridi’ (‘Come thee freebie’). In this way they summon knowledge back to them.

Disclaimer: success not guaranteed!



Abba sings: “Money money money! Must be funny! In the rich man’s world”, but Russian folklore offers concrete advice on how to manage your finances.

No Whistling

Whistling at night will bring one financial troubles and bad luck in general.

Poverty Purses

When you give someone a purse, make sure there is a coin inside. Unless of course it’s an ill-intended gift and you wish endless poverty upon that person.

Million Dollar Baby

On the bright side, there are also ways to know whether being rich is in the cards for you at all. Unintentionally wearing your clothes backwards is directly linked to your financial prospects.
Also, when someone you know sees right past you because of a new haircut, don’t take offense. It is actually great news because not being recognized by friends and family is also a sign of future riches.


N3Travelling is always a bit stressful. Packing, remembering your passport, and let’s face it, turbulence is scary! Russians have devised a verified technique to ensure that all goes smoothly on a long journey.

Sit Down!

After the hassle of packing is complete, right before you step outside and officially begin your trip, you must always — always — sit in silence for a few minutes. But don’t you worry too much if you forget to do it once or twice. Our colleague Valery, who almost never fails to accomplish the ritual says that you can still make it without doing this. Only it is never recommended to mess with in-flight safety!



Some of these superstitions are widely known and some were gathered interviewing people at random. Unfortunately, most are negative forebodings and perhaps that would explain why Russians are known to never smile. Who would want to smile when their day, friendships, nay, their whole lives are threatened on a daily basis?

But do not despair. We have uncovered a verified way to counter these evils. Olga, who studies International Affairs at SPBU knows a lot about superstitions. She believes in most of them and shared with us the “one universal solution” to turn one’s luck around when faced with misfortune. Either knock on wood to keep away from harm or spit three times over you left shoulder. ‘Better yet, do both, one can never be too sure!’

The piece was originally published in the November 2015 edition of 1Line.

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