We all know that breaking a mirror, walking under a ladder, and watching a black cat cross the street supposedly bring years of bad luck, but did you know that you must pack a garlic clove in your suitcase unless you want your vacation to be doomed? Much like language, cuisine, and one-of-a-kind attractions, superstitions can vary from destination to destination and serve as a cultural window into the respective country. Here, we rounded up a few of the wackiest old wives' tales that had us doing a double take. Whether you rigorously follow the myths or pretend to play along, you can thank us for all that good fortune you'll inherit later.
Italy, China, and the U.S.: Numbers hold a lot of weight
In Italy, the number 17 is considered bad luck. Why? Its Roman numeral, XVII, can be rearranged to VIXI, which translates to “I have lived,” implying death. Many take this superstition so seriously that they’ll switch around travel plans to avoid hitting the road on that day. Similarly, the number four is deemed unlucky in China (the word for it in Cantonese sounds like the word for death) and the number 13 is thought to be a bad omen in the United States. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t see those numbers in plane rows or on hotel floors — it’s not a typo.
Russia: Take a moment of silence before traveling
You’ve painstakingly planned every second of your trip, packed your suitcase to the brim, and set your out of office message. The only thing left to do: pop a squat for a minute or two and quietly reflect. According to Russian lore, doing this before a journey — long or short, near or far — brings good fortune and a safe and successful trip. Not to mention, it also offers the opportunity to ensure you’ve packed everything you need. And while we’re on the topic of Russia, stay away from empty buckets when traveling through the country. Carrying or even laying eyes on one will bring no good. Oh, and don’t whistle while you’re inside a home (it’s bad luck) or gift your hostess a bouquet with an even number of stems (a dozen roses are reserved for the dead). And while you’re at it, avoid yellow buds at all costs — it represents infidelity and might just curse your relationship. Yikes.
Serbia: There’s no use in crying over spilled milk — or water
What’s the secret to having good luck? Pouring some H2O behind the person who is headed on a vacation or any other new venture — at least that’s the case in Serbia. The act is meant to represent effortless movement, which naturally translates into good fortune.
Bosnia: Add some flavor to your journey with garlic
Pack your passport, camera, and a garlic clove. Wait, what? Many folks in Bosnia believe that stashing away a pungent-scented bulb in your suitcase brings good luck (and helps you dodge any complications at border crossings). Smells like an odd idea.
Bulgaria: Skip sweeping after someone departs
No matter how untidy your abode gets after you leave for a trip, make sure no one sweeps up after you. As the legend goes in Bulgaria, using a broom or vacuum to clean up is considered a symbol of sweeping that person away, hindering a safe return. Consider this another excuse to avoid cleaning.
Italy, Ireland, Peru: There are plenty of lucky spots to go around
There’s an endless supply of landmarks that offer memorable photos with a side of good luck. Throw a coin over your left shoulder with your right hand into the Trevi Fountain in Rome, rub your forehead on the Intihuatana Stone in Peru if you want a peek into the spirit world, give the Blarney Stone in Ireland an upside-down kiss, and the list the goes on and on.
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