Scary superstitions and weird beliefs from around the world. Are you a superstitious person? Even though you don’t think you are, there are probably some superstitions and old wives tales that you believe.
The Man in the Middle
In Japan, some people believe that if you take a picture of three people, the one in the middle will die soon.
Three on a Mirror
If three people look into a mirror at the same time, one of them will die within the year.
Whistling at Night
In many Asian countries, it is believed that if you whistle at night, you will be visited by a snake or a ghost.
In Japan and Korea, if you write a person’s name in red ink, it means they will die soon. This is because when someone dies, his or her name is recorded in the family register and on funeral banners in red ink. It is believed that if the name of a living person is written in red, it attracts evil spirits. Also, in Japan, when your husband or wife dies, your name will be written in red on their tombstone, to signify that you will eventually be buried with them.
When someone dies, a bell is rung at the church. This is to ward off evil spirits, because it was believed that they were afraid of bells. However, if you hear a tolling bell and no one else hears it, that means someone you know will die before the week is over.
Death Comes in Threes
Many people believe that deaths always come in threes. If there is a death in the family, there will be two more within a short time.
Human beings have always been obsessed with the number 3. There was an old superstition that “bad things come in threes”.
If you hear three knocks in the middle of the night, it means someone in your family is dead. This is also known as The Death Knock.
Coins on the Eyes of the Dead
Years ago, it was believed that if a dead person’s eyes were open, it meant they were looking for someone to take with them. For this reason, coins were placed over the eyes of the dead to keep them closed. Another reason was the long held belief that a corpse needed money to pay their way into the next world.
In a Dead Man’s Eye
There was a wide-spread superstition that the retina of a murdered person’s eyes would, if photographed, give a picture of the last thing they saw. If they were murdered, their killer’s face would be imprinted on their eye. Sometimes, murderers would destroy the eyes of their victims for fear that their image might be recorded therein.
Mirror of the Dead
If there is a corpse in the house, all of the mirrors in house should be covered or the person who sees himself reflected in the mirror will be the next to die. (This may be why the killer covered all the mirrors in The Villisca Iowa Murder House.)
In China, mirrors must be hidden during a funeral, because the Chinese believe that if a person sees the reflection of the coffin, there will be a death in their family.
Mirror in Water
Dip a mirror into water and look into the glass. If your face is distorted, it means you are going to die. (This was a method of divination or fortune-telling used in Ancient Greece.)
Shivers Down Your Spine
If you shiver or a chill runs down your spine, it means that some one is walking over the place where your grave is going to be.
Step on a Crack
Everybody’s heard the rhyme: “Step on a crack, break your mother’s back. Step on a line, break your father’s spine.”
Some websites say this came from parents warning their children not to step on old wooden floorboards that weren’t properly nailed down. If you stepped on one side, it could send the other side flying up into the air and injure someone.
Other websites say it came from baseball, where many players believe it is bad luck to step on the foul line.
Most websites will try to tell you this superstition has a racist origin and the words were “Step on a crack and your mother will turn black”. However, this is nonsense and these websites simply don’t know what they are talking about and haven’t done their research. The real origin is this:
Many years ago, people considered it bad luck to step on cracks. There was a belief that cracks in the road or pavement led directly to a grave. It was also considered bad luck to walk on a grave. These superstitions came together and it was believed that stepping on a crack meant you were stepping on the grave of someone in your family. This evolved into a children’s game where, if you stepped on a crack, evil spirits or witches would emerge from the crack and seize you. Over the years, the evil spirits and witches were forgotten, but the superstition remained.
In the west, the Number 13 is unlucky. This fear is so widespread that many apartment buildings and hotels don’t have a 13th floor and some planes don’t have a 13th row. Historians say this probably stems from The Last Supper in the Bible, when there were 13 guests – Jesus and his 12 disciples.
In many Asian countries, the number 4 is unlucky because it is pronounced the same as the word for death (shi). The number 9 is also considered unlucky because it is sometimes pronounced the same as the word for suffering (ku).
Thirteen at Table
If thirteen people sit at a table, the last one who sits down will not die that year. However, the one who stands up first will not live through the year. To break the spell of thirteen at table, everyone should stand up at the same time. The “13 at a table” superstition may have its origin in The Last Supper where 13 people dined together (Jesus and his twelve disciples) and one (Jesus) died soon after.
Years ago, it was believed that it was dangerous to sleep with the moon shining on your face. If the moon shines in your face as you lie in bed at night, they say you will die within a year. A book from 1621 advises: “When thou goest to thy bed… draw close the curtaines to shut out the Moone-light, which is very offensive and hurtfull to the braine, especially to those that sleepe.” If you were careless enough to sleep under the glare of a full moon, you would risk going insane, going blind, or even being turned into a werewolf.
The full moon is said to bring on moods of rage and madness in some people. They call it The Lunar Effect or moon madness. People say, “When there’s a full moon, all the crazies come out!”
For hundreds of years, the moon has been associated with insanity. The word “lunatic” comes from the Latin “luna” which means “moon”. Moonstruck. Men are turned into werewolves when they see the full moon. Police sometimes claim there is more crime on a night when there is a full moon.
In Korea, the most popular superstition is Fan Death and it is surprising how many people believe in it. They say that if you go to sleep in a room with a fan on, you will die during the night.
There was an ancient belief that when the moon was red, it meant that the end of the world was nigh.
This belief may originate from a passage in the bible which says: “The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord”
In Japan, if a white butterfly enters your house and flies around you, it means you will die.
If a black cat crosses your path, it is bad luck.
Historians say this superstition may stem from the Middle Ages, when it was believed that witches could take the form of a black cat.
If you break a mirror, it means seven years bad luck. It could also mean that there will be a death in your family before the year is out.
In ancient Greece, people told their fortune by examining their reflection in a mirror.
Centuries ago, many cultures believed that a mirror could trap your soul. If the mirror was broken, it meant that your soul would be trapped inside forever.
Chewing Gum at Night
In Turkey, people believe that if you chew gum at night you are actually chewing the rotting decaying flesh of the dead.
Walking Under a Ladder
There is a very old belief that says walking under a ladder is bad luck.
An open stepladder forms a triangle, and triangles were once sacred and considered a symbol of life, so walking through that shape was considered descecrating it and tempting your fate. It is also thought that because it has three sides, the triangle symbolizes the Holy Trinity, and “breaking” it by entering the triangle is bad luck.
Others say that when Jesus was crucified, a ladder was leaning against the cross and the ladder became a symbol of wickedness, betrayal and death.
In England in the 1600s, criminals were forced to walk under a ladder on their way to the gallows.
Also, if you are walking under a ladder, someone is probably working above you and something could fall on your head.
Never Give a Clock as a Gift
When giving gifts in China, you should never give someone a clock. If you do, it means that they will die soon. This is due to the fact that in Chinese, the phrase “giving a clock” (送钟 – sòng zhōng) sounds similar to “bid farewell to someone on their deathbed” (送终 – sòng zhōng). By giving someone a clock, you are basically wishing them dead.
If you sneeze, your soul could escape from your body and your heart could stop. This is why people say “God bless you” when you manage to sneeze without dropping dead.
Three on a Match
If three people light their cigarettes with the same match, it means the third person will die.
This superstition is thought to have originated in the trenches of World War I. The thinking behind it was that if a sniper was watching in the darkness, he would have time to take aim and fire at the last person lighting their cigarette.
For many centuries, Horseshoes have been considered good luck and people believe that if you hang one on your front door, it will protect you from evil.
This is because people believed the devil had cloven hooves and that he couldn’t enter a house where a horseshoe was hanging over the door. It was also believed that witches were afraid of horses, so a horseshoe would scare them away.
If a dog howls twice, it means a man will die. If it howls three times, it means a woman will die.
This belief comes from ancient mythology. In Egypt, the god of the dead was named Anubis and he had the head of a jackal, so a dog howling meant it was calling souls for Anubis. In Ireland, there was a mythical pack of hounds who ran across the sky on a wild hunt, gathering the souls of the dead.
After leaving a funeral, you should not go straight home, because the ghost of the dead person could follow you.
When you are moving house, you have to do it on the right day. If you move on the wrong day, evil spirits could follow you to your new home.
You should never clip your toenails or fingernails at night because it means you will be visited by a ghost.
Never sleep with a mirror facing your bed, because mirrors can steal your soul while you are asleep.
Never leave your chopsticks sticking straight up in a bowl of rice. This is a symbol of death.