Ask anybody if they are superstitious, and most of them aren’t happy to admit they are. Yet across the world, different cultures do have their own set of old wives’ tales, superstitions, myths, beliefs, whatever you want to call it, that are older than time itself! Some of them seem to even be universal and cut across cultures. The most common among them being the Friday 13th myth as well as the tales around the black cat, which just about everyone knows about!
I will readily put my hands up and admit to being moderately superstitious.
For instance, I refuse to walk under ladders. I also do the ‘touch wood’ or (‘knock on wood’ for the Americans) thing a lot. I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who subscribes to these beliefs; because I see them do little things in their daily lives that suggest they are superstitious.
For the Benefit of Those Who Don’t Know, What Exactly are Superstitions?
Here’s how various dictionaries define superstition:
A widely held but unjustified belief in supernatural causation leading to certain consequences of an action or event, or a practice based on such a belief.
A belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation: an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God resulting from superstition.
An irrational belief that an object, action, or circumstance not logically related to a course of events influences its outcome
Some Superstitions from Botswana
The Hooting Of An Owl At Night puts many people on edge. I for one find the owl a rather odd looking bird with its huge eyes, anyway. Perhaps it is not surprising that the belief is that owls are very closely linked to witches and anything sinister that happens in the dead of night; never mind the owl is a nocturnal bird!
Choking on Saliva means you’ll eat a lot of meat
Treating others badly can lead to bad luck as the belief is that their hurt feelings cast a spell on the person who wronged them. This sort of ties in with idea of karma, because it’s believed that the wrong doer will subsequently get their just desserts.
An itchy ear canal means somewhere out there some people are saying nasty things about you., which is not dissimilar to the Western superstition that suggests that burning ears are an indication that people are talking about you.
Rain on your wedding day is seen as a good omen, as it means your union will be blessed. However, in some parts of Botswana it’s also believed that if the weather turns stormy, it can spell disaster for your marriage!
An itchy palm signals abundance, that you’ll receive money from somewhere.
When the upper part of your eye twitches, it means you’ll hear some good news. By contrast, if it’s the bottom part, you should expect some doom and gloom. It’s interesting because I’m always happy to go with the good news, but I choose to dismiss the bad news as just a myth!
Spilling salt can bring bad luck, unless you counteract it by throwing salt over your shoulder.
Wearing red during a thunderstorm is seriously discouraged because it can lead to you being struck by lightening.
Mirrors are not to be left uncovered during a thunderstorm, to guard against them breaking and subsequently bringing the owner bad luck. This one also to ties in with the Western belief also related to broken mirrors bringing bad luck.
These are just some of the myths we have up and down Botswana; there are many others, but they can differ depending on the location. Do you have any common superstitions in your country that you’d like to share? Do you believe any of them?
Picture credit: Artotem