9 Bizarre Superstitions in Russian Culture You Wont Believe

Delve into the mysterious world of Russian folklore with this exploration of nine strange and intriguing superstitions. Discover how these beliefs weave into the fabric of everyday life and influence behaviors in surprising ways.

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A collection of nine distinct, bizarre cultural elements represented in symbolic forms, heavily influenced by Russian superstitions. Image number one is a latticework of intricate wood carvings depicting a mythical creature. Image two displays a pair of embroidered wraparound slippers placed iconically on a traditional patterned rug. Image three - a broken mirror with scattered shards. The fourth image is of a forest path covered in a thick mist, suggesting the presence of something supernatural. Image five portrays a spilled salt shaker on a dark wood table. Image six is a peculiar artwork of a black cat with striking green eyes crossing a cobblestone road at night. The seventh image shows an array of bird feathers arranged in a peculiar pattern. The eighth image is of an eerily lit up birch tree at midnight, representing a haunted location. The final image is a doorstep threshold highlighted in the scenery of an old cottage, indicating a superstition regarding entry and exits.

Introduction to Russian Superstitions

Russian culture is rich in customs and beliefs, many of which might seem peculiar or even outlandish to the uninitiated. Superstitions in Russia are more than mere folklore; they are interwoven into daily practices and are considered by many as a way to avoid bad luck or to beckon good fortune. This article unveils nine such beliefs that continue to baffle and fascinate.

1. Whistling Indoors: The Call of Poverty

In Russia, whistling while indoors is thought to summon misfortune, specifically financial ruin. The belief is that by whistling, one ‘blows away’ their wealth. Russians take this superstition seriously, and you’ll often be warned against whistling inside homes or businesses.

2. Sitting at the Corner of a Table: A Future of Spinsterhood

Sitting at the corner of the table, especially for young women, is said to curse one with spinsterhood or delayed marriage. This superstition often influences seating arrangements at gatherings and family events.

3. Knock on Wood: Thwarting the Evil Eye

Similar to Western cultures, knocking on wood is a common practice among Russians to prevent jinxing a positive situation or to ward off evil spirits. This act is often accompanied by spitting over one’s left shoulder.

4. Unlucky to Shake Hands Across a Threshold

Extending a handshake across the threshold of a doorway is considered bad luck. It is believed that this action leads to disagreements and conflicts. Instead, Russians prefer to step fully into a room or out of it before shaking hands.

5. Breaking a Mirror: Seven Years of Trouble

The superstition surrounding broken mirrors is global, and in Russia, it signifies seven years of impending misfortune. To circumvent this, some Russians believe in several rituals, like collecting the shards of glass and submerging them in running water for hours.

6. Empty Bottles on the Floor: A Sign of Economy

After a bout of consuming drinks, placing empty bottles on the floor is seen as a gesture that signifies frugality. It’s said to relate to old tavern practices where floor-placed bottles denoted cheaper service.

7. Encountering a Black Cat: Potential Misfortune

Crossing paths with a black cat is often viewed as a premonition of bad luck. Some Russians will choose to take a different route if a black cat crosses their path, though others believe that the superstition is nullified if the cat takes the initiative to walk away first.

8. Blue and Light Blue Ribbons: Protection from Misfortune

Blue and light blue ribbons are often tied to carriages, cribs, and children’s clothing as a charm to protect against misfortune. This color is associated with good health and calm in Russian lore.

9. Do Not Return for Forgotten Things: A Warning of Bad Travel

If a person forgets something at home and must return to retrieve it, it’s considered an omen of a bad journey. To counteract this, upon returning home, they must look in the mirror to ‘break’ the superstition.

Cultural Insights and Modern Practices

Although these superstitions may seem bizarre, they provide a valuable window into the cultural psyche of Russia. Many of these beliefs are observed out of tradition and respect for ancestors rather than genuine fear. However, for visitors and those not familiar with these practices, understanding them can be crucial to avoiding cultural faux pas.


Superstitions in Russian culture are fascinating reflections of history, religion, and folklore. These nine examples are but a small sample of the customs that color the rich tapestry of Russian life. Whether you believe in these superstitions or not, they remain an important part of understanding the intricate patterns that define Russian cultural identity.

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Avery Ingram

Avery Ingram


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