Do you carry a lucky charm? Wish upon stars? Even though we may know our superstitions are irrational, some myths and legends keep us engaging in certain habits time and time again. What you may not know is that there are quite a few superstitions specifically associated with traveling. Superstitions also vary culturally, which is important to keep in mind so you can adapt to your destination! Follow our suggestions to ensure that your travels not only exciting and fun but also filled with positive energy.
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
Once you’ve left the house, don’t return to get anything you’ve forgotten: just replace it at your destination. (Unless, of course, it’s your passport. Definitely go back and get that.) Planning your trip well and packing smart to avoid having to go back home to retrieve any forgotten items is good advice in general, but it is also the first step toward a trip filled with good fortune.
WHEN IN ROME…
As a savvy traveler, you’d be remiss to visit your destination without taking heed of local superstitions. Dreaming of a nest full of eggs is a good omen in Jamaica, meaning you will acquire great wealth. In the United States, the saying goes “Find a penny, pick it up and all day long you’ll have good luck”. Some superstitions can be dangerous: in Mexico it is believed that sleeping with scissors under your pillow can stop a bad dream in its tracks, while putting a pair of open scissors on the entrance to your house will keep the rain away.
If you are looking for good fortune in Brazil, there are certain objects that can help you. A porcelain elephant will bring you good luck and a pot of rock salt in a corner of your house (or hotel room, as the case may be) will keep bad luck at bay. Indeed, salt is associated with good luck in many parts of the world and is said to bring prosperity and protection, perhaps because its preservative and curative usage in ancient times. Although spilling salt is said to bring bad luck, it is easy to counteract: just throw a pinch of salt over your left shoulder to instantly undo this misfortune: it is the superstitious equivalent of pressing Command + Z on your keyboard!
The Portuguese good luck charm par excellence is the Rooster of Barcelos—also a symbol of faith and justice. According to legend, this rooster was instrumental in proving the innocence of a pilgrim who had been sentenced to death by hanging after being accused of stealing silver. These hand painted porcelain roosters are ubiquitous in Portugal and make a great gift to take back to loved ones as they are not only lucky but will also bring a touch of color to their homes.
In both France and Spain, accidentally stepping in dog droppings is said to bring good luck, but it is unlikely that you will find this is a worthwhile trade-off. Fortunately, there are many more pleasant ways to attract positive energy. Visiting Spain during New Year’s? It is traditional to eat twelve grapes at midnight to ensure a year of good fortune, a custom that has spread to some Latin American countries such as Cuba. The idea is to eat each grape in sync with each of the twelve chimes of the clock, so peeling and deseeding is a good idea for newbies. Oh, and don’t forget to wear something red for an extra boost of good luck.
Greece has its own fruit-related New Year’s tradition. Pomegranates are hung above the front door for the duration of the Christmas holidays as symbols of abundance and good fortune. The winter fruit is then smashed on the threshold as the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, with all the lights out. The more seeds are scattered, the luckier you will be in the coming year. It’s probably a good idea to check with your hotel before doing this, since pomegranate can stain. Or better yet, spend New Year’s with Greek friends and bring in the new year in good company.
Not all good luck charms are rooted in centuries of tradition. Bananas have recently become a symbol of good luck after the national Dominican baseball team, Dominicana, started taking them out on the field before games as a national symbol and one of the main exports of the Dominican Republic. They then went on to win eleven consecutive games at the World Baseball Classic. Now, even fans show up wearing banana necklaces to support their country, chanting “Plátano power!”
Of course, some superstitions are universal. Knocking on wood; carrying a good luck charm such as a four-leaf clover, lucky dice or a special gemstone; making a wish on a stray eyelash, falling star, wishing well, rainbow or when blowing out birthday candles are all ways to make good fortune come your way. Whether you are superstitious or sceptical, having an open mind and a positive attitude will keep you happy and safe on your travels. Good luck!
JESSICA DECAMP I 12/04/2018
Photography by Cordon PressMAKE IT REAL NOW