Ukrainian Superstitions –

If you find yourself walking on a street in Kiev and a man in front of you turns to spit three times over his left shoulder, do not be alarmed – his deed is an effort to avoid jinxing himself when tempting the Fates. Ukrainians are proudly superstitious and have long integrated their history of paganism, folklore, and ritual into their worldview.

Pre-Christian Ukrainian culture worshipped multiple gods and though most of these beliefs did not survive the eventual wave of Christianity when many pagan deities were converted to Christian saints, Ukrainians still believe that spirits reside in the fields, in the orchards, in the forests, and in the skies.

Today, Christian devotions share the stage with old beliefs. As an old proverb suggests, “one must love God but shouldn’t make the devil angry” either. While it is bad luck to make Borsch on Thursdays, it is good luck to sit between two people with the same name. Though an unmarried Ukrainian woman never sits at the corner of a table if she wants to marry within the next seven years, it is not unusual for people to sit on their luggage before going on a trip.

Even travelers to Ukraine are advised to be mindful of the spirits. Never shake hands over a threshold for you will send misfortune to your host. Never leave an empty bottle on the table but if a bottle is opened, drink up. While flowers are considered a gracious gift, do not present a bouquet with an even number of flowers. An even number signifies death. Always keep an open mind. Remember, the spirits may be watching!