Ukraine Superstitions and Culture
It is true that most Ukrainians belong to the Christian faith. But ten centuries ago, like most Slavic people, they were Pagans. They worshiped water, fire, trees, plants, and mother earth nature. Today you still can detect the remnants of those pagan beliefs in countless Ukraine superstitions, traditions, and customs. Ukraine superstitions play a significant role in the social life. It’s probably impossible to know all of them. Some are very common, but some are taken seriously only by a limited number of older people.
Ten centuries ago… It is pretty long term. But they still remember them. If you want to seem like a polite visitor, while traveling in Ukraine, it is wise to gain a deeper understanding of the Ukraine superstitions and national culture. This way you’ll pay homage to those who hold this customs & traditions. Also remember that not everyone in Ukraine follows such customs and traditions, it depends of each person to hold it or not. Important note. When it comes to the topic of Ukraine superstitions, there is a fine line between what is considered to be a superstition compared to what is actually a tradition or custom. Be aware. Some things which in your culture are regarded as superstitions, Ukrainians may consider as traditions or customs.
Social Do’s and Don’ts.
Sometimes the smallest things in life can cause offense. Below is an introductory guide to Ukraine superstitions, customs, and traditions you should be aware of to avoid embarrassing or insulting situations. Some of the Ukraine superstitions are based on common sense, while others may leave your feeling utterly baffled.
If someone gives good wishes, or you talk about your good fortune, you must spit three times over your left shoulder to keep your good fortune. If this strikes you as too bizarre, then knocking on wood should also produce the desired effect. Perhaps you know the phrase, that has relation to this believe — «life is good knock in wood!»
Before leaving a house for a long time (even for a couple of days) journey, you and everyone in the house should sit for a minute in silence.
Ensure that all your debts are settled before 31st December; otherwise you will be in debt for the whole of the next year.
Before entering a newly built house, send a cat in first to greet the house spirit.
If a knife falls down from the table, a male guest will come soon. If a spoon or a fork falls down, a female guest will come soon. If you don’t want them to come, you have to immediately knock three times with the utensil on the table and say ‘stay at home’
If your right palm itches you’re going to spend money. If your left palm itches you’re going to receive some money.
If someone gives you an animal as a gift (a kitten, a canary or a puppy, for example), you should give them a symbolic sum of money. One hryvnya is enough.
If you leave the house, but then return immediately before leaving for a second time, make sure that you change something about your appearance slightly, otherwise you run the risk of encountering bad luck.
If you do not recognize someone when you see them or call them on the phone, this person will get rich.
It’s good luck to break a dish.
Dont’s or Taboos.
Here’s a list of common Ukraine superstitions that Ukrainians regard as traditions. If you don’t want to look rude, don’t violate them in Ukraine.
It is considered quite rude to whistle while indoors. You may feel a few stares, not to mention, it is believed you will also lose a large amount of money soon after.
If you are going to buy flowers for somebody, make sure the number is odd, even numbers are for funerals. Don’t be surprised when the seller asks you, «Are they for a funeral?» while you are trying to buy four roses.
When you are celebrating a birthday, it is tradition to celebrate it on the day or after, but it is considered bad luck to party before the day arrives.
An unmarried girl mustn’t sit at the corner of a table, or she won’t be wed for seven years. So, if she is 15 only, it might be O.K.
Never throw bread crumbs in the trash or you’ll go hungry.
Don’t give handkerchiefs, mirrors or sharp objects as presents. If you decide to give a purse or a wallet, then remember to put some money in it first.
Refusing to drink vodka at a funeral banquet is absolutely unacceptable. If you are a total abstainer simply avoid any commemoration.
Whatever you do, don’t sit on cold stones because you won’t have children, especially if you’re a girl.
Never light a cigarette from a candle. It will bring you bad luck.
Never buy or accept as gifts baby clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, etc. before the baby is born.
Don’t put your hat, money, and especially your keys on the kitchen table.
Don’t drink without a toast — only at Easter you can drink without a toast (and of course funerals )
Do not return into the house once you’ve started on your way from it. But if you have to, then look into a mirror. Otherwise you’ll have a bad journey.
For your consolation. Thankfully, many Ukrainians believe that a person who doesn’t know the Ukraine superstitions is free from it. But you still have a chance to be stopped from doing something «wrong».
So, cross your fingers and do what they say.
If you feel the environment makes you absolutely crazy, here’s what you can do. Go in the street and try to see a pig. (Hm…I am afraid it can be a problem in the big city.)
Wait, wait! To see a pig in the street it’s a good luck!
Good luck to you!!!