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Superstitions

By Lizonya May 25, 2013 3333 Words
Moscow Department of Education
Eastern Region

Superstitions

Moscow 2010
Superstitions

Contents
1. Introduction
2. History of superstitions
3. Typically Russian & British superstitions
4. Comparison of superstitions
5. Conclusion

Introduction

The subject of our scientific research is devoted to the superstitions, especially in Britain and Russia. In our work we are going to tell about typical omens of bad luck and lucky charms of these two countries and to find out common and different features of them.

The theme is also quite interesting from the point of the influence of superstitions on people. In addition we would like to draw attention to the originality of beliefs.

Working at this project we used different methods of research and study.

With the help of analyzing different sources of information, sociological poll, comparative analyses it came to light that the desire of people to know more about superstitions is enormous. They care about the history and the origin of them.

This work consists of five parts. One of them is introduction. Then there are three chapters and at the end there is a conclusion with a data, how superstitious people are nowadays.

The first chapter includes information about the history of the superstitions, particularly how and when they firstly began.

The second chapter is dedicated to the typically British & Russian superstitions.

The third part is connected with the comparison of English and Russian superstitions. In other words, we are going to compare them and to find out similarities and differences.

We hope that this project work could be interesting for people who are superstitious, interested in fate (= a power that controls everything) and in finding out what will happen to them in the future.

The word “superstition” means the irrational or absurd belief or fear that something we do or say may cause an event to occur that will affect us in the future.

There are two types of superstitions: Good Fortune (Good Luck) and Misfortune (Bad Luck).

The term superstition comes from the ancient language of Latin “superstitio”, meaning "to stand over in awe." The term is also related to the Latin word “superstes” ("outliving" or "surviving"), and in this sense refers to the remains of ideas and beliefs that continued long after their original meaning had been forgotten.

It would be true to say that most cultures around the world have their own particular superstitions and beliefs and many of them have been around for thousands of years and some are still around to this very day.

There are other words connected with superstition, such as Belief, Curse, Folklore, Hokum, Jinx and Omen. ~
How did superstitions begin?

Many people believe that superstitious beliefs originated during the earliest days of humanity. Faced with natural phenomena like thunderstorms and earthquakes, as well as the unpredictability of illness and food supply, human beings attempted to create an understandable world of powers that could be influenced by action. The earliest superstitions were created as a way to deal with the ignorance and fear of the unknown. Superstitions began centuries ago and based on general, culturally variable beliefs in a supernatural "reality". Our ancestors tried to explain mysterious circumstances or events, such as cemeteries, animals, demons, a devil, occupations, excessive scrupulosity, death, luck. For instance, before the development of science explained such strange things as why mirrors show our reflections or why shadows appear when it's sunny, ancient people reasoned that a shadow or reflection was part of their soul. If someone broke something onto which the shadow or reflection appeared, people believed that their soul was harmed. Therefore, when a person broke a mirror it was considered unlucky or harmful. Today we know that reflections and shadows are not part of our souls but if someone still believes it is bad luck to break a mirror they are said to be superstitious. They really do believe something will happen to them if they do or say something in a certain way. Furthermore, it was believed that the king of all these evil spirits was the Devil, and that the king of all the good spirits was God. This God and this Devil were at war, each trying to secure the souls of men.

Many people believe that luck plays an important part in their lives. People learn superstitions while they are children, and though few adults will admit to being superstitious, many act on superstitions out of habit.

Superstition has been deeply influential in history. It is astonishing how many of our common superstitions are as old as the days of Greece and Rome and how many of our customs have gained their significance from Greek and Roman customs and observances.

Most superstitions are centuries old, and British and Russian people have lots in common.

Typically Russian & British superstitions

In years gone by, numerous customs were observed to ensure that misfortune would not befall us and our loved ones. We may like to think that we live in a sophisticated age, but even in the 21st century, many customs and superstitions linger on.

Different parts of the country have their own particular superstitions designed to bring good fortune, health and wealth to their house and occupants.

I’m going to start speaking about typically British omens of bad luck. And I’m going to mention origin of some of them and ways of escaping bad fortune.

• One of the most widely-held beliefs of bad fortune is to open an umbrella in the house. It will either bring misfortune to the person that opened it or to the householder as this will annoy the sun. • Also, another well-known cause of bad luck is to walk under a ladder leaning against a wall. This idea may have developed out of the practice in medieval times of hanging criminals from ladder. However, if you must pass under a ladder you can avoid bad luck by crossing your finger and keeping them crossed until you've seen a dog. • In Britain the magpie is widely considered an unlucky bird and has been associated with the Devil. The number of magpies seen is important: “One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy.” • In some areas black Rabbits are thought to host the souls of human beings. White Rabbits are said to be really witches and some believe that saying 'White Rabbit' on the first day of each month brings luck. A common lucky charm is a Rabbit's foot, but not for the Rabbit. • It is said to be bad luck if you see bats flying and hear their cries. In the middle ages it was believed that witches were closely associated with bats. • It is thought very unlucky to have the feathers of a Peacock within the home or handle anything made with them. This is possibly because of the eye shape present upon these feathers i.e. the Evil-Eye associated with wickedness.

Now I’m going to take a close look at the most interesting British lucky charms.

• One ancient British superstition holds that if a child rides on a bear's back it will be protected from whooping-cough. (Bears used to roam Britain but now they are not seen on our shores) • On the first day of the month it is lucky to say "white rabbits, white rabbits white rabbits," before uttering your first word of the day. • People in Britain believe that wishing somebody good luck will bring them opposite, and often say ‘break a leg instead’. • Catch falling leaves in autumn and you'll have good luck. Every leaf means a lucky month next year.

So, these were typically British superstitions and now I’d like to pay my attention on true Russian beliefs of good luck and misfortune.

• A woman with empty water buckets coming towards you is considered a bad omen; it is advised not to take her pass and try to get around it. However, a person with full buckets is a sign of wealth and prosperity – you should follow or cross the path of that person before someone else does it. • Another popular belief in Russia is that if two or more people are walking outside and letting a tree or a pole pass between them, it may cause a big argument or discord between them. If they did that accidentally, they should say “Hello” to each other as soon as they pass a tree or a pole. • One should not to shake hands or give something through a threshold.

During my work on the project I have noticed that there are rather few typically Russian superstitions. The biggest part is well-known and practiced in Russia as in other countries, naturally with some changes. Thus, I’m going to speak about these superstitions and find out common and different features of them.

Comparison of superstitions
In this chapter we’re going to study superstitions that exist both in the UK and Russia. Moreover, I have interested very much in theme of our project, that’s why I’d like to tell about the most popular superstitions around the world, which attract my attention.

To start with, general beliefs:
➢ Knocking on wood is practiced in Russia as in other countries. When people talk about something that they hope will come true they may touch something made of wood and say “touch wood”; knock on wood, to make something come true. ➢ Hanging a horseshoe over the door, the idea is that all your good luck will be caught in the shoe like a cup and therefore will last forever. But the horseshoe needs to be the right way up. The luck runs out of the horseshoe if it is upside down. ➢ If you see a four leaf clover in a field, keep it safe. Some people believe it can bring you lots of good luck. The four leaflets supposedly represent wealth, fame, good health, and a faithful lover as expressed in this rhyme:

One leaf for fame, One leaf for wealth,
One leaf for a faithful lover,
And one leaf to bring glorious health
All are in the four-leaf clover.

Carrying a four-leaf clover is said to
Ward off evil spirits,
While dreaming of one supposedly fortells
a successful marriage.

➢ Returning home for forgotten things is a bad omen. It is better to leave it behind, but if returning is necessary, one should look in the mirror before leaving the house again. Otherwise the journey will be bad.

There are many well-known omens of bad luck, some of which have a religious origin.

➢ The number 13 is considered unlucky. Tall buildings often do not have a 13th floor; instead the numbers jump from 12 to 14. Many people believe they will have a bad day when the 13th day of the month falls on a Friday. By the way there are many different theories about the origin of 13 being considered an unlucky number. Tracing the superstitions back, the earliest theories claim that in ancient religion, Valhalla, the home of the Gods, had twelve guests at a feast and a thirteenth, the God of Deceit, turned up uninvited. Others believe that 13 was considered a sacred number, representing the 13 moons of the year. For Christians, 13 was the number at the Last Supper when Judas betrayed Jesus. It is also claimed that Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden on a Friday, Noah's flood started on a Friday and Christ was crucified on a Friday so it is likely these days and numbers combined were given the sigil of bad luck.

➢ If you spill salt, it's bad luck and is said to bring conflict. Also, throwing salt over your left shoulder will bring good luck. This comes from the belief that the Devil sits behind you, on the left, so the salt would go into his face; [pic]

Along with general, same superstitions in Russia and Britain there are some different. What I mean is:
➢ The worst misfortune that can befall you is breaking a mirror. It’s supposed to bring you 7 years of bad luck. However, it’s not considered bad luck in Russia, only looking at one's reflection in a broken mirror is. But an old, little-known solution is to put the pieces under running water in order to wash away the bad luck. ➢ A purse as a gift requires a little money inside. Given empty it causes bad financial luck. Also, putting money in the pocket of new clothes brings good luck. ➢ A black cat walking past you, it’s often a symbol of evil, so to have one walk past you is especially bad, especially in Russia. Although British people have the opposite view and consider a black cat as a bringer of good fortune or a lucky charm. Black cats are featured on many good luck greetings cards and birthday cards in England. And now about the most popular superstitions around the world, which attract my attention during our work on the project.

There are hundreds of feline folktales and superstitions, connected with cats - predict the weather, sense domestic disharmony, bring either good or bad luck. Here are the most interesting: Tri-coloured cats are lucky in Canada and Russia. Furthermore, In Russia, couples make sure a cat moves into their new home with them to bring good fortune. I was wondered the number 13 isn’t considered unlucky all over the world. In China, for instance, the number 4 is considered unlucky because in the Chinese language four has a similar sound to the Chinese word for death. In Thailand the number six is supposed to bring bad luck because it’s believed that it can reverse or undo your good fortune. In Chinese houses the word luck is hung on the wall upside down so the good fortune doesn’t run away. In Brazil, if you put the sugar into the cup before coffee, then you will become reach.

Conclusion

Superstitions play an important role in our lives. Beliefs and omens of good luck and misfortune pervade the everyday world to such a degree that we are sometimes unaware of their enormous influence on our behavior. Superstitions are part of every modern culture in today's world. They help us overcome issues difficult to understand and aid us in transitional years, often telling us what is ethically writ and wrong. In modern times we often consider ourselves above all of this nonsense of good and bad luck but, just watch people long enough and you'll find most people have something they 'believe in'. As it helps sometimes when life treats us unfairly, when love leaves us broken-hearted, we forget that someday our prince will come. Believe in superstitions, pay attention on all signs and hope it’ll protect you from the evil eye, bad events.

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The Used Literature

• Opie, Iona and Moira Tatem. A Dictionary of Superstitions • Planer, Felix E. Superstition, 1988, New York: Prometheus Books • Vyse, Stuart A., 1997. Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition New York: Oxford University Press • Kevin R. Foster; Hanna Kokko (2009), "The evolution of superstitious and superstition-like behaviour"

Daily life is full of lots of things we believe are lucky or unlucky but few of us actually know where these beliefs came from.

There is much we can learn by reflecting on the stories heard in childhood. Magical characters such as the Pied Piper, the talking frog and the fairy godmother are likely to remain in the imagination for a lifetime. The adventures these stories describe often reflect challenges we face in our journeys. The tales hide a wealth of insights just below the surface. They are clearly more than mere entertainment for children. Too often these days we get so caught up in the mundane details of our lives that we forget to see the wonder in what we have, in the loves and friendships we find in our lives. We are so busy with our monthly bills and our daily jobs that we forget to see the miracles all about us. Weighed down by our every day lives, we forget that fairy tales can come true. Believing in the magic in everyday life, seeing that our lives can be fairy tales, doesn't mean that the real world is any less there. Bills still need to be paid, daily jobs must be worked. But happiness is something we choose to have, as much as it is something we find, and when you choose to see the wonder in your life, miracles can happen.

Being superstitious can involve an action or an object…or both. Touching a certain thing, such as wood or carrying part of an animal can relax or reassure you. Saying a certain word a number of times can give you a psychological boost and relax your mind.

Despite the negative attitude towards superstition, there are still quite a few people who strongly believe in it. Here are some examples of

Bad superstitions:
These days people tend not to take superstition very seriously. Some see it is a weakness or a way of blaming something else for our own faults.

Russia: Customs & Superstitions!

Customs:

* Breaking a mirror is not considered bad luck in Russia, but looking at one's reflection in a broken mirror is.

*
* If one feels that he or she may have been cursed by someone (had the "evil eye" put on them) or just has the feeling of a hostile presence, it is recommended to remove one's coat and then put it back on starting with the hand opposing the usually used one.

Superstitions:

* If your ears or cheeks are hot, someone is thinking or talking about you. * If your nose itches, you'll be drinking soon.
* If your right eye itches, you're going to be happy soon. If your left eye itches, you'll be sad. * If your lips itch, you'll be kissing someone soon.
* If your right hand itches, you're going to get money soon. It sometimes means you're going to greet someone. If your left hand itches, you're going to give someone money. * If an eyelash falls out you'll receive a gift. If someone finds an eyelash on someone he or she will sometimes let the person blow it away and make a wish. * If you eat from a knife, you'll be "angry like a dog".

* If a black cat crosses your path, it's bad luck. People will often avoid crossing the place where it crossed, or will at least wait for someone else to cross it first. ------------------------------------------------

I find it interesting that Russians do not consider an open umbrella in the house to be bad luck, nor do they consider walking under a ladder bad luck. When I grew up those two were bad things to do, along with "Step on a crack and break your mothers back!"

http://www.aerotranslate.com/russian-culture/russian-superstitions-in-everyday-life.html

General Superstitions

Good Luck

MOST COMMON SUPERSTITIONS

It's bad luck to have a black cat cross your path.
If you see a shooting star it will bring you good luck.

CATS IN FOLKLORE AND SUPERSTITION
Cats' eyes tell the time or the tides. Cats are witch's familiars, enchanted princesses, beloved by priests and prophets or envoys of the devil since they were sneezed forth by lions on the Ark and not created by God. This is very much a romp through some of the feline folktales and superstitions found around the world.

CATS, DEMONS AND FAIRYKIND

.

SUPERSTITIONS

Two women must not pour from the same tea-pot, if they do, a quarrel will ensue

It is easy to dismiss superstition as absurd, but only those who can break a mirror without a second thought are entitled to do so.

http://www.windowstorussia.com/2008/03/russia-customs-superstitions.html http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/questions/superstitions.htm http://www.angelfire.com/darkside/ladyb/alter.html

http://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/Superstitions.htm

http://english-exam.ru/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1136&Itemid=1 видео

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