Top 5 Favorite (& Adopted) Superstitions from Ukraine

This post was written by Matthew Clark
A few months into teaching English abroad in Ukraine I had experienced firsthand several cultural superstitions.  Some of them really stretched my comfort level, most were charming.  Below are my favorites.

1. It’s not not uncommon for a mother to fasten a safety pin on her baby’s clothing to protect him and keep the “bad spirits” away.  This sometimes continues even when the child is grown and is traveling or away at university.  I can’t say I’m a firm believer in the Power of The Safety Pin, but if you’re like me, you can use all the help you can get! I still clip them on from time to time.

2. If you whistle indoors, you will be poor.  My wife was scolded multiple times by Ukrainians for this.  Our response was, “It doesn’t really matter because we are already poor” :).

3. If you forget something in your house or apartment and you have to go back, be sure to look in the mirror.  To this day I have this habit and simply don’t feel right leaving unless I find a mirror.  Again, I’m not really afraid of anything bad happening, but why test fate?

4. When shaking hands in greeting, you must always be aware of the other person’s hand wear.  If they don’t have a glove on and you do, take yours off.  On the other hand (pun intended), glove-to-glove contact is acceptable.  If you do not remove your glove when shaking hands with someone without a glove, you are sending the message that you don’t respect them and don’t want a friendship with that person.

5. If a husband and wife clink glasses during a toast they will be poor.  Again, not a whole lot to lose for me in this case, but clinking glasses with my wife doesn’t feel natural to this day.

What are some of the superstitions you’ve adopted from another culture?

Hear from Kevin, who also taught English in Ukraine!