The modern word ‘superstition’ comes from the Latin superstitio. At that time the term “superstition” was used in Italy mostly in the negative sense: excessive fear of the gods, religious belief based on fear or ignorance and considered incompatible with truth or reason as opposed to religion, the proper, reasonable awe of the gods.
There is significant evidence to suggest that Italians are the most superstitious amongst us Europeans. Below some examples:
Wearing the Corno amulet (The Devil’s Horn) to fight bad luck, evil eye and negativity.
Treat bread with consideration
A loaf of bread should always be placed facing up. This belief is based on the religious fact that bread is considered a symbol of life, therefore, its bad luck to turn the bread up-side-down or stick a knife into it.
Single people….avoid brooms!
If you’re single and hoping to lock down your Principe Azzurro (Prince Charming) then make sure you avoid people when they’re sweeping the floor. As the saying goes if the broom touches your feet, apparently you won’t get married.
In many cultures, the number 13 is seen as a symbol of bad luck. In Italy, however, 13 is a lucky number, especially when it comes to gambling. The number 13 is also associated with the Goddess of Fertility, who controls the lunar cycles. This created the belief that anything related to the number 13 brings good fortune, success, prosperity and rich life. Although 13 is considered lucky, there should never be 13 people sitting around a table. This superstition refers to the Last Supper as there were 13 people at the table; twelve Apostles and Jesus. It is said that Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th man to sit at the table.
Beware of a black cat crossing your path
If a cat is crossing the street, don’t be the first one to cross its path, as you’ll have bad luck. It’s believed that black cats are a symbol of witchcraft and the devil. We, however, think they are adorable!
Don’t Spill Salt or Olive Oil
At any Italian meal, there will most likely be olive oil and salt. Superstition says that spilling salt or olive oil will bring bad luck. Luckily, tossing a pinch of the spilled salt over your left shoulder or dabbing a bit of spilled oil behind each ear is believed to prevent the misfortune. It’s believed that spilling salt and olive oil wasn’t originally supposed to cause bad luck, but rather, in ancient times, it was simply considered unreasonable to spill such an expensive good.