Superstitions in Romania

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One of the many things that any foreigner learns sooner rather than later in Romania is that Romanians tend to be superstitious. This goes hand in hand with being religious, as somehow religion, superstitions, and some pagan-rooted rituals seem to coexist quite well in this country. 

While some superstitions and old wives’ tales vary to certain degrees from one region to another, there are some general superstitions all Romanians seem to at least know, if not believe.

Even/odd number of flowers
When giving flowers as a gift, always bring an odd number of flowers. Bouquets with even numbers are reserved for funerals only.
So the superstition here would be that bringing an even number of flowers attracts bad luck — maybe even death.

Whistling indoors
Many Romanians believe that whistling inside the house brings bad luck, and many more are against doing the same in Church. They believe whistling might summon negative forces to the house or church.

Black cat
This is a more international superstition, which can be found in Romania as well: a black cat crossing your path is a bad sign.
Many people turn around or take a different route to avoid a black cat. In some countries, like the UK, the black cat is good luck, so be aware of this cultural difference.

Returning
Some Romanians believe it brings bad luck to return once you’ve started to do something — like returning home because you forgot something.
It is believed returning is a sign something will go wrong with the endeavor you’re starting. For example, if you forget something at home, and go back to collect it, the belief is you will have a bad day.

Sewing on clothes you’re wearing
This is a somehow strange superstition, with unclear origins. Mostly women believe it is bad luck to sew a garment you are wearing, even if, for example, you are sewing on a loose button. Instead, you should take the garment off, and then start sewing it.

Washing clothes on religious  holidays
This one is more religious, but for some people, it also has an aura of superstition: many Romanians do not wash clothes on religious holidays, even in the washing machine. The origin of the superstition comes from the olden days, when it was forbidden to throw out dirty water on holy days, so as not to ‘taint’ the day.

Payments on a Monday
A lot of Romanians avoid making payments on Mondays, as they believe it means they will keep making payments, hence losing money, all week. This might impact business deals, so it is best to avoid asking for (or at least nor expect) money and payments on a Monday morning.

Good & bad days
Many Romanians have personal superstitions when it comes to what they regard as good or bad days of the week, so they will use this personal belief to schedule, or, on the contrary, delay important meetings and even business deals. There are anecdotal stories of big company owners who refused to sign takeover documents on certain days of the week, even after everything was agreed and checked, as they believed the day was bad for important decisions. Tuesday, in particular is believed to have ‘three bad hours’.

Lucky charms
This is again a matter of personal choice and belief, but a lot of Romanians have lucky charms — sometimes it’s an object but it can even be a person.

Empty/full bucket
Seeing a person carrying an empty bucket is bad luck, some believe, as it means your day will be empty and will lack good results. But seeing a person with a full bucket (with anything, although most often water) means your day will be amazing.

Rain on your wedding day
People whose wedding day is a rainy one are usually not that upset — they know that, according to superstition, they will become rich.

Poop is luck
Stepping in poop without realizing it is a sign of luck, so if that ever happens to you while in Romania (and it might 🙂 ), you should feel lucky. In such cases, some Romanians even go and play the lottery, believing they will be lucky all of a sudden and win. On the same note, anyone who gets bird droppings on their head will be very lucky soon, the belief goes.

Sitting on the corner of a table
Young women usually avoid sitting on the corner of the table as the superstition means they will never get married.

Spilling salt
When salt is spilled on the table, it means there will be a fight in the family. Some variations of this superstition involve spilling pepper on the table.

Owl hooting
If an owl hoots close to a house, then somebody there will die, some people believe.

Bag on the floor
Romanian women never leave their bags on the floor, as it is considered bad luck and a sign of material loss. In restaurants, you will see women placing their bags on their chair, or on another chair. At home or at work, you will most likely not see many bags on the floor, for this very superstitious reason.

Want to read more about Romania and Romanians? Plan your local travels? City Compass Romania: Bucharest & Beyond, the 2017 edition, has all the essentials, and more, everything with a practical spin. 

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