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10 surprising Turkish superstitions that will have you scratching your head

There’s no other place in the world like Turkey. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, filled with the friendliest people and endowed with a vibrant folk culture, which is, well, a different kind of story: and a fascinating one. Take a look at these quirky superstitions that are still very much part of Turkish culture

1. The Evil Eye/ Nazar

A superstition shared by all Turks is the Nazar, the power of negative energy that mainly arises from jealousy or even a compliment. The consequences of Nazar range from illness, misfortune, harm and sometimes death. To protect themselves from any curse, people wear charms in the shape of an eye, which you can find at any Turkish bazaar. So if you’re visiting Turkey soon, ensure your luck continues with one of these trinkets.

2. Ringing ears

According to Turkish people, the sensation of ringing in the ears not only causes discomfort, it can also be quite a sign; somebody is probably talking about you. If the ringing is on the left ear, beware! The person doesn’t speak well of you. However, if your right side rings, someone must be praising you.

Palm reader's map

3. Itching palms

As with ringing ears, there’s also a surprising meaning behind your itchy palms. Depending on whether you are experiencing left or right hand itching, it could mean different things. For example, itching on your right hand can indicate that you will receive a reward soon, in money form. This doesn’t seem to be the case with your left hand: when it itches, prepare to lose money. 

4. Put the knife down

Turks spend a lot of time around food as it is a central part of their culture, and when it comes to being around the kitchen, there’s only one rule: Never, in  any circumstances should you hand someone a knife. If you do, get ready to fight with them.

Knock on wood

5. Knock on wood

In many countries around the globe, people knock their knuckles on a piece of wood to bring themselves good fortune and ward off bad luck. Turkey is one of those countries, but its people have taken this ritual a step further: for Turks, you can’t be fully guarded, unless you pinch your ear three times while knocking on wood, saying “aman nazar degmesin”, which means, “May the evil eye not be cast”. 

6. Traveller's water

If you ever set off on a trip, and your Turkish friend pours a glass of water behind your back, don’t freak out. In Turkey, it’s the most common thing to do when a loved one travels far from home. In a way, the Turks make sure that your journey will “flow like water.” 

Turkish wedding

7 Stepping on the groom's foot

There’s no better way of celebrating your love and commitment to someone than a wedding ceremony. In Turkey, the bride can be seen trying to squash the groom’s foot during the wedding ceremony. The story behind this behaviour is very simple and fun: if she manages to stomp on his foot, she will have the upper hand during the marriage.

8. Mirror, mirror

According to the Turkish folklore, staring at a mirror during nighttime is not such a positive sign, and you should avoid it at all costs. Also, when it comes to handling a mirror, do it with extra caution, since a broken mirror brings bad luck to a house for seven whole years. 

In extreme cases it can turn into a horrible omen, meaning that someone in the house will die. However, if you’re ‘lucky’ enough to break one, burry all the pieces of the mirror immediately.

Umbrellas turkey

9. Beware of bad-luck rain

An umbrella's purpose is to protect us from rain- which obviously can’t be felt indoors. So Turks might not be completely wrong for believing that an umbrella must never be opened at home. In fact, as they suggest, if you choose to open one, it will result in bad luck “raining” down on you. Act wisely: save the umbrella for the rainy season.

10. Cut your nails by day

Turks believe that cutting your fingernails or toenails at night will not only bring bad luck, poverty, or even death in the family but also ghosts and evil spirits. Do we believe in these superstitions? Probably not. Will we avoid the nail clipper anyway because we’d rather not have an evil spirit show up? Absolutely!


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