Russia is a strange and mysterious land even still today, as evidenced by the absolute fascination Tim and I have been met with since returning from our trip. Russians are very superstitious people. They believe in the Evil Eye (дурной глаз in Russian), an evil look that brings bad luck or trouble, and they fear it. Russians do a whole host of odd things to ward off the bad luck and even to welcome good luck. I’d smile as our G Adventures CEO and Muscovite, Daria, would tell tales of the wonderful folklore and superstitions of the Russian people. I’ve never really been a superstitious person, but hey, anything that brings good luck, right? So, after watching this enigmatic culture, we’d follow suit. Exactly how can you bring yourself a bit of good luck according to Russian superstitions? Here are just a few Russian superstitions:
More than 6 million people stream through the Moscow metro stations each day, yet stand in the Ploshchad Revolyutsii (Пло́щадь Револю́ции) metro station observing Muscovites for a few minutes. You’ll notice they all take a few seconds out of their busy day to give a bronze dog’s nose a good rub. But only with your left hand! They say this brings luck and happiness.
Novodevichy Convent, Moscow
The Tsarina Sofia was imprisoned by her half brother, Peter the Great, in the tower at the Novodevichy Convent. There is a Russian superstition that if you touch the white stone of the Sofiiskaya Tower and make a romantic wish, it will come true. But you must never tell your wish!
Kilometer Zero Moscow
Kilometer Zero is the point in a country’s capital city where all distances are being measured from and Kilometer Zero Moscow happens to lie in front of the famous Iberian Gate. The Iberian Gate connects Manege Square and Red Square and Kilometer Zero is marked on the ground with a plaque. Muscovites and tourists alike can be seen tossing a coin over their shoulder to try to please Lady Fortune. If your coin lands on the plaque, Lady Fortune has blessed you with good luck.
But don’t pick up coins from around the plaque. The popular belief is that such coins carry negative energy if they were thrown by a bad person and cause sickness.
Russian’s have oh-so-many superstitions around money. But one you should definitely know is that Russians believe money has the power to transfer energy. They’ll never accept money if you hand it directly to them. Instead, they’ll insist you place the money in a tray. Only then has the energy connection been broken and it is safe to pick up the money. You’ll notice that Russians deliver your change in the same way. And for good luck, be sure to only give money with your right hand and take it with your left.
One other superstition, and a good tip, is not to leave your purse or bag on the floor. It is believed you’ll lose your fortune. And if any of these Russian superstitions are true, it’s definitely this one as leaving your purse or bag on the floor also means it’s likely to be stolen.
Russians gather to toss their spare change – very skilfully, in fact – into a tiny gap in Peter the Great’s boot while making a wish in the Lower Gardens at Peterhof Palace. It is believed that if the coin makes it into the boot, the wish will come true.
There is a superstition that the first being to enter a house for the very first time will certainly meet death. Cats have nine lives, so naturally Russians send a cat in first. If the cat refuses to enter, it is a bad omen and Russians will build their house somewhere else. If the cat does enter and curls up in a corner, this is to become the Red Corner, a place in a house for religious icons.
So there you have it! These Russian superstitions might sound ridiculous, but they’ll all supposedly bring you Удачи (good luck)!
Our trip to Russia was sponsored in part by G Adventures. As always, all opinions are entirely our own.