Ukraine – Every nation has their own beliefs and they get so deep into our culture that sometimes people don’t realise how strange they might look for a foreigner. You said something you really don’t want to happen – touch wood. This is probably one of the most common beliefs in the whole of Europe. But imagine what a person from other continents would think watching us looking for a piece of wood and freaking out if we don’t find one?
To make people understand the behaviour of Ukrainians in some situations and stop them from calling the ambulance thinking that the person has gone mad this is the list of the most common and weird beliefs in Ukraine:
A BLACK CAT
A black cat, according to Ukrainians brings unhappiness. The worst case is if the black cat crosses the road in front of you. If this happens try to run in front of the cat or shush it away. If you don’t a disaster might happen that day. And who will you blame? Correct, it’s all the fault of the black cat.
SITTING AT THE CORNER OF A TABLE
Do you remember the game called musical chairs, where you have to get a chair otherwise you lose in the game? This belief is similar. When there are not enough spaces at the table you must try to get any chair but not the one which stands at a corner. It is the most dangerous for young unmarried girls as it is believed they will not get married any time soon if they sit at the corner. Girls can make quite a big fuss trying to swap the seats with some married women or men. So don’t be surprised if you see lots of swapping going on around at a busy table and at the end you are the one who has to sit at the corner. Ukrainian girls had valid reasons to put you there.
A WOMAN WITH AN EMPTY BUCKET
Here the story is similar to the one with a black cat. It is believed that if the first person you meet when you come out is a woman with an empty bucket you will have bad luck throughout the day. Unlike it was in the belief about the black cat you can’t just shush the woman away so your only hope is to meet a man with a full bucket because this is a sign of very good luck throughout the day. Do you also think there is a bit of female discrimination going on?
KNOCK THREE TIMES AND SPIT OVER YOUR SHOULDER
This belief is similar to the one about touching the wood. When you say something you really don’t want to happen you must find a wooden surface and knock on it three times, after that turn your head and spit three times over your left shoulder. Don’t spit too much. People are basically just making spitting noises. But if they said something really horrible and they are really afraid that it might happen the whole ritual can become really nasty with lots of spitting and very heavy knocking.
Following the logic, a broken plate would normally mean something bad. But did you see any logic in the previous beliefs? No. That’s why a broken plate means luck! No imagine the situation, you come to the house of your Ukrainian friend and break their favourite plate. You will probably get scared, start saying something about refunding it or buying the same but a new one while your Ukrainian friend will probably stay more or less calm and say, ‘Don’t worry, that’s for luck!’.
After spending some time in Ukraine you will see how superstitious this nation is. Hopefully this article will make it easier for you to get used to the local traditions and explain some strange behaviors of Ukrainians.