Russian superstitions

Never have a bad day in Russia

Russian superstitions

Superstitions are part of all cultures. What seems perfectly normal for us, may be considered bad luck by others. Russia is a huge country with many different regions, consequently the range of superstitions is equally as large!

Bad luck

If you have forgotten something it is natural to return home to get it, not for Russians, it is an omen of bad luck. They would really consider if they need the item during the day and if they do decide to return home, they will have to look in the mirror before leaving again (unless it is broken!). This should take the bad luck away. Breaking a mirror means seven years of bad luck, as is the same in several other countries.

Do not greet people or accept/give gifts over the threshold of a door. Greetings (hugs, kisses etc.) and the handing over of gifts should be done either outside or inside. Even accepting a delivery pizza will sometimes mean that you have to step outside your house.

Don’t be surprised if someone does not accept your cash when you hand it to them. Handing over money directly to someone (such as a clerk or taxi driver) is an opportunity to pass on bad energy. You might often find you have to put the money on a dashboard or a tray.

Before a (long) journey, it is perfectly normal that everyone, even the people who aren’t actually going on the trip, will sit down for a minute in silence. It is a moment to relax and think if you have forgotten anything (or anyone).

Do not carry an empty bucket, or a container. If you see someone carrying one you will have a bad day, and carrying one yourself means you will give others a bad day.

Seeing a black cat crossing your path also symbolises bad luck, as in many countries. Do not follow or cross the path of the black cat. If you have to you can bless yourself by signing the cross. Some people will actually wait until someone else crosses the path so they will carry the bad energy with them.

Never whistle indoors! This will cause lots of financial problems for the people living in that particular house. Most Russians really do not like this at all.

Friendships and relationships

Though this custom is not taken too seriously, it is not normal to give people a knife (or any sharp item) as a present. Most of the time, people will appreciate your gift and they will joke about this superstition. Sometimes you might get a symbolic ruble in return which means they have actually bought it from you, rather than accepted it as a gift. This can happen when you give a pet or a scarf as a present as well.

Do not step on someones feet. If this happens, the person will step lightly on yours to avoid a confrontation in the near future. Stepping over someone who is on the floor is taboo as well.

If you are afraid of staying single for the rest of your life, do not sit at the corner of a table! This means you will stay single for a long time.

Wait until it is actually someone’s birthday before wishing many happy returns. Wishing them “Happy Birthday” before their actual birthday will result in bad luck. If you want to throw a party for your friend, make sure it’s after their birthday!

Do not dry your body with the same towel as your partner, this means you may have an argument.

Never give someone an even amount of flowers! This only happens at funerals. The same goes for yellow flowers, these are supposed to lead to a breakup.


Empty bottles should be placed on the ground, and a shot glass should never be put back on the table with alcohol still in it. There also shouldn't be a long pause between your first and second shots and departing guests must drink one last shot for good luck.

Of course, not everyone believes in all of these superstitions. Some may even be completely disregarded by the younger generation. Yet they make a great talking point for expats learning the culture with their Russian friends.  If you know any other superstitions let us know in the comment section below!

Further reading

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