As Seen In Bosnia – Superstition Edition

8th August 2015

bosniaIn my I Never Missed My Home Town Until I Stayed Away Too Long post I mentioned that a lot of Bosnians are super superstitious. What most people would call superstitions many Bosnians (not all of course) see as a fact and today I want to talk about a few of them because, yes it makes us look crazy but they are a big part of understanding the culture.

Cutting nails after dark is a big no no because that attract evil ghosts. And don’t ‘whistle while you work’ in the evening too, as this will mean you’ll need to call the Ghostbusters too. You don’t want to know how many nights I cried in my bed because my cousin whistled after dark and I thought the ghosts would kidnap me and drag me to the cemetery.

In Bosnia you can’t walk over someone’s legs (if they’re laying down or sitting), because apparently then they won’t grow anymore. My cousin came up with a way to turn it around and save ourselves: you had to walk backwards, cross you fingers, run outside and spit six times to avoid having kid size legs for life. We were pretty OCD that one summer.

As a kid you were told that if you leave your clothes inside out after they’re washed you will go mad. It’s just mamma’s little trick to scare you and get things done, but ever since I can’t bring myself to leave clothes inside out.

Baba_Roga

Whenever someone mentioned Baba Roga I would hide under the stairs. She is a scary old witch that steals children. She is very popular in Bosnia (and other Slavic countries where her name is similar) and your parents will subtly mention her in a conversation to scare you when you don’t listen. She’s thought to have inspired the witch who has those classy gingerbread digs in Hansel & Gretel.

 If you hiccup it means that someone is gossiping about you, probably a cousin who is jealous you copied her new haircut, jeans or blog post.

Soaking your socks in rakija (fruit brandy) and wearing them overnight when you have a fever will cure it … and I have to say that it helps me every time. Rakija is also the cure for sore throat, toothache, headache and any other first world problem. I haven’t tried it for FOMO, blog fatigue or writer’s block yet though.

You’re not allowed to go outside if your hair is wet because you will get upalu mozga (literate translation is: inflammation of the brain) and probably die. But no one really knows what this inflammation of the brain really is. As a kid I thought it meant your brain would suddenly catch a million flames and melt.

An itchy nose means you are about to get angry. I notice this a lot because it’s damn annoying. And an itchy right palm means you are about to get money while an itchy left palm, means you are about to spend money. Sadly my right palm never needs a scratch!

Sitting on a doorstep brings poverty or ghosts (them again). Seriously, don’t mess with this and get yourself jinxed. I always wonder why those ‘Most Haunted’ reality shows were never popular here, but I guess people have the real thing…

Don’t be too surprised when someone calls a newborn baby an ugly cutie pie in Bosnia, it’s pretty common to call a baby ugly because it is believe that if you say the baby is sweet or beautiful it will be cursed. And it avoids a lot of awkward situations.

I don’t know about you guys, but as a kid I often tried to count the stars because I couldn’t believe how many there were. But was always shushed and told I would die if I counted my own star. The story is that when a baby is born, a star appears in the sky and that star is your star and will shine all your life. And whenever you see falling stars it means that the one who had that star has died or will die. The reason you can’t count stars is because if you stumbled upon it you are going to die. I’m not sure it counts for those glow in the dark stars I’ve stuck on the ceiling in the past.

Do you have any superstitions from your cultures to share?

 

Baba_Roga

10 thoughts on “As Seen In Bosnia – Superstition Edition

  1. Sarah

    “Cutting nails after dark is a big no no because that attract evil ghosts. And don’t ‘whistle while you work’ in the evening too, as this will mean you’ll need to call the Ghostbusters too. You don’t want to know how many nights I cried in my bed because my cousin whistled after dark and I thought the ghosts would kidnap me and drag me to the cemetery.

    In Bosnia you can’t walk over someone’s legs (if they’re laying down or sitting), because apparently then they won’t grow anymore. My cousin came up with a way to turn it around and save ourselves: you had to walk backwards, cross you fingers, run outside and spit six times to avoid having kid size legs for life. We were pretty OCD that one summer.

    As a kid you were told that if you leave your clothes inside out after they’re washed you will go mad. It’s just mamma’s little trick to scare you and get things done, but ever since I can’t bring myself to leave clothes inside out.

    an itchy right palm means you are about to get money while an itchy left palm, means you are about to spend money. ”

    Oh my goodness! We have these superstitions here in the Philippines too! We also have so many ghost stories that I almost always get confused!

    xx
    Sarah

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  2. Deepti @ Endless Postcards

    Your culture is so cool! So interesting to read about these superstitions. I’m half Filipino and half Bengali but I know that my mom (my filipino side) taught me growing up not to whistle after dark and to not leave my clothes inside out. I could never whistle so that wasn’t a problem but I’m pretty sure I should’ve gone mad about a decade ago…

    Love this!

    xo, endlesspostcards.com

    Reply
  3. Daniel

    In Brazil we have this superstition about the hands itching, but I am not sure about which one is the one you will get money… Anyway it is interesting that two countries so far away can have the same superstition!!!

    Reply
  4. Cayce

    This was such an interesting read! Hm, we only have the usual ones (in Hungary), I think, like the ones about black cats bringing bad luck, or that you shouldn’t walk under ladders or, yeah, that if you sit at a corner of the table you won’t get married, hehe. But I think these are all pretty common superstitions.

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  5. signe

    Whoa! There are a lot of Bosnian superstitions. One of my best friends where I live now is Bosnian, but she’s never told me ANY of these! We like to tell ghost stories all the time, so I’m kind of surprised that she’s never mentioned these. I’ll have to bring a few up next time I chat with her. She’ll be so impressed that I know them!
    : signe :
    : the daily savant :

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