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SPANISH TRADITIONS

Why Tuesday 13th is unlucky in Spain and the Spanish superstitions to beware of

It's not Friday 13th that is considered a day of bad luck in Spain but Tuesday 13th. Read on for the lowdown on why this is and some of the strangest Spanish superstitions.

Why Tuesday 13th is unlucky in Spain and the Spanish superstitions to beware of
Photo: Daria Shatova /Unsplash

If you’re the kind of superstitious soul who never walks under a ladder and is always confused about whether black cats are meant to bring bad luck or good, then you will want to know what twists of fate await you according to Spanish beliefs.

It is Tuesday the 13th that is considered unlucky in Spain, and not Friday the 13th as in Anglo-Saxon countries.

That’s because Tuesday is said to be dominated by Ares, the Greek god of war — known as Mars in Ancient Rome — who gives his name to martes, Tuesday in Spanish.

There is even an old proverb that explains the superstition: “On Tuesday, don’t get married, embark on a journey, or move away (‘En martes, ni te cases, ni te embarques, ni de tu casa te apartes‘)

But there are plenty of other Spanish superstitions you need to know about to make sure your time in Spain is as lucky as possible! Read on to find out more.

HATS ON HEADS, NOT BEDS:


Photo by Mikaela Rae on Unsplash

In Spain, putting a hat on a bed will bring bad luck. This could stem from the time when people believed that evil spirits lived in your hair, so, they could easily be transferred from hair to hat to bed, resulting in evil spirits getting you in the night. Might be best to keep that hat on the hat stand, just in case.

NO SHARP GIFTS:

Don’t buy family or friends knives or scissors as a gift. Tradition says that this means that the relationship will be broken. So think again about that set of knives you bought as a wedding present!

BREAK A LEG:

What is it with wishing harm on people as a sign of good luck? The theatre has always been rife with superstitions and while in many countries “break a leg” is the standard way to wish good luck, in Spain you’ve got to wish that person “mucha mierda” or “loads of shit”.

CACTUS MYSTERY:

Ever wondered why there are so many cactuses on window sills in Spain? That’s because it is widely believed in Spain that a cactus can ward away evil.

SEVEN LIVES:

While most countries have a superstition about cats having multiple lives because of their suppleness and savvy at getting out of difficult situations, poor Iberian kitty’s have two fewer lives than their English counterparts, or just seven.

DON’T BUY YELLOW CLOTHES AS A GIFT: 

This comes from the idea that yellow represents sulphur and the Devil. The colour yellow is also said to bring bad luck in certain situations, so don’t wear yellow on the day of an exam, a job interview or when you are starring in a play.


Photo by Alesia Kazantceva on Unsplash

BEST FOOT FORWARD: 

Misfortune, it is said, enters a room with its left foot. If you do happen to enter a room with your left foot, then don’t worry. Just make sure to make the sign of the cross three times to counter the bad luck!

SWEPT OFF YOUR FEET:


Photo by Daniel von Appen on Unsplash

If you accidentally brush the feet of a single woman while sweeping, it means she’ll never get married. The superstition is related to witches.

PURSE PROBLEMS:

Always make sure there is an extra chair at your table in Spain: for your handbag. Spaniards believe that leaving your handbag on the floor will result in you losing all your money.

LUCKY NEW YEAR! 


Photo: Chris Oakley/Flickr

Spaniards traditionally eat 12 grapes on the 12 strokes of midnight on New Year’s Eve. For even more luck and prosperity for the year ahead, wearing red underwear on the last night of the year will also help.

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Member comments

  1. “Always make sure there is an extra chair at your table in Spain: for your handbag. Spaniards believe that leaving your handbag on the floor will result in you losing all your money.”
    And leaving it on a nice accessible chair makes it easier for the passing thief to snatch it while passing.

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SPANISH HABITS

¡Salud! The different ways to say cheers in Spanish

You may be familiar with the basic way Spaniards say ‘cheers’, but there are other Spanish expressions and habits associated with clinking glasses and making a toast that you’ll be happy to learn.

¡Salud! The different ways to say cheers in Spanish

Life in Spain comes with plenty of get-togethers and celebrations, and although alcoholic excesses are not generally part of the Spanish culture, booze will be a part of almost all social occurrences.

If you’re a foreigner who’s made Spain their new home, it’s therefore important to familiarise yourself with the language and idiosyncrasies that are part of such occasions.

Let’s start with the word for a toast, in the sense of honouring someone or something with a drink.

The noun for this is un brindis, which apparently originally comes from the German ‘bring dirs’, meaning ‘bring thee’ (as in, I’ll ‘bring thee’ a drink, a speech, etc.). There’s also the verb brindar, which means to toast.

So if you want to give a toast in Spanish, you should start off by saying me gustaría proponer un brindis por… or me gustaría brindar por… (I’d like to make a toast for) and once you’ve finished your speech you should raise your glass and for example say ¡Por los novios! (for the newlyweds) or ¡Por Juan! (for Juan!).

When it comes to clinking the glasses, Spaniards will often use the interjection chinchín, an onomatopoeia which pays heed to the sound, but it’s really the same as saying cheers.

The most common word used in Spanish to say cheers is ¡Salud!, which means ‘health’, in the same way as the French say santé and the Germans gesondheid. Spaniards may also direct their toast specifically at the person they’re drinking with by saying ¡A tu salud! (To your health!). 

You may be happy to learn that Spaniards don’t take the custom of looking into the other person’s eyes while clinking glasses or drinking quite so seriously as in other European countries, where the failure to do so carries the penalty of seven years of bad sex (ouch!).

A quick glance at the person you’re cheering with will go down well, however, as direct eye contact is the standard in social situations in Spain.

READ ALSO: Why does the birthday person pay for everyone’s food and drinks in Spain?

What is considered to bring bad luck in the bedroom is toasting with a non-alcoholic drink in Spain, so consider yourself warned.

Catalans have an interesting version of the Spanish cheers – ¡salut i força al canut! – which translates to ‘Cheers and strength to the purse’ in order to wish health and wealth, although some people wrongly assume it’s meant to wish people good virility.

While we’re on the subject, there is a very common cheering expression used in Spanish to do with rumpy pumpy.

After cheering, whether by raising a glass or clicking glasses, many Spaniards will then take their glass and quickly place it down on the table before lifting it again to take a swig.

Bemused foreigners will then be reminded that el que no apoya, no folla, ‘the one who doesn’t place it (the glass) down, doesn’t have sex’.

Does it make it any sense? Nope, but it does get a few laughs, and before long you’ll find yourself quickly tapping the base of your drink against the table through force of habit.

Another interesting habit that foreigners in Spain tend to find amusing is when a group of friends in a circle move their glasses in four different directions whilst saying ¡Arriba, abajo, al centro y para dentro!, which means ‘up, down, to the centre and inside’, the latter being when you drink.

So there you have it, ¡Salud a todos! (Cheers to everyone!)

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