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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.

READ MORE: 

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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SEMANA SANTA

‘We’re strong enough’: Women bear weight of Easter ritual in changing Spain

While religious orders started allowing women to carry floats in Spain's famous Semana Santa processions 30 years ago, female "costaleros" - as float bearers are known - remain a minority who still face resistance.

'We're strong enough': Women bear weight of Easter ritual in changing Spain

On Holy Monday in the historic city of Granada in southern Spain, a team of 50 women rock rhythmically from foot to foot carrying a 1.5-tonne float topped with a statue of Jesus and Mary.

They support the weight on wooden ribs under the belly of the float as they inch forward through the city for ten hours.

A heavy velvet cloth draped over the float leaves only their white shoes visible to throngs of spectators lining the route.

The parades featuring dozens of people dressed in religious tunics and distinctive pointy hoods have returned this Holy Week after being cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic the past two years.

While religious orders started allowing women to carry floats in Spain’s famous Easter processions 30 years ago, female “costaleros” — as float bearers are known — remain a minority who still face resistance.

Women have traditionally formed the back line of the processions, playing the role of mourners dressed in stylish black dresses, embroidered veils and intricately designed hair combs.

Granada’s “Work and Light” brotherhood was among the first to allow women to carry the floats in the 1980s.

Granada’s “Work and Light” brotherhood was among the first to allow women to carry the floats in the 1980s. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)

At first “it was not accepted, women were talked bad about,” said Pilar del Carpio, a 45-year-old cashier who has been a shrine bearer since she was 13 and is proud to be one of the “pioneers”.

Today only three or four of Granada’s 30 brotherhoods, which stage the processions, include women costaleras.

“Maybe there are people who think it is not normal,” said Maria Auxiliadora Canca, a 40-year driving instructor who directs a team of float bearers in Ronda, another Andalusia city in southern Spain.

“Since our bodies are capable of doing it, and we do it with conviction, I don’t see why there should be a difference.”

‘Scandal’

But in Seville, which holds Spain’s most spectacular Easter parades, there are no women float bearers even though the city’s archbishop in 2011 issued a decree to put an end to gender-based discrimination in the city’s religious orders.

Opponents claim the task is too physically demanding, “not suitable” for women.

“It’s a scandal,” said Maribel Tortosa, 23, who manages an Instagram account called “Costaleras por Sevilla” dedicated to women float bearers.

People say that it is “ugly” to see a woman wearing a “costal”, the traditional padded sack used by bearers as protective headgear, she said.

Two female float bearers “Costaleras” of the “Trabajo y Luz” (Work and Light) brotherhood hug each other after ten arduous hours of heavy lifting. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)

“But under a float, you don’t see anything,” she added.

Still, the emergence of women float bearers reflects the growing push by women in Spain into traditionally male-dominated fields since the return of democracy in the 1970s.

Spain’s oldest police force, the Guardia Civil, has since 2020 been headed by a woman — a first in its 178-year history.

And since Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez came to power in 2018, women have taken up most cabinet posts for the first time in history.

‘Strong enough’

In Granada, locals are no longer surprised to see women training on the streets in the lead up to Holy Week by lifting and carrying a float loaded with bricks.

The load “weighs more every hour”, even though the shrine bearers are replaced every half hour during the “Work and Light” brotherhood’s procession, which began Monday at four pm and ended at around one am, said Rafael Perez, who heads the team of women shrine bearers.

Working with women “changes absolutely nothing. I just have to treat them with more tenderness,” said Perez.

Among the women of this religious order was Montse Ríos, 47, who has been a bearer since she was 19 and who still feels “strong enough to go under”.

Her eldest daughter joined her this week under the float, while her youngest is a “pipera”, giving water to the procession participants.

“And we don’t lack that,” she added.

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