Every nation has its own omens and superstitions. Today we would like to tell you about German superstitions.
Superstitions and omens are an integral part of folk folklore. Certain combinations of numbers, objects endowed with supernatural powers, “rules” about how to behave in order to attract good luck and avoid misfortune, exist in the culture of every nation. Many German superstitions are similar to common Slavic omens. For example, in Germany, as well as in Eastern European countries, they say that splinters bring good luck and happiness: “Scherben bringen Glück”, or to knock three times on a tree means to scare away evil spirits and prevent misfortune.
Some superstitions in German folklore have their roots in Christian tradition. For example, Friday is considered to be an unlucky day, while Sunday is considered to be a good day of the week. In religious tradition, Jesus Christ died on Friday and rose on Sunday. In Germany there is a saying “Wer am Freitag viel lacht, hat am Sonntag Grund zum Weinen”: “whoever laughs a lot on Friday will have reason to cry on Sunday”.
Other omens, however, are based on a historical tradition that has its roots in the everyday life and ways of life in medieval Europe. For example, in modern Germany it is considered impolite to point a finger at another person. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that pointing a finger at another person could curse him, take away his strength and bring misfortune upon him. Salt was considered very strong in the Middle Ages. It symbolized protection, happiness and wealth. Therefore, to spill salt means to bring misfortune on yourself. It is customary to give bread and salt to newlyweds or on the occasion of moving into a new house, to attract good luck and prosperity.
We have collected for you some interesting superstitions from German folklore. However, before we do, we would like to give you a couple of German words related to the subject of ‘superstition’.
Aberglaube is a superstition.
Omen – an omen, an omen, a harbinger.
Glück – good luck, happiness, success.
Glücksbringer – all things that bring good fortune.
Unglück – failure, misfortune.
Pech – failure, bad luck.
Pechbringer – all that prophesies failure.
Deutsche Aberglauben: German superstitions
“Wer das Essen versalzt, ist verliebt”: he who over-salted his food is in love.
Bird droppings on the head or shoulder are a harbinger of good fortune.
Pigs (Schweine) in Germany are a symbol of good fortune, prosperity and wealth. In the Middle Ages, having a large herd of pigs was considered a sign of wealth. Today, keeping money in a piggy bank (Sparschwein) means increasing one’s capital. And in colloquial German, the expression “Schwein gehabt! (literal translation: “got a pig”), which means that you are extremely lucky.
It is believed that a visit from a chimney sweep (Schornsteinfeger) or a chance encounter with one in the street will bring good luck. Porcelain chimney sweep figurines are good luck charms.
Ladybugs (Marienkäfer) bring good luck and good fortune. To kill or chase away a ladybird that sits on your palm means to chase away happiness and good luck, to attract bad luck.
Swallows are not only harbingers of spring, but also prophets of happiness and fertility.
To see a rainbow in the sky is a good omen that bodes well for happiness.
Do not put a bag with money on the floor, otherwise money will cease to be found.
“Toi, toi, toi!” is a good luck wish.
Money should not be counted, otherwise there will be less of it.
You should not talk loudly and much, boast of your own happiness and well-being. It is possible to bring misfortune on oneself.
The four-leaf clover (Glücksklee) will bring good fortune to those who find it by chance.
There is a superstition that if the bride wears a pearl necklace on her wedding day (each pearl symbolizes one tear), or if the groom drives himself, it foretells bad luck.
If the bride wears shoes that she received as a gift on her wedding day, she may run away from her husband soon after the wedding.
If a bride laughs a lot on her wedding day, she is destined to cry a lot during her married life.
The tradition of sprinkling rice on the newlyweds is a “rite” for attracting fertility to the family, for the birth of children.