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Feeling unlucky? 13 Swedish superstitions to beware of

The Local Sweden
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Feeling unlucky? 13 Swedish superstitions to beware of
Watch out! Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

Friday 13th means bad luck in Sweden and plenty of other places. Of course you are far too sensible to believe in any of that, but if you do, here are another 13 (sorry) things you need to watch out for.


1. Spit three times if a black cat crosses your path

Just like elsewhere, black cats are harbingers of bad luck in Sweden. If one crosses a Swede's path, you may see him or her spit three times over their left shoulder in order to ward off evil spirits. Best to duck and cover.

2. Peppar, peppar, ta i trä

Just like many other nationalities, to prevent something nasty from happening, Swedes knock on wood while reciting "peppar, peppar, ta i trä" so they're not jinxed. Pepper, pepper, touch wood.

3. Don't walk under a ladder

This leads to three weeks of bad luck. Ladders are known for being risky at the best of times, and walking under them leads to more risks. We're not so sure, but avoid it just in case.

4. Prosit…

… is what you say in Swedish when someone sneezes. It is actually Latin and means "may it be beneficial".

5. Save the tomte!

A more modern superstition is that if you say "thank you" when someone says "prosit", a tomte (a little gnome in Swedish folklore) dies. But if you quickly clap your hands, he lives. Phew.


6. Spilling salt

Spilling salt gives bad luck. If you do, you have to pick up a pinch of the spilled salt and throw it over your shoulder. Good thing there's a way to stop all this bad luck from happening, isn't it?

7. Don't open an umbrella indoors

This spells serious bad luck, and not only for the person standing next to you getting poked in the eye.

8. Don't put your keys on the table

If you put something under the keys, like a book, we think you're OK. But we're no experts.

9. Don't wish someone good luck

In English, you tell someone to "break a leg". In Sweden, you give them a gentle kick to the buttocks.

10. Don't step on an 'A-brunn'

If you see a manhole cover marked with an A, don't step on it or you may attract all the misfortunes that start with an A. If you do, just get someone to knock three times on your back and the bad luck will go away. 

11. Don't compare hand size

We suspect this is allegedly small-fingered former US president Donald Trump's favourite superstition.

12. Don't kill a spider

Because if you do, it will rain the following day.

13. Don't bring heather into the house

It means death, which is never a good thing.


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[email protected] 2020/11/13 20:21
Keys on the table isn’t bad luck. It is an indication that you are available – as a prostitute with your own room...
[email protected] 2020/11/13 15:53
Trying to compare to Italy ...<br /><br />1. The same but without the 3 spits :-)<br />2. Leaving out the pepper, we say 'tocca ferro! (touch iron!). Don't know if with same 'meaning'<br />3. / 6. / 7. The same<br />4. After a 'starnuto' (sneeze) we say 'salute!' (the same as prosit!)<br />5. After a 'salute!' we normally say 'grazie!' (thank you), without killing anyone in the wonderful world of little creatures! :-)<br />8. Never heard in Italy. Maybe similar thing is 'mai appoggiare un cappello sul letto' ("never leave a 'hat on the bed'")<br />9. We say 'in bocca al lupo!' (in the wolf's mouth!) and the other normally replies 'crepi il lupo!' (die the wolf!). I you are animals' friend, you counter-reply 'viva il lupo! (long live the wolf!)<br />10. Very funny. Never heard something similar in Italy<br />11. Don't know if similar 'meaning', but sometime in Italy someone compares ear size<br />12. Never heard in Italy. Anyway, please let the spider live! :-)<br />13. Never heard in Italy. But we say 'civetta alla finestra morte o sfortuna in arrivo' (owl at the window means death or bad luck on the way)<br /><br />Cheers. LoryPanna
[email protected] 2018/07/13 14:15
And unfortunately today starting a new moon...

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