Sweden's news in English

Editions:  Europe · Austria · Denmark · France · Germany · Italy · Norway · Spain · Sweden · Switzerland

Cats, buttocks and keys: 13 of the unluckiest Swedish superstitions

Share this article

Cats, buttocks and keys: 13 of the unluckiest Swedish superstitions
Yikes. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT
11:30 CET+01:00
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

Cats can be psychotic creatures. If a black 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.

If a black cat is about, beware. Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

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.

You only have to say the word pepper, but here's a picture of black pepper for good measure. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

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.

Being on a ladder is fine. Photo: AP Photo/Michael Probst

4. Prosit…

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

Bless you! Gesundheit! Prosit! Photo: Erik Nylander/TT

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.

Don't kill her! Photo: Vegard Wivestad Grøtt/NTB scanpix/TT

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?

Oh no! Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

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.

Beware! Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

8. Don't put your keys on the table

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

Don't put your keys on the table. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

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.

He was aiming for his backside. Photo: AP Photo/Rui Vieira

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. 

Avoid like the plague. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

11. Don't compare hand size

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

We know what they're thinking. Mine are bigger than yours. Photo: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

12. Don't kill a spider

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

Well, you know what to blame. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

13. Don't bring heather into the house

It means death, which is never a good thing.

As long as it stays outside. Photo: Bezav Mahmod/SvD/TT

READ MORE: Check out what some of our other countries, for example France and Spain, get superstitious about.

Get notified about breaking news on The Local

Share this article

The Local is not responsible for content posted by users.
Ramas - 13 Jul 2018 14:15
And unfortunately today starting a new moon...
Become a Member or sign-in to leave a comment.

From our sponsors

New Malmö museum will focus on ‘democracy and migration’

Change starts with one small step, whether it be a large or small scale project, it all requires movement. It’s a logic that can be applied to starting a new national museum from scratch, especially one with an innovative theme that is going to take several years to come to fruition.