Uncovering What Things Symbolize Bad Luck – Superstitions and Folklore

Have you ever found yourself tip-toeing around objects or certain actions, afraid that they’ll bring bad luck? If so, you’re definitely not alone. Many cultures have their own set of superstitions that dictate what things symbolize bad luck. From broken mirrors to black cats, our daily lives can be filled with these lurking omens.

In Western cultures, Friday the 13th is notorious for being an unlucky day. But did you know that in Chinese culture, the number four is associated with bad luck? That’s because the Chinese word for “four” sounds very similar to the word for “death.” Similarly, walking under a ladder is thought to bring misfortune in Western cultures, while the number 13 is unlucky in some Eastern cultures.

But it’s not just objects that can symbolize bad luck. In some cultures, certain actions can be seen as bad omens. For example, in Russian culture, whistling indoors is thought to bring financial problems. And if you’re ever in Thailand, make sure you don’t point your feet at someone – it’s considered rude and can bring bad luck. It’s fascinating to see how widespread these superstitions are, proving that these beliefs are ingrained in human culture.

Black Cats

In many cultures, black cats have been a symbol of bad luck for centuries. This superstition may have originated in Europe during the Middle Ages, when black cats were associated with witchcraft and Satanism. Some people believed that witches could shape-shift into the form of a black cat, which led to the belief that black cats were evil and brought bad luck.

This superstition has persisted to this day, with some people actively avoiding black cats or even harming them. In fact, some animal shelters refuse to adopt out black cats during the Halloween season out of fear of them being used for rituals or harm. This is despite statistics showing that black cats are actually less likely to be adopted than other colors.

  • In Japan, black cats are considered lucky and are believed to bring good fortune to their owners.
  • In Scotland and England, a black cat appearing at your doorstep is a sign of good luck and prosperity.
  • In ancient Egypt, cats were worshipped and revered, and it is said that killing a cat, even accidentally, was punishable by death. Black cats were seen as particularly lucky and were believed to bring wealth and good fortune.

Despite these positive beliefs about black cats, the negative superstition persists in many parts of the world. This has led to a decrease in adoptions of black cats, and even some instances of abuse or harm towards them. It is important to remember that a cat’s color has no bearing on their personality or behavior, and that black cats are just as deserving of love and care as any other cat.

Country Superstition
United States Black cats are a symbol of bad luck, especially during Halloween.
France Black cats are believed to bring bad luck if they cross your path.
Italy A black cat crossing your path is considered lucky.
Russia Black cats are believed to bring good luck and prosperity.

It’s important to remember that superstitions surrounding black cats have no basis in fact, and that these animals deserve our love and care just like any other pet. If you’re considering adopting a cat, don’t let their color influence your decision. Black cats can make wonderful companions who bring joy and love into our lives.

Broken Mirrors

Breaking a mirror is known to bring seven years of bad luck. This superstition dates back to the ancient Romans, who believed that mirrors had the power to reflect a person’s soul and health. They also believed that if a mirror was broken, it would shatter the soul that it reflected and bring bad luck upon the person who broke it.

  • It is said that in some cultures, if a mirror breaks, all the pieces must be immediately gathered and buried in the ground to avoid bad luck.
  • Some people also believe that looking at a broken mirror can cause harm and bring misfortune.
  • Others believe that a broken mirror can be a sign of impending death or illness in the family.

However, there are some who do not believe in this superstition and consider it merely a myth. They argue that the belief is not based on any scientific evidence and that it is just a product of fear and old wives’ tales.

Nevertheless, breaking a mirror is not only bad luck but can also be dangerous. The shattered pieces can cause harm and injury to those who are present. In addition, it can also be expensive to replace a broken mirror, especially if it is a large or custom-made one.

Symbolism of Broken Mirrors in Various Cultures Meaning
Chinese Breaking a mirror is considered a bad omen that brings seven years of bad luck.
Greek Breaking a mirror is believed to bring seven years of misfortune because it takes seven years for a person’s life to renew itself.
Italian Breaking a mirror is thought to bring seven years of bad luck because it takes seven years for a person’s luck to renew itself.

In conclusion, while the superstition of broken mirrors and bad luck may not be based on any scientific evidence, it still holds a significant place in various cultures. It is always better to take precautions and avoid breaking mirrors to prevent any harm or injury.

Walking under ladders

Walking under ladders is a superstition that is believed to bring bad luck. It dates back to ancient Egypt and the symbol of a triangle, which is formed by a leaning ladder against a wall, was considered sacred. This symbol was associated with the holy trinity, and if someone walked under the ladder, they would break the triangle and violate the sacred nature of the symbol.

Throughout history, ladders have also been seen as a symbol of the gallows, and walking under a ladder is thought to bring the same bad luck as walking to the hangman’s noose. Additionally, in Christian tradition, a ladder represents Jacob’s Ladder, which connected Heaven and Earth. Walking under it meant severing the connection with God and breaking the bridge that linked the two worlds.

  • It’s believed that walking under a ladder invites misfortune into your life.
  • If you walk under a ladder, you may find that you have bad days at work or the projects you work on don’t go as expected
  • People who break this superstition are also believed to bring bad luck to those around them, so even if they don’t believe it, they may affect others

Some people also associate walking under a ladder with the number three. The number three is regarded as the number of the Holy Trinity, and as mentioned earlier, the triangle formed by the ladder against the wall is sacred in many cultures. If you break that triangle by walking under the ladder, you’re also breaking the sacred number three.

Superstition Country of origin
Walking under a ladder International

In conclusion, walking under a ladder is a superstition that is believed to bring bad luck. Since it’s so easy to avoid, why not steer clear of it? It’s best to take the safe route and walk around the ladder rather than under it.

Spilling Salt

Spilling salt is one of the most common superstitions of bad luck. The notion that spilling salt brings bad luck is thought to have originated from ancient times when salt was an expensive commodity and the spilling of it was seen as wasting a valuable resource. Additionally, salt was used in many religious ceremonies and was believed to possess purifying and protective qualities, making its wastage a bad omen.

  • One way to ward off the bad luck associated with spilling salt is to throw a pinch of it over your left shoulder, which some believe will blind the devil lurking behind you who caused the spill in the first place.
  • If you do spill salt, it may also be considered bad luck to clean it up with a cloth or napkin. Instead, it is believed that you should use your bare hands and then wash them immediately afterward to cleanse the bad luck from your fingers.
  • Another superstition is to avoid passing salt directly from hand to hand. Instead, it is recommended to place it on the table first, allowing the other person to pick it up themselves.

The superstition around spilling salt is so ingrained in some cultures that restaurants and cafes will often place salt shakers on their tables with only one hole, making it harder for customers to accidentally spill the salt. Some people even go as far as to keep a small dish of salt on their windowsill to appease any bad luck that may come their way.

Despite its roots in ancient history, the superstition of spilling salt and the ensuing bad luck remains prevalent in modern times, proving that some traditions never truly die out.

Opening an Umbrella Indoors

Opening an umbrella indoors is considered a taboo in many cultures around the world. This act is believed to bring bad luck and misfortune to the person who opened the umbrella as well as those around them. The origin of this superstition is not known for certain, but there are various theories as to how it came about. One popular belief is that the superstition started in ancient Egypt, where umbrellas were used as protection from the sun. It was believed that opening an umbrella indoors would offend the gods of the sun, thus bringing about bad luck.

  • One explanation for the bad luck associated with opening an umbrella indoors is that it is seen as an act of defiance against the natural elements. Umbrellas are meant to be used outside in the rain, and opening them indoors is seen as going against nature.
  • Another theory is that when umbrellas were first introduced in the west, they were large and cumbersome. Opening one indoors could result in knocking over and breaking items in the house, leading to the belief that it was bad luck to do so.
  • Finally, some people believe that opening an umbrella indoors is bad luck simply because it has been passed down through generations and has become ingrained in our cultural beliefs and superstitions.

While the belief that opening an umbrella indoors is bad luck may seem silly to some, it is important to respect cultural beliefs and superstitions. Whether or not you believe in the superstition, it is always best to err on the side of caution and avoid opening an umbrella indoors.

Country Belief
United States Opening an umbrella indoors is bad luck and can bring about misfortune.
Japan Opening an umbrella indoors can bring about bad luck.
India Opening an umbrella indoors is believed to bring about financial troubles.

In summary, opening an umbrella indoors is considered to be a symbol of bad luck in many cultures around the world. While the origins of this superstition are not known for certain, it is important to respect cultural beliefs and avoid opening umbrellas indoors.

A Crow Cawing Thrice

Throughout history, birds have been believed to represent messages from the divine, including both good and bad news. According to Norse mythology, crows were believed to be a symbol of death, and in many cultures, they represent bad luck. If you hear a crow cawing thrice, it could be a sign that something negative is about to occur.

Symbols of Bad Luck: The Number 6

The number 6 has been associated with bad luck in various cultures throughout history, including China, where it is thought to represent the sound of “flowing away” in Chinese, making it an unlucky number. In Western cultures, the number six represents incompleteness or imperfection, as it falls one number short of the “perfect” number 7. There are several superstitions related to the number 6 that symbolize bad luck. These include:

  • Breaking a mirror and receiving 6 years of bad luck.
  • Lighting six candles in a row and causing a death in the family.
  • Receiving a gift of six flowers, which is supposed to bring bad luck to the recipient.

The Meaning of Crow Cawing Thrice and Other Superstitions

Superstitions are deeply ingrained in human culture and have been around for thousands of years. Many superstitions are based on folklore or religious beliefs, while others are rooted in a desire to protect oneself from harm or to ensure good luck. The superstition surrounding the sound of a crow cawing thrice is one example of how people try to make sense of the world around them and protect themselves from bad luck.

Below is a table with some other common superstitions and their meanings:

Superstition Meaning
Knocking on wood Protecting oneself from the evil eye.
Breaking a mirror Seven years of bad luck.
Black cats crossing your path Bad luck or misfortune is coming.
Walking under a ladder Bringing bad luck to oneself.

While there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that these superstitions are true, they remain popular in many cultures and are often passed down through generations as a way to ward off bad luck.

Seeing the Number 13

Many people associate the number 13 with bad luck, with some considering it to be the most unlucky number of all. The origins of this superstition are unclear, but it is believed to have its roots in biblical and mythological events. For instance, the Last Supper had 13 guests, and one of the guests, Judas, betrayed Jesus. In Norse mythology, there were 12 gods who were having a party when Loki, the god of mischief and strife, showed up uninvited, making 13 gods in total, which led to chaos.

  • The fear of 13 is known as triskaidekaphobia, a term derived from Greek “tris” (meaning “three”), “kai” (meaning “and”), and “deka” (meaning “ten”).
  • In many buildings, the 13th floor is skipped in numbering, with the 12th floor followed by the 14th floor, although the actual 13th floor is still operational and exists physically.
  • Friday the 13th is considered to be a particularly unlucky day, which occurs when the 13th day of a month falls on a Friday. This superstition has led to reduced traffic flow and commerce, with many people choosing not to travel or conduct business on this day.

Despite the negative connotations associated with the number 13, some people have adopted it as a lucky number or dismissed the superstition altogether. In fact, many celebrities and successful people have the number 13 associated with their identity and achievements. For example, Taylor Swift was born on the 13th of December, and her lucky number is 13.

Reasons why the number 13 is considered unlucky Reasons why the number 13 is considered lucky
13 guests at the Last Supper, with Judas betraying Jesus Some hotels offer discounted rates for guests staying on the 13th floor, making it a lucky number for bargain hunters
The Knights Templar, a medieval Christian military order, were arrested on Friday the 13th in 1307 There are 13 stages of spiritual enlightenment in Buddhism
In ancient Rome, witches were said to gather in groups of 12, with the 13th witch being the devil In Italy, 13 is considered a lucky number, particularly when it comes to gambling

In conclusion, the symbolism of the number 13 as unlucky or lucky varies across cultures and individuals. While some people unequivocally associate it with bad luck, others have defied this superstition and made the number 13 a source of strength and inspiration.

What Symbolizes Bad Luck: Stepping on Sidewalk Cracks

Stepping on sidewalk cracks might seem like a harmless action, but for some, it symbolizes bad luck. Here are some possible reasons why:

  • Superstition: Some people believe that stepping on a crack will break your mother’s back. This old superstition dates back to the early 20th century, but its origin is unknown. Despite not having scientific evidence, this belief is still widespread today.
  • Numerology: In numerology, the number 8 symbolizes balance, harmony, and good luck. However, when you break it down to two equal parts, it becomes two zeroes, which people believe brings bad luck. Since stepping on sidewalk cracks can sometimes create such a division, it’s believed to bring misfortune.
  • Pavement damage: Although not necessarily related to bad luck, stepping on sidewalk cracks can cause the pavement to deteriorate and a pothole to form, which can be hazardous to pedestrians and drivers alike.

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. If you’re superstitious or believe in the power of numerology, avoiding sidewalk cracks might bring some peace of mind. It’s also a good idea to be mindful of pavement hazards and report them to your local authorities immediately to prevent accidents.


While stepping on sidewalk cracks may not necessarily bring bad luck, people’s beliefs and superstitions over time have turned this seemingly harmless act into a symbol of misfortune. Whether you believe in it or not, it is always best to exercise caution and be mindful of your surroundings to avoid any hazards.

Pros Cons
Can avoid creating a hazard on the pavement Belief in superstitions can cause unnecessary anxiety
Avoiding cracks can bring peace of mind to some Not stepping on cracks could disrupt a walking pattern or stride

Ultimately, whether you choose to mind the cracks or not, it’s a matter of personal belief and preference. Just be sure to prioritize your safety and that of others around you while walking on the sidewalk.

Red and white flowers together

The combination of red and white flowers is seen as bad luck in some cultures, including those in Eastern Asia. This combination is often used in funerals, as red is associated with happiness and white is associated with mourning. This clash of meanings can be seen as a bad omen, as it symbolizes a life cut short or a premature end to happiness.

The Number 9

The number 9 is often seen as a symbol of bad luck in some cultures. In Chinese culture, the word for “nine” sounds similar to the word for “pain” or “suffering”. This association with negativity has led to the number 9 being avoided in various situations. For example, buildings in East Asia often do not have a 9th floor, and numbers that contain a 9 are avoided when choosing phone numbers and license plates.

  • In Norse mythology, nine was seen as the number of doom and destruction, with Odin being sacrificed to himself for nine nights on the World Tree.
  • In Christian numerology, the number 666 is often associated with bad luck or evil. Interestingly, if you add up all the numbers from 1 to 36, the total is 666.
  • In Japanese culture, the numbers 4 and 9 are considered unlucky because they sound like the words for “death” and “suffering”, respectively.

The Color Black

In many Western cultures, the color black is associated with death, mourning, and evil. This association with negativity has led to the color being avoided in many situations. For example, it is considered bad luck to wear black to a wedding or other joyous occasion.

However, in some cultures, black is seen as a symbol of power, sophistication, and strength. For example, in China and Japan, black is a common color for business attire.

Symbolism in Numbers and Colors in Different Cultures

The symbolism of numbers and colors varies greatly across different cultures, and it’s important to be aware of these differences when traveling or doing business internationally. For example, the color red is associated with luck and prosperity in China, while in Western cultures it can be associated with danger or warning.

Culture Number 4 Number 9 Color Black
China Avoided because it sounds like the word for “death” Avoided because it sounds like the word for “suffering” Symbol of prosperity and success
Japan Avoided because it sounds like the word for “death” Avoided because it sounds like the word for “suffering” Symbol of elegance and formality
Western cultures No specific symbolism Associated with bad luck or evil Associated with death or mourning

By understanding the symbolism of numbers and colors in different cultures, you can avoid unintentionally offending someone or causing bad luck.

Whistling at Night

Whistling at night has been considered a bad luck symbol for centuries in various cultures. It is believed that whistling at night can attract evil spirits, ghosts, or bad luck. This belief is particularly strong in the Philippines, where it is believed that whistling at night can cause snakes to enter one’s home.

  • In some cultures, it is believed that whistling at night can call for death or misfortune.
  • Whistling was also considered a taboo during ancient times. It was believed to be a call for the spirits and gods.
  • In some places, people believe that whistling at night can attract thieves or robbers to the area.

However, in some parts of the world like Russia, whistling at night is seen as a good omen. It is believed that whistling can scare away evil spirits and bring in good luck.

Despite the fact that whistling at night is believed to bring bad luck, there is no scientific evidence to support this belief. It can be said that it is just a superstition passed down through the generations.

Country/Culture Belief About Whistling at Night
Philippines It can attract snakes to one’s home.
Russia It can scare away evil spirits and bring good luck.
USA It is just a superstition with no scientific evidence.

It is always better to be on the safe side and avoid whistling at night, especially if it is a cultural taboo in your area. However, if you do happen to whistle at night by accident, don’t worry too much. Just remind yourself that it is a superstition and go about your day positively.

That’s Just Superstitious

And there you have it, folks! A rundown of what things people commonly believe to symbolize bad luck. Of course, it’s important to remember that these superstitions are just that – beliefs without any scientific basis. In the end, luck is what you make of it. So whether you’re crossing your fingers, tossing salt over your shoulder, or simply ignoring superstitions altogether, we hope you found this article to be both informative and entertaining. Thanks for reading, and come back soon for more fun facts!