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The Superstitions Italians Live By

“Fortuna”, or luck, is taken very seriously throughout Italy since it requires work when the odds are against it, and demands the right gestures and behaviors. Italian superstitions have a long history that holds deep meaning within the culture. These traditions are shaped by a mix of ancient Roman practices, Christian beliefs, and regional folklore. Passed down through generations, superstitions are an intrinsic part of Italian life, providing insight into the Italian mindset and how old-world beliefs are still embedded in society. From warding off bad luck with rituals to avoiding certain actions, these customs reflect the rich blend of history, religion, and local traditions that define Italian culture.

Evil Eye (Malocchio)

The belief in the evil eye is a widespread Italian superstition. It's thought that jealousy or envy can cause harm or misfortune to others, so people often wear amulets or charms to protect themselves from the negative effects.

Friday the 17th

In Italy, Friday the 17th is considered an unlucky day, similar to how Friday the 13th is viewed as unlucky in many other cultures. This superstition is rooted in the Roman numeral for 17 (XVII), which can be rearranged to spell "VIXI," meaning "I have lived," symbolizing death.

Sitting at the Corner of the Table

Avoid sitting at the corner of a table during a meal, as it's believed to bring bad luck. This superstition is thought to originate from the Last Supper, where Judas Iscariot sat at the corner of the table.

Spilling Salt

If you accidentally spill salt, it's considered unlucky. To counteract the bad luck, many Italians believe in tossing a pinch of salt over their left shoulder.

Whistling Indoors

Whistling indoors is believed to bring bad luck and attract evil spirits. This superstition likely originates from ancient times when whistling was associated with calling spirits.

Stirring with a Knife

It's considered bad luck to stir food with a knife in Italy. This superstition might stem from the belief that a knife is associated with cutting and division, which could symbolize discord in the household.

Leaving Shoes Upside Down

Leaving shoes upside down is thought to bring bad luck. This superstition is connected to the idea that shoes should always be in the correct position to ensure that good fortune doesn't escape.

Red Underwear on New Year's Eve

Wearing red underwear on New Year's Eve is believed to bring good luck and prosperity in the coming year.

Arianna DiCicco

Arianna DiCicco is an educator and writer from California, born into an Italian American restaurant family with strong ties to her grandparents’ home in Abruzzo, Italy. She has lived in San Francisco, Rome and New York City where she’s made deep connections within the Italian communities and gained new perspectives about her own culture. With a Masters in International Education, Arianna has a love and passion for learning and educating others about Italian history & culture.