Skip to main content

7 Lesser-Known Superstitions and Their Meanings

Cindy is an author and paranormal enthusiast who has published numerous books and articles on the subject of true unexplained phenomena.


1. An Itchy Nose Means Someone Unexpected Is Coming

This first offering, in all of its forms, is one of my mother's favorites. Growing up, the number of occurrences that were thought to predict the arrival of an unexpected guest were truly mind-boggling.

For most people, an itchy nose signals an oncoming allergy attack or a reaction to dust or some other irritant. For those whose feet are firmly planted in the world of superstitions, a sudden tickling sensation in one's nose is a sure sign that company will be arriving at any minute.

Supposedly, if only the right nostril is affected, the visitor will be female; if the itching manifests on the left, then the guest will be male. If both sides are equally afflicted, expect a combination of the two.

Acts of clumsiness are also known to precede the arrival of an unexpected caller. For instance, if you happen to drop a dish towel, be prepared for company to show up at any minute. More often than not, the visitor will be someone whose cleaning skills are questionable at best. The fact that the dish towel made contact with the floor is a warning that a less-than-hygienic individual is headed your way.

If a plate slips out of someone's hand while they are seated at the dinner table, the host or hostess would do well to have an extra place setting at the ready. To let a plate of food fall from one's hand is to announce to the powers that be that there is plenty to spare. Sensing this, a hungry guest with a taste for home cooking will soon be knocking on the door. It is also believed that dropping a fork or spoon will yield similar results. So, unless you're prepared to share, hold on tight to your eating utensils.


2. Ringing Ears: Are People Talking About You?

Tinnitus is a medical condition in which the sufferer's ears ring for a variety of reasons. In the land of superstitions, this nuisance has an explanation that some might view as bordering on paranoia.

Purportedly, if our ears start to buzz for no apparent reason it means that we are, at that very moment, the topic of someone's conversation. While this probably occurs more often than we would like to believe, if what's being said is positive, our ears can't detect it and stay quiet. If, however, the utterings are malicious in nature, our auditory senses come alive. Able to detect the activity from afar, our ears ring loudly in an effort to drown out the unkind words being spoken.

Conversely, if our ears suddenly feel warm for no apparent reason, someone is speaking of us in glowing terms. Sensing this, they tingle as a way of letting us know that someone, somewhere, thinks that we are the bee's knees.

Withered flowers can signify the presence of evil nearby.

Withered flowers can signify the presence of evil nearby.

3. Withered Flowers Signal Evil Is Near

This is one that was popular with my extended family. The subject usually came up when flowers that were growing in the yard, or on rare occasions, those purchased from a shop, began to wilt prematurely.

While most people would take this as an indication that the flowers had fallen victim to some form of blight, my relatives instantly jumped to the conclusion that a bad soul was nearby. According to them, trees, flowers and even grass could sense the presence of evil and withered in its wake.

Although the malevolent force that had caused the flowers to shed their petals and die was never identified, the thought was spooky enough to keep us jumping at our own shadows for days to come. It was only when healthy flowers began to bloom that it was assumed that the storm had passed.

4. One Foot in the Grave

To have one foot in the grave normally means to be nearing the end of one's days due to illness or old age. While it did so in my family as well, it also had another connotation that was a bit more disturbing.

It isn't unusual to be walking through a field, or even on one's own lawn, and inadvertently step in a hole that has been strategically placed by a burrowing animal of some sort. When this occurs, a twisted ankle, often accompanied by a bruised ego, is usually the worst that can happen.

In some circles, including my own, such an act instantly subtracts a year from your life expectancy. The twisted logic behind this is that, when your foot has been underground, however unintentionally, you have hastened the process of death. In the eyes of fate, it would seem, a foot in the earth moves you one step closer to a foot in the grave.

Being able to peel an apple might give you some early insight into who it is you will marry.

Being able to peel an apple might give you some early insight into who it is you will marry.

5. Apple Peels as Signs of Your Future Partner

This bit of folklore is somewhat sweet, much like the subject itself, though it involves not the flesh of the apple, but its insightful outer covering.

As the story goes, if a single maiden (sorry guys, for whatever reason this works only for those of the female persuasion) is able to pare an apple in one continuous strip, she will be given a clue as to the identity of the man she will someday marry.

Anyone who has ever peeled an apple, or any fruit for that matter, knows how difficult it is to do so without hacking it to pieces. If however, a woman possesses the dexterity needed to accomplish this feat, she will be rewarded for her efforts.

Once the deed is done, the skilled damsel must then turn around three times and toss the peeling onto a flat surface. The cursive letter that it most resembles will be the first initial of her future beau's forename. If, however, no letter can be deciphered, the hopeful lover will remain forever single. While succulent, apples, as history has proven, can be merciless.


6. Leave the Way You Came

There are those who believe, especially in parts of Western Europe, that visitors to a home or establishment of any kind must leave by the same door from which they entered. To do otherwise is just asking for trouble.

The theory behind this is that the eyes of fate monitor us as we meander our way through life. The mystical guardians charged with watching our comings and goings do so without our ever being the wiser. They do not, however, babysit us every second of the day.

When we vanish through a doorway, these watchers assume that we will re-emerge at a later point. Those who take it upon themselves to leave, let's say, through a back door, have effectively slipped through the hands of fate. With no one there to protect them, their downward spiral begins.

The repercussions of this innocent act are said to be swift and unforgiving. Financial ruin is often right around the corner. Relationships, however solid, turn sour. The physical and emotional health of the unfortunate party begin to suffer as a result of their being left to fend for themselves in the world.

To right this wrong, the person on whom the hammer of the gods has fallen must return to the place where their troubles began and retrace their steps. On this occasion, they must enter through the door from which they previously exited.

When the time comes to say their goodbyes, it is imperative that they leave through the front entrance where their protector waits patiently on the other side. Since they have no sense of lost time, fate's minions pick up where they left off and everything returns to normal.

So, the next time someone admonishes you to leave the way you came, don't take offence. Perhaps, knowing that one's fortunes can turn on a dime, they are simply looking out for your well-being.


7. Lucky Rabbit's Foot

Rabbits have long-been thought to possess special powers, due in part to their penchant for sheltering beneath the earth's surface for extended periods. Although they aren't the animal kingdom's only underground dwellers, something about this highly intelligent creature made them the center of a superstition that would be laughable were it not so gruesome.

Although its exact origins are sketchy, the practice of lopping off the foot of a bunny for good luck is thought to have its roots in ancient Celtic culture. What is known is that, long ago, someone came up with the misguided notion that because these mammals spent so much time in close proximity to the netherworld with no repercussions, their lives were somehow charmed. Even more surprising is that scores of others agreed.

Hoping that this good fortune would rub off on them, these ne'er do wells began slaughtering rabbits, most often in cemeteries and churchyards. They would then remove a body part, usually the left hind foot, to keep on hand as a lucky charm. It seems that even these unsavory characters weren't too keen on lugging the entire carcass around while waiting for prosperity to rain down upon them.

Whether this has ever worked for anyone is doubtful, but there are still those today who carry a rabbit's foot for good luck. Of course, if they would take time to think it through, they would realize that the severed appendage is anything but lucky. Just ask the rabbit.