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Puerto Rican Superstitions

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Have you ever had a shirt or some socks that you believe have always brought you luck? If you have, you would be considered a believer of superstitions. A superstition is a belief that is contrary to reason. It gives a magical explanation to different objects and occurrences that cannot be proven. You may gain many of these beliefs from your culture or your family members. These can turn into rituals that you do without having tangible proof that it will work. There are superstition about luck, weddings, death, spirits and wishes and many other things. Superstitions may vary by generations and the place.

My grandmother told me about some of her superstitions and I found that there were many that I didn’t know, although others were still popular in my generation and might be considered to be universal. My grandmother, who is 76 years old and grew up in Ponce, told me about superstitions she had heard through out her life, although I had heard of some of them others I had never known. One is that having a glass of water near the door is considered to be good because if the devil was to come looking for something to drink he would drink the water and leave without entering your house. A superstition on marriage is the throwing of rice on the newlyweds as they exit the ceremony to wish them many children. If someone sweeps a single or widow woman’s feet it is said that she will never marry, while if you put a statue of Saint Antonio upside down it will attract a husband.

Women have always been told not to put their purses on the ground because this means she will loose money. Another superstition I hadn’t heard was that if you received visitors but you wanted them to leave, you would place a broom upside down behind the door. The other superstitions I had heard about are more commonly about good and bad luck. Every year on Christmas Eve I would visit a family friend’s house and see a showcase filled with elephant figures with their back facing the door. Later I learned that this is considered to bring good luck. If their trunk is in the air it drives off bad luck and if the trunk is down it will attract money. On June 24 in Puerto Rico, we celebrate the night of Saint John where at midnight you fall on your back seven times in the water at the beach in order to get good luck. Getting wet on the first rain of May and getting pooped on by a bird are considered to bring good luck.

Some bad luck omens are: walking under a ladder and knocking over the saltshaker where in order to avoid the bad luck you must take the spilled salt and throw it over your left shoulder Some things are believed to bring wishes, for example, wishbones, fallen eyelashes and throwing pennies into a fountain. Superstition also gives some occurrences a supernatural explanation. Like when it rains with the sun shinning it is said that a witch is getting married. Some universal superstitions are the belief that rabbit foots, horseshoes and four-leaf clovers all bring good luck while breaking mirrors, the number 13, opening an umbrella indoors and a black cat crossing your path, all bring bad luck. A dog howling is believed to be because he is seeing a spirit because we don’t know another explanation for it. When we are talking about something good that happened we tend to knock on wood because we don’t want to jinx it and have bad things happen.

In weddings, it is said that if the groom sees his wife with her dress before the wedding it will bring them bad luck. One of the most common superstitions in young girls is the belief that if you see a clock at exactly 11:11 you can make a wish and it will come true. Although we may believe that superstitions aren’t true, we sometimes do one of the rituals in hopes that maybe we will gain some good luck or ward off bad luck. You may choose not to believe in any of these but there are still other things that cannot be proven true yet we still choose to believe in them.

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