Greece: Greek Superstitions

| by G. Papas | February 27, 2008
No matter what culture you belong to, you have superstitions. Greece, being an old, old culture, has many. For instance, if you sneeze, somebody is talking about you. At least that's what an old Greek superstition teaches. If you don't know who it is, you may try to figure out by listing names. If saying one name stops the sneezing, then that is who is talking about you. If that doesn't work, ask someone for a three digit number (three for the Holy Trinity).
Add the numbers. If the number is higher than the number of letters in the alphabet - 24 in Greek, 26 in English, add the digits. Using the resulting number and counting such that A or a is 1, B or b is 2, etc., find the letter indicated by the number. This will be the first initial of the person talking about you. And if you don't know who is talking about you, spit three times on your chest to avoid the Evil Eye.
An itchy hand foretells that you will be receiving or giving money. If you're right hand is itchy, you will get money. If you're left hand is itchy, you will give money. If both hands are itchy then you will both give and receive money. The right hand is luckier then the left hand, and so you receive with the right and give with the left. Roots of favoring the right side can be seen in the Orthodox church, where the Son of God sits to the right of the father.
Greeks spit to ward off evil. Upon hearing any bad news, a Greek may spit on them self three times to stop the possibility of anything bad happening to them. They don't actually spit on themselves. They say "Ptew, Ptew, Ptew." Very little spit is actually produced. Some people who practice this may raise their shirt and spit between their clothes towards their chest. Greek fishermen spit into their nets to allow for a good catch.
If someone compliments a Greek, to avoid the Evil Eye they may spit onto themselves, and may say to the person "Ptew, Ptew mi me matiasis", which basically says, "I'm spitting on myself so that you do not cause the Evil Eye to come upon me." Spitting is believed to be very effective against The Evil Eye. Priests may even spit in the Greek Orthodox church. During Baptism, the priest will blow into the air three times to glorify the Trinity, and spit into the ground three times at the devil. The practice of spitting three times is believed to come from this.
The Evil Eye is the most famous of all Greek superstitions, with roots from the time of paganism. Paintings created over two thousand years ago have an eye painted at the front to ward off the Evil Eye. The Evil Eye is known widely throughout Greece and the Greek Islands. Think back to when someone complimented you, and then you developed a painful headache. This is the Evil Eye. To ward off the Evil Eye, an eye can be painted on a blue charm. Or blue beads can be worn, as a necklace or bracelet. The color blue and the painted eye are thought to ward off the Evil of the Eye.
A clove of garlic can also protect wearers. Many people keep garlic in their pockets. Garlic is believed to ward off demons and evil spirits, who are believed to fear it. One response to a compliment, especially coming from a blue-eyed person, is for a Greek to spit, to ward off potential evil. The Greek Orthodox Church believes in the Evil Eye, referring to it as "Vaskania". There are people know how to remove the eye from someone who is affected, which is forbidden by the church.
In Greek superstition salt has great purifying powers and can be used to ward off demons and evil spirits, simply by throwing it over your left shoulder. New houses can be purified by sprinkling salt to remove any demons or lurking evil spirits. Salt is also used to remove unwanted guests. Salt can either be sprinkled on their chair or thrown behind them. But if a guest sees, the power of the salt is weakened.
Another superstition is that salt should be covered at night. If the moon or the stars shine upon the salt, whoever carries it will develop warts or a rash on their body.

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