Everbrite's Russia, Belarus and Ukraine Pages

Belarus Info

Russia General Info

Russian Consulate Information:
A to F
G to J
K to South Africa
Spain to Z

Obtaining a Russian Visa

Money and Other Tips

Tidbits for Tourists:
A to I
K to Z

Rulers of Russia:
From the Beginning to the Time of Troubles
From the Romanovs to Revolution
From Soviet Times to the present

Russia Regional Information:
Irkutsk/Lake Baikal

Moscow Metro Tour

Central Moscow Tour- in four parts with map:
Part 1 Stops 1 through 13. Marriott Royal/Hotel Budapest to Manezh Ploshchad
Part 2 Stops 14 though 22. Around Manezh Ploshchad
Part 3 Stops 23 though 44. Along Tverskaya Street to the area around Pushkin Square
Part 4 Stops 45 though 48. From Pushkinskaya Ploshchad to Upper St. Peter's Monastery and back

Travel in Russia planes, trains and automobiles

Trans-Siberian Trains
Trans-Siberian Trains general information to get you started on your journey
Trans-Siberian Stops information about common stops along the way
Notes about Chinese Consulates some informataion about Chinese consulates

Russian Language and Culture
The Alphabet
Books, Tapes and other Resources
Basic Words

Ukraine Info


Russian Superstitions

Babies and Pregnancy
  • One of the oldest superstitions in Russia is to avoid sitting on a cold surface. Sitting on a cold surface was widely believed to cause fertility issues for women.
  • Traditionally, Russian women did not show a newborn baby to anyone other than the father for the first month after the baby's birth; this is considered very outdated.
  • Things bought for a newborn baby (such as clothes, toys, furniture, etc.) should only be purchased after the baby is born.
  • It is considered bad luck to comment that a baby is cute; this could cause the baby to become ugly.
  • Pregnant woman should not cut their hair, sew or knit during pregnancy to help protect their child during pregnancy. The weakness of hair connects with a biblical message linked to Samson, although both scissors as well as knitting needles both exist as sharp, potentially dangerous objects.
  • It is a bad omen to give a baby the same name as his father, brother, grandparent or any other relative living in the same house. Each person has his own guarding angel and if there are two people having the same name and sharing the same house, the guardian angel might have difficulty taking care of both of them.
  • D not cut a baby's hair until he is 1 year old. Hairy creatures are healthier, happier, and richer then the others. Cutting off the hair means taking away all the future good luck.
  • Do not rock an empty cradle as there will be no room for the baby when it comes.
  • Pregnant women should not darn, mend or patch clothing. Otherwise a baby might have a patch (birthmark) on its cheek when it is born or his way to the world might get "stitched up".
  • The expected date of delivery should not be shared with others, even close relatives to prevent the evil eye from appearing.
Birthdays and Gifts
  • A purse (or any other money holder) as a gift requires a little money inside. Given empty it causes bad financial luck.
  • It is considered bad luck to celebrate someone's birthday before the date, but acceptable to recognize it after the birthday has arrived.
  • Do not give sharp objects, such as knives or scissors, as gifts, as this will create enemies. You can avoid this taboo by exchanging a small amount of money, for example one Russian ruble, implying a trade, not a gift.
  • When giving an animal as a gift (a cat, dog, bird, etc.), the receiver should give the giver a symbolic sum of money, for example one Russian ruble.
  • Do not give a scarf as a gift as this will bring tears to the recipient. You can avoid this taboo by exchanging a small amount of money, for example one Russian ruble, implying a trade, not a gift.
  • Do not give clocks or watches as a gift as this will bring a loss of time to the recipient. You can avoid this taboo by exchanging a small amount of money, for example one Russian ruble, implying a trade, not a gift.
Cause and Effect
  • If your ears or cheeks are hot, someone is thinking or talking about you (usually speaking ill).
  • If your nose itches, you'll be drinking soon. For children they might say, "You'll get hit in the nose".
  • If your right eye itches, you're going to be happy soon. If your left eye itches, you'll be sad.
  • If your lips itch, you'll be kissing someone soon.
  • If you have the hiccups, someone is remembering you at this moment.
  • If a cat is washing its face, expect guests soon.
  • If a black cat crosses your path, it's bad luck (though not unique to Russian tradition). People will often avoid crossing the place where it crossed, or will at least wait for someone else to cross it first.
  • If a hare crosses your path, it's bad luck. This is much less common than the cat superstition, which is understandable given the lack of hares in urban conditions.
  • If you step on a crack, it's bad luck. This one isn't very common, and Russians who do avoid cracks don't do it in an effort to save their mothers' backs.
  • If someone sneezes while telling something, it means he or she is telling the truth.
  • If you wear clothes (such as an undershirt) inside out, you will get beaten. Your friend should point this out, wait for you to fix the clothes and then punch you symbolically.
  • If you carry and empty bucket or push an empty cart, then you will have a bad day.
  • If you wear a shirt backwards, you will become acquainted with someone new.
  • If someone accidentally has their foot stepped on, it is expected that the other person should lightly step on the person&
  • 39;s foot as a way to make things even and avoid future conflict.
  • If a bird flies into your window, someone you know will die soon. This counts even if the window is closed, but then it's usually the bird who dies.
  • If two or more people are walking outside and let a tree or a pole pass between them, it may cause a big argument or discord between them. If they do this accidentally, then they should say "Hello" to each other as soon as they pass a tree or a pole to prevent conflict.
  • If you get hiccups, then it means someone has just thought about you.
  • To stop the hiccups, you should figure out who it is that's thinking about you and the hiccups will stop.
  • If you light a cigarette from a candle, it will bring you bad luck.
  • Even numbers of flowers are only given at funerals.
  • Never give yellow flowers to your lover, as it implies that an argument will happen and your relationship will end.
Good Luck
  • If an eyelash falls out you'll receive a gift. If someone finds an eyelash on someone he or she will sometimes let the person blow it away and make a wish.
  • If someone was talking about you before you entered the room/conversation, then you will live a long and rich life.
  • If one or more birds defecate on you or your property (commonly cars), it's good luck, and may bring you riches.
  • It is good luck to sit between two people with the same name.
  • It is good luck to trip on your left foot.
  • For luck in exams some people put 5 roubles in their shoe or even shout at windows.
  • For good luck some people wear an old safety pin to keep away the evil eye.
  • Lucky tokens should be eaten to release their good luck.
  • Rub the nose of the statue of the German Shepherd dog in the Ploshchad Revolutsii metro station for good luck.
  • If you see a funeral procession, then stand aside and wait until it passes. This brings good luck.
Kitchen or Food
  • If you find a bay leaf in your soup (commonly Borshch) while eating, it means you'll get mail from someone.
  • If you eat from a knife, you'll be "angry like a dog".
  • If spoon falls on the ground, expect a female guest. If a fork falls on the ground, expect an angry woman. If a knife falls, expect a male guest.
  • Accidentally breaking a glass is considered good luck.
  • If you spill salt, it's bad luck and is said to bring conflict, but no one will throw salt over their left shoulder.
  • Two or more people should never use one towel at the same time to dry their hands or bodies, or it is said to bring conflict.
  • One should never hand a knife directly to another person, as it is said that the two will get into a fight. Instead a person should always place the knife down on a surface, and only then can the other person pick it up. In several cases you can give it directly, but only pointing the sharp end to yourself and making the knife's handle accessible for the opposite person.
  • At someone's home for dinner, when you toast your hostess (traditionally the 3rd toast), compliment her on her home, or her food, but not her beauty.
  • Leave your glass on the table when your host is refilling it.
  • When pouring wine, do not pour back-handed, it is considered an insult toward the person for whom you are pouring.
  • Don’t drink without a toast - only at Easter or funerals can you drink without a toast.
  • Always cut bread with a knife and never break it by hand.
  • It is considered bad luck to put one's keys, hat or an empty bottle on the kitchen table.
  • It is considered an omen of poverty or death to sit on a table or put ones feet on a table.
  • If you throw away bread, you will suffer misfortune or experience bad luck.
  • Don't sweep crumbs into your hands, you will frighten the guardian angels who protect your home, and as a result you will have money problems. Sweep them onto a plate or napkin.
  • If you're not married don't sit at the corner of the table. Otherwise you won't marry in the next seven years. If you are 15 you can easily violate this rule.
  • If you spill salt at the table, then you will be plagued by bad luck unless you throw three pinches over your left shoulder immediately.
  • If a woman puts too much salt on the meals this means she is in love.
  • Keep your broom in a corner where you can see it, it should bring you good luck and keep bad house spirits at bay.
Love and Marriage
  • In Russian superstition if a couple sets a wedding date and doesn't end up getting married on that date they can not set another date and should not get married as their union will be cursed.
  • Lucky in cards not lucky in love. This, however, is only a pre-marital superstition. The reason for the division is that marriage is a sacrament in the Russian Orthodox Church, and this sacrament, ordained by God, eviscerates the pre-marital superstition. Thus, when a man is bonded by divine sacrament to a single woman whom he loves the cause and effect is reversed: namely, his married love for a single woman, and her love for him, will bring him good fortune in all endeavors including cards.
  • If it rains on someone's wedding, it means they'll be wealthy.
  • When a bride and groom are on their way to the church, they mustn't look behind themselves. According to this superstition, it means that they are looking back to their previous home and they will not be able to have a happy new life and marriage.
  • At the wedding ceremony, a bride should hold her groom by the hand. It signifies that she is forming a closed space between them which no one will be able to break.
  • If the groom drops the wedding ring while putting it on his wife, this is a bad omen.
  • If the heel of the bride's shoe break, it means the marriage will be as lame as the bride on her wedding day.
  • Do not take your wedding ring off to show it to someone else, or worse still to let them try it on. The wedding ring is worn on your fourth finger, which is the one under the influence of the sun, and is a sign of our heart's true love. If you take it off to show to another, it means you are giving away your love and happiness to a stranger.
  • Guests at a wedding shout: "Gorko! Gorko!" Literally this means: "Bitter! Bitter!" and is traditionally shouted after a toast. The guests are supposed to pretend the wine is bitter and insist the wedding couple start kissing to make it sweeter. They should kiss for as long as possible, while the guests start counting - 1, 2, 3...
  • The bride used to carry a small rug to the church for her and her groom to stand on during the ceremony. Both tried to step on it first, because that person was believed to be the future head of the family
  • Who of the two takes the biggest bite of bread and salt as they are welcomed by the bridegroom's parents after the ceremony will be the future head of the family.
  • During the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom carry candles. Whoever's candle died first, was the one who would die first
  • Try to avoid being a witness at a wedding more than once, otherwise you will end up single.
  • Mirrors are often covered when someone dies to avoid seeing the spirit of the dead still floating in the house. This enables the spirit to be free and go to heaven.
  • Breaking a mirror will bring alienation between you and a close friend.
  • Looking into a broken mirror almost certainly brings bad luck. The superstition says that if you look into a broken mirror, you break your inner world, and your soul becomes defenseless against the dark forces.
  • When suffering from a cold, Russians generally avoid drinking cold liquids, and prefer overall to drink hot beverages like tea.
  • Many Russian superstitions focus on the philosophy that complimenting or drawing attention to something positive can have a negative effect.
  • If someone talks about success or makes a compliment about a child to the parents, then the child's parents will appear to spit three times over their left shoulder and touch a wooden surface three times to prevent bad luck or trouble.
  • Russians will typically avoid talking about pending successes. They believe that it is bad luck to talk about upcoming success before it actually occurs.
  • Never greet, or say goodbye to someone in a doorway. That includes hugs, kisses, shaking hands, or passing/accepting gifts through the doorway. The threshold divides people, and in traditional Russian folklore, the house spirit resides here, so this superstition says that your greetings and gifts will not bring fortune or good luck.
  • On examination day, don't make your bed, don't wear anything new; and don't cut your fingernails.
  • If you've had a bad dream and you want to guarantee it doesn't come true, you can discard it first thing in the morning by retelling it to running water from the faucet so that it goes down the drain…
  • Study your tickets. If the first three numbers add up to the sum of the three numbers on the right, they spit or knock on it or… yes, even eat the ticket for good luck!
  • Don't start anything serious on Mondays.
  • Don't boast about future success because it might bring bad luck. If you cannot resist saying something, then knock on wood three times or spit over your left should three times.
  • If you cross the path of a funeral procession, you will experience bad luck.
  • If you show the location of someone else's surgery or wound on your own body with your hand or other means then you will cause that to happen to you.
  • It's best to cut your hair or nails during a full moon.
  • It is considered bad luck to shave or cut your hair when a family member is in danger or bad health.
  • When someone is talking about something very undesirable or bad, the listener should say in Russian "Типун тебе на язык!", which is generally translated as "Curse that tongue of yours!". This expression is not meant to be offensive at all but is rather used as a spell for prevention of evil and bad luck.
  • Never step over another person, especially children, because it will prevent the person from growing old. If you step over someone, you should step over that person again to undo the evil.
  • If someone comes to visit you and you don't want them to see them again, you should clean the floor immediately after they leave.
  • If your ears or cheeks are hot, someone is thinking or talking about you.
  • Moving to the new house one must first let a cat go in first to assure harmony in the household.
  • "Money goes to money" according to this superstition, so you will attract lots of fortune if you leave coins scattered throughout your bags, cupboards, and drawers.
  • You should always take/receive money with your left hand, but give it with your right hand.
  • If your right hand itches, you're going to get money soon. It sometimes means you're going to greet someone. If your left hand itches, you're going to give someone money.
  • If someone is not recognized when seen or heard, he or she will be rich. So if someone calls you on the phone and you don't recognize them you can cheer them up by telling them they'll be rich.
  • Do not count money after dark, and never lend it in the evening time, as it is a sign that you will lose your wealth.
  • Do not take things out of the house after dark or you will lose your fortune.
  • It is believed that the money can transmit energy from its owner, including negative energy.
  • If a spider or a "message from a pigeon" appears on your clothes, or if, for example, you accidentally step in some dog dirt, don't be in a rush to curse your fate. These are omens of great financial success.
  • If you drive under a bridge that a freight train is crossing, then you should shake out your purse and put money and credit cards on your heads with cries of, "Freight train, give us money, give us money!" According to Russians who believe in omens, this "spell" often works, bringing unexpected profit to those who believe in it.
  • Don't leave your purse or wallet on the floor or you will be unlucky with your money; you will not have more money.
  • The New Year should be met with money in your pocket, new clothes, guests in your house and no unpaid debts.
  • If you whistle indoors, you will frighten the guardian angels who protect your home, and as a result you will have money problems.
  • If you sing on an empty stomach, you will chase your money away (and maybe your spouse too, if your singing is really that bad!)
  • The so-called windfall money that comes unexpectedly and is not earned should be spent for good things, preferably for the needs of other people, rather than for yourself, because otherwise such money will not bring happiness.
  • Russian merchants believe that when the first person who buys things in a store is a man, the business will be very successful and a lot of goods will be sold that day. If the first customer is a woman, the business will be slow and unprofitable.
  • Do not pick up coins from the road. The popular belief is that such coins carry negative energy if they were thrown by a bad person and cause sickness.
  • Before leaving for a long journey travelers, and all those who are seeing them off, must sit for a moment in silence before leaving the house. It is often conveniently written off as a time to sit and think of anything one may have forgotten.
  • After someone has left the house on a long journey, their room and/or their things should not be cleaned up until they have arrived, or at least a day has passed if they are guests in a house.
  • Returning home for forgotten things is a bad omen. It is better to leave it behind, but if returning is necessary, one should look in the mirror before leaving the house again. Otherwise the journey will be bad.
  • One should not to shake hands or give something through a threshold.
  • If it's raining when you leave a place, it means you'll return, and it is considered a generally good omen.
  • Do not wash the clothes of a person who is away from home. It may prevent them from returning home.
  • If you want to come back again to the place you have liked, you should throw a coin onto the closest pool. In Slavic legends the water symbolized clearance and revitalization. To through some money means to show your respect to the water so that it does not prevent you from coming back again.

last revised 18 September 2011 © 2003-2011 Ruth E. Imershein
The information contained on these pages is intended to assist in making travel plans but things change, mistakes can be made.
Please do not depend entirely on this information when making your decisions.

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