Superstitions in Turkey

2 February 2022

The Turkish culture is a very colorful one with many superstitions and beliefs. Some may seem familiar, with other countries having similar beliefs, but some are unique to Turkey and are worth noting before visiting the country as a foreigner.

If you’re a frequent visitor to Turkey you have probably realized that the Turkish people believe in a lot of superstitions. There are many that overlap between the UK and Turkey, common ones like the Black Cats crossing your path, the number 13, and breaking mirrors leading to bad luck.

There are also plenty that you may not have come across before, so here’s the guide to Turkish superstitions.

The Evil Eye (Nazar)

The evil eye or Nazar as it’s known in Turkish is a pretty charm, normally made of glass that you will see all over Turkey. The meaning is based on the idea that if someone feels envy or jealousy towards you it can bring you bad luck.  This charm wards off and protects you from the bad luck. Expect to see it in cars, in homes, on jewellery and many other items. It’s said that if the charm breaks or shatters it’s warded off the bad luck and should be replaced immediately.

Knocking on Wood

Knocking on wood three times is a popular superstition that occurs when talk turns to something unfortunate. The person will knock on wood three times to protect themselves or someone else from it.

Pouring Water behind the Departing

When someone is leaving on a journey, it is very common to see people pouring water onto the road behind them as they depart. This means that the person’s journey will hopefully be smooth like water, and they will return quickly and in good health.

The Right Side

In Turkey it’s a good idea to start everything on the right side. When you step out or into somewhere, onto a plane, out of bed or out of your house in the morning it’s always best to put your right foot first. The superstition is that the left side can bring bad news or negative luck, so the right foot is used first for better luck and more positivity.

Palm Itch, Left or Right

In Turkey, when your palm itches, it’s said that it’s a message regarding money. If your left palm itches it means you will lose money, but if your right palm itches then you will make, or receive money.

Foot stamp from Bride to Groom

During a Turkish wedding it’s common to see the bride step on the foot of the groom. This is normally done when it’s declared that they are married. This action from the bride means she will be in charge rather than the other way round.

The Passing of Sharp Objects

In Turkey you never hand someone a sharp object like scissors or a knife with the blade facing them, not only because this is dangerous, but Turkish people believe this may cause a fight in the future. Either put the item down for them to pick up or hand it to them with the blunt edge facing them.

Ringing in your Ears

The belief that your ears ring because you’re being spoken about spans back 2000 years. If the ring is only heard in one ear, hopefully it’s the right one. The belief is if the ring is only heard in your right ear, good things are being said whereas if it’s just the left ear, the comments being said about you may not be so positive.

Gazing into Space

If you happen to find yourself gazing into space the belief is that an unexpected guest may show up on your doorstep.

Shoes Falling in a Pile

The Turks have a suspicion that if your shoes happen to fall one on top of the other, then you will most likely embark on a trip, whether you have one planned or not.

Whistling at Night calls the Devil

There is a superstition that whistling at night can draw evil spirits. The reality is that while this practice is not considered a sin, making unnecessary noise is considered bad manners. Whistling indoors is also thought to ‘whistle away all the money’.

Opening an Umbrella Indoors

Another superstition that involves bad spirits is the belief that opening an umbrella indoors will let out evil spirits. Derived from a belief that spans back to Pre- Islamic times, spirits are supernatural creatures that can be good or bad, based on their affiliation with God.

Stepping under a Ladder

In Turkey, it’s definitely considered a bad omen to walk or pass under a ladder, much like many other countries beliefs. According to ancient Egyptian beliefs, passing through any triangular shape is considered trespassing upon the holy space of the divine, which is a punishable act. Since an open ladder or a propped up ladder will create a triangular shape, it is thought that the superstition in Turkey originated from this ancient fear.

A Bird Poop is Good!

Indeed, one of the most well known and widespread superstitions all over the globe is the belief that if a bird poops on you it will bring you good luck or good fortune. Turkey is no different, so if you happen to be that lucky person who gets pooped on, you should expect good luck or good news in the near future.

Never Throw away Bread

Bread is considered sacred in Turkey so throwing it out would indeed bring bad luck. Turkish people will either feed the birds or hang it somewhere high to ensure it never hits the floor.

A Hooting Owl

If an owl hoots on the roof of a house at night, this superstition says this could be a sign of bad luck, even to the extent of the near- future death of someone you may know.

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