FRIDAY the 13th is a day of misfortune for many a superstitious expat.
But you won’t find many locals drawing their blinds and crossing their fingers on that date.
For Spaniards, it’s actually Tuesday the 13th that’s considered unlucky.
Tuesday is believed to be ruled by Mars, the Roman god of war who gives his name to Martes – Tuesday in Spanish.
As the old Spanish proverb warns: ‘En martes, ni te cases, ni te embarques, ni de tu casa te apartes’ – or in English – “On Tuesday, don’t get married, embark on a journey, or move away.”
To keep evil spirits at bay this Halloween, take note of these 10 Spanish superstitions:
Putting a hat on a bed will bring you bad luck, say the Spanish. This superstition is believed to date from a time when people thought evil spirits lived in people’s hair, meaning they could be transferred from the hair to the hat and then to the bed, leaving you open to ghost attacks in the night.
Tradition states that buying knives or scissors as a gift is a serious no-no. They are believed to symbolise the cutting of ties and relationships, so if you gift newlyweds with knives, they will break up.
While many in the western world tell their actor friends to ‘break a leg’, in Spain it’s a bit different. Instead you must wish that person ‘mucha mierda’, or ‘lots of shit’. Like many theatre superstitions, the origin is hard to place.
If you have noticed a cornucopia of cacti on your Spanish friends’ window sills or dotted around their homes, it could be down to their superstitious natures. It is widely believed that the spiky green plant can ward away all things evil.
Lucky number seven
While most countries believe cats can cheat death nine times, poor Iberian felines have to tread more carefully as they have two fewer lives than their British counterparts, with just seven. And if they’re black, they had better not cross your path in Spain, one of the few countries where it’s considered unlucky.
Be careful when your next sweeping your patio. In Spain, if you accidentally brush a single woman’s feet, she will never get married. The superstition is believed to be related to witches.
Not so mellow yellow
A sure fire way to get back at someone is to buy them yellow clothes. Yellow is said to represent sulphur and the devil. It is also said to bring bad luck in certain situations, so don’t wear yellow on the day of an exam or job interview.
No sour grapes
Every expat should know that, on New Year’s Eve, Spaniards traditionally eat 12 grapes on the 12 strokes of midnight for luck and prosperity during the year ahead. But did you also know they wear red underwear on the last night of the year for extra luck?
Right foot forward
A superstitious tradition warns Spaniards never to enter a room with their left foot, unless they want to unleash a series of unfortunate events. However it’s possible to reverse the curse by making the sign of the cross three times.
There must always be an extra chair at the table to put your handbag or purse on. The Spanish say leaving it on the floor will cause you to lose all your money.