Growing up, I was always aware of various superstitions, some sillier than others. “Step on a crack and you’ll break your mother’s back” was a common schoolyard rhyme, and along with this were the beliefs that walking under a ladder, opening an umbrella indoors, or breaking a mirror would bring bad luck (7 years in the event of a broken mirror, in fact). Some other bad luck omens were if a black cat crossed your path and also anything containing the number 13.
So upon arrival in Argentina, encountering these beliefs was nothing new or different. There are, however, some other interesting superstitions that I’ve encountered since I’ve been here.
It’s considered bad luck to say “feliz cumpleaños” (happy birthday) or to celebrate your birthday before the actual day. Instead, people will tell you “feliz día” on the days leading up to it.
– You can read more about this in our Ñoquis blog, but it’s said that if you eat ñoquis on the 29th of the month with money under your plate, then that will bring you greater wealth in the coming month. Some Argentines aren’t aware of this as a superstition, but instead believe that eating ñoquis on the 29th is just a tradition brought over from Italy.
– Many Argentines steadfastly believe that eating watermelon with a glass of red wine will lead to something ranging from a terribly upset stomach to certain death.
You’ll find that when you take the colectivo (bus) and pay with coins, which used to be the only method, you’ll get a small ticket from the machine with a number printed on it. If the number is an anagram (i.e. 12321, the same forwards and backwards) then it’s said to be very good luck.
It’s believed that if you put on a sweater or a shirt inside-out or backwards, then you’re going to receive a gift. While I’ve heard of putting on an inside-out shirt bring good luck, I’ve never before heard that you’ll get a present.
You’ll notice many people (babies in particular) have a red ribbon or string tied around their wrist to ward off envy. You’ll also see red ribbons tied onto the bumpers of cars.
For those living in relative isolation way out in the country (i.e. you can’t even see your nearest neighbors), they say that you’ll definitely receive visitors later in the day if you see a bird flying directly towards your house.