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Superstitions


There are many superstitions in Turkey and even educated people are not completely immune to them.

Although it is illegal to make a commercial practice of, for example, casting a spell, doing magic, breathing on sick people in order to cure them or telling fortunes, a large portion of the society believes in and turns to such practices in desperation.

Evil Eye
The most widespread belief is to do with the evil eye (nazar). As human beings, we are all supposed to feel envious upon seeing or hearing something nice, something which others have and we do not. It is believed that this feeling of envy may cause harm to the things envied. People with green or blue eyes are said to be especially dangerous. As a result, other people's property and good news are not praised without the protective word Masallah (May God preserve) and children as well as property are equipped with a blue bead in the shape of an eye to ward off the effects of the evil eye.

If you see a woman (it is a characteristically feminine gesture) pulling the lobe of her ear and squeezing her lips to give out a pressurized kissing sound at the same time, you can be sure that she has just recounted some fortunate story. With this combined act of movement and sound, she is sending a 'bullet to the devil's ears' in the hope that it will be the bullet that reaches them rather than her good words.

Another custom is to pour water from a jug as people are leaving to wish them a safe journey. Shoes are not left with one sitting on top of the other as it is inviting trouble to tangle the feet of the owner. Before starting anything risky or dangerous, one says "Bismillah" (In the name of God) and takes the first step with the right leg.

Sharp items such as a knife or a pair of scissors are deadly and believed to carry harmful djinns. They should not be handed straight over to someone else but left on a surface, from where the other person takes them. If putting them down is not possible at least give them a gentle spit to scare off the djinns, before handing them over.

You are supposed to smile as soon as you see the new moon in the sky and the month will bring you pleasant things to keep you smiling until the next crescent moon appears.

There are superstitions concerning animals too. It is believed that killing a spider will bring bad luck, as will seeing a black car or an owl. The last two have correlations with the night, one because of its colour, the other because of its nocturnal nature, and indeed the night is feared with all its uncertainties and secrets. Housewives never do housework after the sun is set in case there are dark souls lurking in the shadowy corners.

There are also superstitions which are international such as avoiding passing underneath a ladder and the number 13, which is hard to find on a house in the street. Another number people avoid using on their houses in 100. This, however, is for fear of public ridicule rather than of the supernatural - yüz numara (100) is a euphemism for a toilet.