Understanding Egypt is a series about Egyptian culture and traditions. I will try my best to explain the Egyptian way of thinking about different aspects of life that are usually different (or not) from Western and other cultures. If you have any questions or points you need elaborated please contact me through the comments sections or through the contact me page.
In every culture there are those weird superstitions. And they vary greatly and even sometimes contradict between one culture and the other one! For example, seeing a black cat is considered good luck in England and Ireland, but considered bad luck in neighboring Scotland!
Superstitions, in my humble opinion, are just superstitions, based on some old story that no one knows now, but people still practice the moral of the story for no specific reason. Some people, however, still believe in them. And though no one can tell if they are based on true stories or not, it is always quite fun and interesting to know some of the superstitions of a different culture!
So off to my favorite (or top 5 that I think are weird) Egyptian superstitions, and their explanations (if I was ever given one)
1- Leaving shoes or flip-flops upside down would bring REAL bad luck!
Even those modern Egyptians that would go on for hours about how stupid the traditional Egyptian way of thinking is, just leave a pair of shoes randomly upside down close to them and you’ll find them unintentionally correcting its position. It is burried deep inside us that this is something that needs to be corrected, without us noticing that we’re doing it!
Explanation – by my father:
An upside down shoes is facing the sky, it is facing God, this is rude!
– It is worth mentioning that through out the Middle East and the Arab world it is considered very rude to put your shoes facing someone. So if you’re being invited in an Arab country and you decide to cross your legs, take care they at least not facing your host!
2- Opening and Closing scissors without anything in between, Evil things will happen to you!
It was my grandma who always came shouting to me whenever I would be cutting and pasting pictures, and then for some weird reason I decide that I want to play with the scissors, opening and closing it several times, she would come so mad at me because what I’m doing is wrong and would bring Evil things to the house and to us
Explanation – by my grandma:
Keep doing this and you’re cutting the souls and spirits that are in the air! They’ll get mad at you!
– My explanation now that I grew up: She was just afraid I would hurt myself with the scissors so she tried scaring me!
3- Blue eyes, blue hands, just blue!
It is believed that the color blue (turquoise) would keep the evil eye away! This is why on so many Egyptian houses you’ll find the turquoise eye or hand hanged on a wall, usually with the words “Masha’ Allah – ماشاء الله ” encrypted on them – which is a sentence from the Holy Quran that is used to keep off the evil eye of other people.
4- Black cats:
Unlike Scotland and many other places in the world, it is not ONLY the black cats! Several other animals are considered bad luck! Mainly owls! And rats would come on the list too!
5- Black Magic and Envy
People from Egypt and the Arab world in general widely believe in Black Magic, Envy and jinxing something/someone! A daily example is, let’s say, I buy a new t-shirt, you like it, for a reason the t-shirt got cut the following day, then it is you to blame because you envied it, which automatically makes a jinx on the t-shirt! Similarly, if I am planning my travels let’s say, and I announce them early before everything is set, and then something comes up, I couldn’t travel, or I traveled and something bad happened, I would blame it some one that knew of my travels and who wanted to do something similar but didn’t!
– No I din’t do this to that extent! I have already shared my travel plans for the next six months without them being finalized!
So there you go, five of my most favorite, and the weirdest superstitions in Egypt! There are a lot more than these, here are some shared by Maria from Latin Abroad!
What are some of the weirdest superstitions in your country? And what’s your favorite?
Other posts from Understanding Egypt: