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Stevie Wonder had a hit song back in the early seventies called Superstition and it was a huge hit!
A few of the lyrics included:
When you believe in things you don’t understand
Then you suffer
Superstition ain’t the way.
Well, it may not be the way for most folks, but many still are superstitious and have superstitions which they may have inherited from their ancestors or a certain culture.
A superstition is a belief considered by non -practitioners to be of irrational behavior or that of the supernatural, attributed to magic or fear of the unknown. And these date back to thousands of years. Be it a defense mechanism to ward off bad luck or a practice to draw better luck, many cultures still practice varied forms of their own superstitions. In this post I will be focusing on some of the superstitions common with the Italian culture.
Most of us are familiar with some common ones such as:
I grew up in a wonderful environment enriched by my mother’s Italian heritage and my father’s Croatian heritage. I can’t say I remember any superstitions on my father’s side, but the Italian influence has been well-remembered and ingrained in my brain. I can honestly say I still practice some of these beliefs to this day.
Superstitions Italian Style
Ever since I was a baby, I wore a small solid gold lucky horn to guard off the “Malocchio” or Evil Eye. The Malocchio is the look of jealousy by others and can do some real damage, such as debilitating headaches or other physical ailments. One can also make the shape of horns with your hand to ward off this curse.
The Olive oil method is well-known among most Italians, but the procedure can be varied depending upon the region you are from in Italy.
As far back as I can remember I can still see myself receiving the Olive Oil Treatment. Anytime I had a bad headache my grandma would have me sit with a bowl on my head as she poured drops of oil into the water and carefully observing how many turned into eye shapes. Those were said to be the sign that one or more people had sent the curse. She’d say a few prayers over the bowl then have me repeat this with her.
The prayers had to be repeated three times. I always wondered what my friends would think if they could see me now. Well anyway for the most part, I have to say it worked. Grandma was taught this method in her small village over in Italy by the village Strega, which is a witch in Italian.
And it wasn’t just me who got the old bowl treatment, but other members of the family. I used to wonder why so many people were giving us this curse?
As I grew older those headaches seemed to disappear, and I wondered if I was no longer a victim of the Evil Eye. After grandma passed, I was sorry I hadn’t learned how to perform this method. It was a tradition. But then again, I didn’t think my children would believe in such a thing. Seems this was regarded by the older generation.
My mother was extremely superstitious, and I remember some of the methods she used to ward of bad spirits. I still carry out some of these traditions to this day.
Some of them were: to salt the perimeter of the house and the front door, wearing a small sachet of herbs pinned to her bra, and placing a brush above the doors. Placing a bush above the doors was said to ward off the witches, as they have to count the bristles and by the time they were done, the witching hour was well over. And anytime you even spoke of witches, you had to cross your legs. And just for the record, my legs are crossed right now writing this post.
I mention the Olive Oil treatment and the Strega in one of my books, Beloved Sacrifice, which is based on true facts my grandma told me about her family while living in the village in Italy.
Those stories stuck with me till this day along with the superstitions. I still have my golden horn but have lost my special sachet of herbs a while back, which I had worn for many years as my mother did. I am researching more about what may have been in those sachets and would love to make a few again. I mean, who couldn’t use better luck?
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