Everyone knows that breaking a mirror gives you seven years of bad luck, and that if you step on a crack you’ll break your mother’s back. It’s easy enough to avoid a superstitious catastrophe when you’re at home and know all about the culture and folklore, but what about when you’re outside your native country? If you’re someone who does a lot of travelling, chances are you’re going to eventually run into some questionable scenarios that will either doom your day or bring you great luck according to local canon. So to help you ward off evil spirits and reap good fortune from seemingly serendipitous situations wherever you happen to be, here are 10 absurd superstitions from around the world.
10. Troublesome Elves (Iceland)
Lots of different cultures have myths about elves and fairies, but in Iceland they make reference to a specific supernatural version of elves known as the huldufólk, or hidden people. As the story goes, these magical creatures really hate construction sites. Icelandic authorities and managers have even gone so far as to alter plans for building projects in order to prevent damaging the rocks where huldufólk are believed to live. There was also a law instituted in 1990 which protects any site that has at least 100 years of supernatural history. According to Icelandic president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, the tales of the huldufólk exist today because, in the old times, Icelanders were few in number, and so the country attempted to increase their population size with tales of elves and fairies.