How to avoid a spot of bad luck in Russia

Ever wonder how to avoid bad luck when travelling? Russian tradition has a lot to say about luck. Read our 9 favourite Russian superstitions.

Russia, like every country, has its fair share of quirky traditions and superstitions. Before visiting, check out this list of some of our favourites.


1. When heading on a trip

Before you even arrive in Russia, get in tune with some of their quirky superstitions by taking a moment to pause in silence before leaving your house. It is common for those leaving on a journey to sit in silence before going, preferably on their suitcase. Use this time to try remembering the things you forgot to pack!

Russian traditions - man sitting on a suitcase, thinking about something.

2. Going back for forgotten things

It is seen as bad luck to go back for things you have forgotten, so make sure you use your ‘pre-journey thinking time’ to mentally double check. If you absolutely have to go back because you forgot your phone (or child) for example, then make sure you look in a mirror before leaving again.

Russian traditions - woman in a car, just remembering something .she has forgotten.

3. Be careful where you step

Another strange tradition is to ‘even things out’ if you accidentally step on someone’s foot. If you were to stand on someone, superstition has it that you are going to fight in the future. In order to prevent the fight, the other person may stand back on your foot lightly.

Russian traditions - people walking across a crosswalk.

4. Wishing Happy Birthday

If someone you are visiting or travelling with has an upcoming birthday, be careful not to wish him or her happy birthday in advance. Also, don’t buy presents in advance or celebrate at any time before the day as this is also considered bad luck.

Russian traditions - happy birthday to a young girl, cake with candles.

5. Hand gestures

When speaking, try to avoid using hand gestures that demonstrate something negative. If you are talking about someone who has a sore tooth and demonstrate by pointing to your teeth or someone else’s, this brings bad energy. If you accidentally do it, you can get rid of the bad energy by swiping it away.

Russian traditions - two men talking business, gesturing to each other.

6. Smiling at strangers

Smiling at strangers is not normal in Russia. Smiles are meant to be special and shares with loved ones and friends. This goes the same for talking to strangers, but if you are a foreigner asking for help, then you will find that Russians are very friendly people and are happy to give directions.

Russian traditions - two people in a train, looking at their phones.

7. The all important rules around alcohol

As you may know, Russia only just classified beverages under 10% alcohol as alcoholic in 2011, and there are no rules prohibiting minors from consuming alcohol. Importantly, many superstitions and customs evolve around a few drinks so it is good to be aware. Make sure you don’t toast with an empty glass or you may be required to drink the rest of the bottle. Also, when there is alcohol present, the rule is to keep drinking until it is finished, so don’t buy a huge bottle of vodka for the table unless you are willing to empty it.

Russian traditions - tree people toasting with glasses

8. At the dinner table

Now that you know the basic rules applying to drinking when at the table, you will also need to know those applying to eating. Girls wishing to be married in the near future should absolutely not sit at the corner seat at a table, otherwise the bad luck will prevent them from being married for seven years. So be sure to save a space in the middle for them. You will also do well not to directly hand someone a knife. Place it on the table for them to pick up or superstition has it that you might find yourself fighting with that person in the future.

Russian traditions - friends at the dinner table eating a meal.

9. Have oily hair for exams

If you are about the head to an exam or test there are a couple of rules you should follow to avoid failing according to the Russians. Firstly, don’t wear anything new, don’t wash your hair or cut your nails and whatever you do, don’t make your bed.

Russian traditions -woman looking at her staduies.

These are only some of the superstitions that are engrained in the Russian culture. If you want to read up on more then check out Weird Russia’s extensive list. It may not be normal to smile at strangers in Russia, but at Park Inn by Radisson Pulkovskaya in St. Petersburg you will find us with huge grins above our chins when welcoming you to stay.

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