Puerto Rican Superstitions: The World’s Superstitions Series

As I wrote about Puerto Rican traditions yesterday, I could not help but remember our superstitions. Then, I thought, whoa, that would be an all-around great series I could start on the blog! So, ladies and gentlemen, today I start a New Series, titled The World’s Superstitions, with the first entry about my home country, Puerto Rican superstitions today!

Puerto Rican superstitions are very likely similar to those of other Latin American countries, as many of them were inherited from the Spanish Conquistadors that “discovered” our lands, Taíno indigenous tribes (among the first settlers of the Caribbean), and the African slaves brought by the Spanish. Together, they make up the rich heritage and of course, the interesting list of superstitions! And without any other preamble, I present to you the oh-so-random list of Puerto Rican superstitions. Enjoy!

Puerto Rican superstitions - Rabbit's foot

Rabbit’s foot, part of Puerto Rican superstitions – picture from Buzzle.com

* It is believed that carrying a rabbit’s foot attracts good luck and keeps the evil eye at bay. Many Puerto Ricans believe there is a certain aura, certain magic about it.

* Like in many other countries, according to Puerto Rican superstitions, the number 13 is feared so much that in the majority of buildings, you will never see a 13th floor. Yes, if you are in an old elevator in Puerto Rico, chances are it would go something like this: “10…11…12…14.” I know, technically, floor 14 is in fact the 13th floor, but they feel as if it is not written, its “bad omen” will not be present.

* And talking about 13th’s bad omen, Tuesday the 13th is in Puerto Rico what Friday the 13th is elsewhere. Furthermore, due to the “Americanization” of the island beginning full-throttle with the signing of Jones Act in 1917 by President Woodrow Wilson (making Puerto Ricans collectively U.S. citizens), these days many Boricuas consider both days to carry bad luck. Ay, as we didn’t have enough bad omens already!

* An odd, and rather comical, is how according to Puerto Rican superstitions, lefties are not allowed in heaven. Sure, not believed so much anymore, but still, it is very unlikely that a Puerto Rican mother will allow her child to be a lefty if she can help it. Yes, that means mom will teach you how to write with your right hand and force you to do so in her sight anyway. This is kind of a blessing in disguise though, as many Puerto Rican “lefties” end up being ambidextrous (able to  use both hands with equal skill). My Puerto Rican friend Claudia is a great example of this! =P

* Black cats are a universal bad omen, no matter how you put it. They bring bad luck, evil, all things dark to your life. Beware.

* There is a little-understood fear of walking under ladders. Apparently, it means really bad luck. To my Puerto Rican mother, I think it equaled death–quite literally. I remember mom yelling at me, freaking out senseless whenever I would walk under a ladder as a kid. It is as if she didn’t trust ladders! Yet, I remember her using them to clean all the time. So, she valued my life, but not hers? Ahh, the ironies of life…

* First showers of the month of May? RUN…TO THE WATER!! Haha indeed, if la primera llovizna de mayo (the first shower of May) is going on, drizzle drizzle! To many Puerto Ricans, this is a great mini-shower of luck =) I still find myself doing this abroad!

* If you have a farm or own animals that live outside, you wake up one morning and one (or several) of them are dead, they must have been eaten by the Chupacabra. Guaranteed.

* And now, we shall go to my favorite of the bunch!! Every New Year’s, right when the clock hits midnight, we throw a big bucket of water outside a window, door or a balcony with joyous energy. Location really depends on where you live. Why? This symbolizes the emptying of the Año Viejo’s (“Old Year”) bad things and a fresh start of the Año Nuevo (“New Year”) with a splash of great luck. I always have this vivid picture of my grandma and mom throwing this big bucket of water, each holding one of the handles, every single year without failure. Always brings a smile to my face and great memories. So I guess it does splashes good omen? ;)

That’s my good list of Puerto Rican superstitions to kick off this new series! On the next post, I shall have a [surprise] country and its nice list of superstitions! If there is a particular country you would like me to research, tell me in your response so I take it into consideration! (Hint: I will probably write about every country I am provided *wink*)

Know more Puerto Rican superstitions? What about some in your country?

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8 thoughts on “Puerto Rican Superstitions: The World’s Superstitions Series

  1. In Russia, you are not allowed to whistle in the house, it makes you lose money. And if you drop a spoon or fork on the floor, you have to tap the handle’s tip on the corner of a wooden table in order to use it again, or else “bad things happen”, haha. Oh, and if you have a nightmare, in order to keep it from coming true, you must give away food to a friend or family member :) If you spill salt, you have to throw it over your shoulder. 13 is (of course) an unlucky number. Black cats are bad – they bring bad business. Oh, and if you’re pregnant, youre not supposed to tell anyone, or something bad will happen with the pregnancy. Just keep quiet about it until somebody notices :3
    That’s all I can think of :P

    • Those are great Shelby! Thanks for sharing. It is very interesting how so many superstitions around the world overlap, even if the countries are very far away!

  2. My mother raised me with a ton of puerto rican superstitions. Bad luck if someone sweeps over your feet, your suppose to spit on the broom when it happens, lol. We eat black eye peas to bring good luck on new years, we also suppose to have a man be the first to walk in the house with money in his pocket on new years. Oh and ladies never put your purse on the floor, it means you’ll lose money.

    • Yeah, indeed, Puerto Ricans are quite superstitious. I didn’t know the black eyed peas one, though! I guess I’ll have to have to eat a bowl of those tonight ;)

  3. I recall one about itchy palms. If your right hand was itchy , you’d come into money if you didn’t scratch it (relief yourself of the itch). If it was your left, you’d lose money if you scratched it. That has led to many years of suffering through itchy palms.

    I also recall one about hitting your elbow (funny bone). That means you’d see someone or you’d have someone visit over. As I recall right elbow was welcomed and left elbow was an unwelcome visitor.

    • Oh wow, thanks for those JJ! Is it weird that this Boricua has never heard of any of the Puerto Rican superstitions you described?!

  4. You guys have left a lot of them out.
    1. New borns are given a tiny braclette with Coral and Ebony in the shape of tiny fist, to ward off the evil eye.
    2. If you admired something someone else has you always add ” que Dios te lo deje gozar” so in case it breaks later or gets lost they don’t blame you of giving it the evil eye.
    3. When ever you speak of future plans you always add ” si Dios quiere” so as not to make God angry and foil your plans.
    4. You go to the ocean and throw yourself 3 times into the coming waves backwards. Then you walk to shore wothout looking back for good luck.
    5. Among the old folk, if anyone mentioned the Devil in conversation, the other people would say ” Jesus mil veces” or “Lagarto sea” in case he decided to appear.
    6. You wore a rosary made of “Camandula seeds” to protect you from witches.
    7. You don’t walk alone at night because spirits may appear to you seeking help.

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