Happy Friday the 13th! Czech Superstitions by Region

It isn’t just avoiding eye contact when toasting that’ll give you bad luck in the Czech Republic – whatever you do, don’t do this in Prague

Today is Friday the 13th, said to be an unlucky date in cultures around the world, for a variety of historical and biblical associations. In the Czech Republic, Pátek třináctého is also considered a harbinger of bad luck – among many other superstitions.

In honor of Friday the 13th, Sazka, the Czech lottery agency polled people around the country to find out which superstitions are strongest in which regions of the Czech lands. Surprisingly only a couple of regions strongly believe in the Friday the 13th superstition including those polled in Karlovy Vary (15.4 percent), Olomouc (50 percent), and Zlin (44 percent).

That said, over forty percent of Czechs wouldn’t get married on Friday the 13th, although the survey found that three times more Czech people play the lottery on this day.

Czechs tend to adhere to a number of other superstitions more closely, such as:

Spilling the salt – In Prague (and nowhere else) over half of the people polled (55.7 percent) said doing this at the table was sure to bring about gloom and doom.

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A black cat crossing your path – In Northern Bohemian, Moravia, and Central Bohemia people will go to great lengths to avoid a black cat.

Crossing over a canal – Walking over a manhole is said to bring misfortune in Hradec Králové and Pardubice.

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Broken mirrors – It has been said that Czechs see broken glass as good luck (a bride and groom will break a plate and sweep up the fragments during the wedding party), but not according to this poll which found that over half of South Bohemians and Eastern Moravians think the opposite.

Stepping on the left foot – In English, “getting off on the wrong foot” is an idiom for an awkward start to a personal encounter; in Jihlava and the surrounding areas, it’s actually considered bad luck to literally take a step with your left foot.

Walking under a ladder – Half of those polled in the Ústí nad Labem avoid walking under a ladder.

While those mentioned in the poll are some of the most commonly held superstitions, you can read about some of the more obscure Czech folk superstitions here and here.

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