1. Spit three times if a black cat crosses your path
Cats can be psychotic creatures. If a black one crosses a Swede’s path, you may see him or her spit three times over their left shoulder in order to ward off evil spirits. Best to duck and cover.
If a black cat is about, beware. Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT
2. Peppar, peppar, ta i trä
Just like many other nationalities, to prevent something nasty from happening, Swedes knock on wood while reciting “peppar, peppar, ta i trä” so they’re not jinxed. Pepper, pepper, touch wood.
3. Don’t walk under a ladder
This leads to three weeks of bad luck. Ladders are known for being risky at the best of times, and walking under them leads to more risks. We’re not so sure, but avoid it just in case.
… is what you say in Swedish when someone sneezes. It is actually Latin and means “may it be beneficial”.
5. Save the tomte!
A more modern superstition is that if you say “thank you” when someone says “prosit”, a tomte (a little gnome in Swedish folklore) dies. But if you quickly clap your hands, he lives. Phew.
Don’t kill her! Photo: Vegard Wivestad Grøtt/NTB scanpix/TT
6. Spilling salt
Spilling salt gives bad luck. If you do, you have to pick up a pinch of the spilled salt and throw it over your shoulder. Good thing there’s a way to stop all this bad luck from happening, isn’t it?
Oh no! Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT
7. Don’t open an umbrella indoors
This spells serious bad luck, and not only for the person standing next to you getting poked in the eye.
Beware! Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT
8. Don’t put your keys on the table
If you put something under the keys, like a book, we think you’re OK. But we’re no experts.
Don’t put your keys on the table. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT
9. Don’t wish someone good luck
In English, you tell someone to “break a leg”. In Sweden, you give them a gentle kick to the buttocks.
He was aiming for his backside. Photo: AP Photo/Rui Vieira
10. Don’t step on an ‘A-brunn’
If you see a manhole cover marked with an A, don’t step on it or you may attract all the misfortunes that start with an A. If you do, just get someone to knock three times on your back and the bad luck will go away.
Avoid like the plague. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT
11. Don’t compare hand size
We suspect this is allegedly small-fingered former US president Donald Trump’s favourite superstition.
We know what they’re thinking. Mine is bigger than yours. Photo: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
12. Don’t kill a spider
Because if you do, it will rain the following day.
Well, you know what to blame. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT
13. Don’t bring heather into the house
It means death, which is never a good thing.
As long as it stays outside. Photo: Bezav Mahmod/SvD/TT