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13 wild superstitions from around the world

Everybody knows that breaking a mirror gives you seven years of bad luck, and that a black cat crossing your path will give you feline AIDS. Avoiding such travesties is easy enough at home, but if you do any amount of traveling you're bound to run into some questionable scenarios that'll doom your day. Here are some of our favorites:

Flickr user a_seph
In India...
A solar eclipse pretty much means everybody's staying indoors for the duration. Just about everything's put in hibernation mode -- from road traffic to the stock market -- due to the widespread belief the sun's rays are toxic during the celestial event. Some also believe that burying a sick child up to their neck during an eclipse can cure them of their ailment... because science.

In Afghanistan...
The number 39 is linked (inexplicably) to prostitution, and anyone whose phone number or license plate ends with 39 is a social pariah. People who're 39 years old often say they're "one less than 40" just to avoid the embarrassment.

In Nigeria...
Never kiss a baby on the lips, or they'll drool when they grow into adulthood. Even if this isn't true, you shouldn't really be kissing babies on the lips anyway.
Shutterstock
In Turkey...
It's a commonly held local belief that chewing gum at night is akin to chowing down on the flesh of a dead person. A minty-fresh dead person.

In Japan...
Stabbing chopsticks straight up into your bowl of rice'll cause the whole dinner table to murmur in disapproval, as this is generally only done during funeral ceremonies. Passing food from chopstick to chopstick is a no-no for much the same reason: at funerals, family members pass the bones of the dead person with chopsticks.

In South Korea...
Going to sleep with a fan on in an enclosed space can straight up kill you. This unfounded belief is so prevalent that electric fans are often sold with timers, to prevent accidental death due to... suffocation, somehow?

In Thailand...
It's considered good luck for a man to wear a penis medallion. No, seriously, the "palad khik" -- which translates to "honorable surrogate penis", obviously -- is supposed to confer good fortune when gambling, protect you from muggings, and make you irresistible to women. Seems legit.
Flickr user Narih Lee
In Serbia...
It's a good idea to spill some water behind a person who's going to a job interview, headed out on a journey, or about to attempt any sort of endeavor at all. The movement of water's said to symbolize fluidity and motion; just don't spill it on their pants, as that probably won't have the same effect on the interview.

In Spain...
Instead of kissing someone when the clock strikes 12 on New Year's Eve, you should eat 12 grapes in rapid succession. Not only does this ensure the coming year'll be a lucky one, it also gives you delicious grape breath (in case you decide to kiss someone after all).

In Russia...
Carrying an empty bucket, or even seeing someone carry one, is a bad omen. This is likely due to the fact that Tsar Alexander II was assassinated by a man with empty buckets for hands. True story.
Wikipedia
In Vermont...
Diagonally placed windows are referred to as "witch windows", due to the belief that witches can't fly their broomsticks through diagonal windows. The witch could still probably magic herself through the front door, but you'll make things a lot harder for her with these bad boys.

In Britain...
When you wake up on the first day of the month, saying the word "rabbit", or "rabbits", or "white rabbits", or any combination of these, gives good luck for the whole month. Make sure it's the very first word(s) you say, though, otherwise the whole thing's pointless and silly.

In Iceland...
You're advised to avoid knitting on your doorstep during the later months, as this will bring about a long winter. Why you'd choose to knit outside in the dead of winter at all is anyone's guess.

Gianni Jaccoma is an editorial assistant for Thrillist's Travel vertical, and will never kiss a baby on the lips ever again. Follow him on Twitter at @gjaccoma.

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