The world is a mysterious place, and a lot of superstitious folk live in it. The first recorded use of the word is in the 15th century. Although people have undoubtedly been practicing superstitious beliefs since we first evolved some two million years ago. From a nationwide yo-yo ban to a cursed Colonel Sanders statue, we’ve here picked three of the strangest superstitious beliefs from around the world. Enjoy!
Zombie Gum (Turkey)
Chewing Gum has been around in one form or another since 4000BC. The six-thousand-year-old tree-resin-based gum was found in Kierikki in Finland. One place they may not be so popular however, is Turkey.
According to one morbid piece of Turkish folklore, should you pop some gum at night you may actually find yourself chewing on the flesh of the dead.
You should particularly avoid date nights, or other romantic engagements even if you are willing to risk it otherwise. Maybe you should pass on that minty stick if you’re ever in Turkey and opt for some mouthwash instead.
Yo-Yo No (Syria)
To your average global citizen, there isn’t much mystery around the humble Yo-Yo. The first evidence of a spinning disk on a string in use comes from Ancient Greek pottery. But it wasn’t until the 1930s that the modern yo-yo took off around the world, first popularised commercially by a Filipino immigrant to the USA called Pedro Flores. By 1933 they had reached the streets of Damascus, Syria – where they proved not so popular among the government.
The locals superstitiously believed that the introduction of the spinning toy had caused a severe drought. They claimed that the up and down motion of the yo-yo in the hand was counteracting the effects of their prayers for rain. Religious leaders petitioned the prime-minister for a total ban, on the 21st of January 1933 he enforced it and the very next day Police roamed the streets confiscating yo-yos.
Three on a Match (Western World)
There are competing theories as to how this well-known superstition started, but it was first popularised by soldiers in the period between the Crimean War and World War I. The basis of the idea is that three people using the same match is unlucky. If the enemy spotted three soldiers lighting up in the trenches, by the time the third leaned in to use the match he would be the one to get shot.
Some have suggested that the so called ‘Match King’ Ivan Kreuger, of the early 20th century was responsible for this rumour in an attempt to drive up match sales. His promotional material may made use of it, but the belief almost certainly predates his birth. Another theory attributes it to Mexican Soldiers in Rio Grande, Texas. Whatever the origins, the three on a match superstition continues around the world to this day – often far removed from its deathly wartime origins.