Out of curiosity - Gestures and beliefs

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by Silvia, Nov 27, 2004.

  1. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    Hi all,

    I was not sure about the title of this thread, but I couldn't come up with a better one :p

    Anyway, I noticed that in Italy some people, especially older ones, have the habit/custom to make the sign of the cross when they pass by a cemetery.

    Does anything like that happen in other countries? Does anyone know of a similar or other type of gesture on other occasions? I'm not talking of offensive gestures, just odd ones.

    Thank you!
     
  2. belén

    belén Ex-Moderator

    Spain
    Spanish, Spain, Catalan, Mallorca
    In Spain, usually old people crosses oneself when passing by a church. My grandma used to make me do that when I was a little girl...

    Silvia, isn't there something in Italy with nuns, something people do when nuns pass by? Or when a hunchbacked person passes by? I don't know why this comes to my mind. Something little kids do to each other, like a game...

    I'll think of more stuff, this is interesting!!

    Cheers,
    B
     
  3. DDT

    DDT Senior Member

    Paris, France
    Italy - Italian
    Well, some Italian men are in the habit of making a gesture which I cannot report when they see one or more nuns :D ;)
    The soft version is to say "Una sorella un'ora bella" which means (sorry the rhyme is lost in English) "One sister one beautiful hour"

    DDT
     
  4. badger

    badger Senior Member

    Dublin, Ireland
    Ireland, English speaker
    Morning sil bel and D.

    Here in Ireland people cross themselves...
    when passing a church,
    if a funeral passes them by,
    if an ambulance with sirens passes them by,
    if they hear terrible news,
    if they hear good news and expected bad,
    and I can't recall about the cemetry but I think they probable do.

    I can't think of other gestures.

    It's a nice little thread.

    Badger. :)

    I'll have to start using my full name, because some foreros didn't realise that it was short for badger and thought that "bad" was a comment.
     
  5. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    What is it?!!! I have no idea!

    About hunchback, I guess that has to do with superstition, it is said that touching a hunchback will bring you luck, so if you're superstitious you can tap his/her back.
     
  6. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    A gesture for nuns?! That must be because I'm not a man :eek: I've never heard that expression either! :rolleyes:
     
  7. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    Hi dear Badger,

    I didn't know Irish people could make the sign of the cross so often. Now I recall what a classmate once told me. This is a real story happened around 14 years ago. He was on vacation in the South of Italy (Calabria) and he didn't have a haircut. While in a small village, some old women looked at him and made the sign of the cross! :D I admit he was not that handsome :p but a sign of the cross made him look like he was the devil! Who knows...
     
  8. badger

    badger Senior Member

    Dublin, Ireland
    Ireland, English speaker
    As I think about, the scene that you describe could just as easily have happened here in Ireland. And the women would have probably said "God forbid in all harm". This was a common expression, and would have also been said with my earlier reference to bad news.

    A very common expression in my boyhood but gradually disappearing.

    b :)

    By the way.
    I'm not dear (expensive), you can have me at a special cheap rate he he he :D
     
  9. tim Junior Member

    Australia, English
    Don't know about the sign of the cross, but kids in Australia play a type of "game" when going past a cemetary. Namely, they throw their arms in the air and hold their breath until they pass it. This is all very wel and good when driving along a freeway, but on one occasion walking past a nearby necropolis I remember quite a few blue faces, lol.
     
  10. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    Hi Tim,
    Who holds the steering wheel while the driver's arms are in the air?
     
  11. Jade Senior Member

    Valencia
    german - spanish
    Bon dia!

    People do this in Spain in all kind of situations.

    Have you ever seen a torero when he gets dressed before going out to the bull ring?

    Jade



     
  12. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    Buon giorno Silvia,
    As if the recent elections didn't provide adequate proof of the "odd ones" over here, there is further evidence...
    In parts of the Mid-west, including at very least Wisconsin, when young people are driving, and an approaching car is a "one eye", meaning only one of the headlights is working, the passenger is supposed to kiss the driver! In my distant memories, I don't recall the penalty for failing to do so, or what happens if both front seat passengers are either male or female.

    Cuchu
     
  13. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    That was a good one!

    Are you offering for free? :D

    I hate doing the chores :p
     
  14. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    What?!!! :eek: Let me get this straight. If I'm driving a one eye car in the Mid-west, what does happen to me?! :rolleyes: Do I have to kiss anyone? Or just in case there's a passenger in my car?

    And I thought Americans were puritans :D
     
  15. zebedee

    zebedee the manamana mod

    Valencia - Spain
    Gt. Britain - English
    I remember when I was a kid we used to lift our feet off the ground when an ambulance drove past, which is fine if you're sitting down but...
     
  16. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    Zeb :D Luckily you're not a kid anymore ;)
     
  17. zebedee

    zebedee the manamana mod

    Valencia - Spain
    Gt. Britain - English
    Who thayth?
     
  18. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    Silvia--I have no idea what goes on in the one eye car. Note the word 'approaching' in my last post.

    Yes, Americans are Puritans, except when they don't feel like it!

    Cuchu
     
  19. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    You?

    You said... "I remember when I was a kid" ;)
     
  20. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    I thought you knew everything! :D
     
  21. badger

    badger Senior Member

    Dublin, Ireland
    Ireland, English speaker
    Hi again sil.

    We used the term "Bless themselves" in days gone by, probably still do but I haven't noticed.

    I'll be listening out for it now.


    A hug

    (From a reasonably priced.)

    Badger. :)
     
  22. amarena New Member

    pimlico, london
    italy, Italian, tuscany
    Dear Silviap,
    actually, for what I know, if the hunchback is a man, in Italy it is sign of good luck, if it is a woman it's the opposite...This makes me think of the old tradition for New Year's day in Tuscany (probably in some other regions as well): when you get up in the morning and you o to the window, if a woman sees a man it's good luck, if she sees a woman it's bad luck for the year to come, BUT generally the important thig is that a man not of the family will come and visit on New Year's day, first: this is considered a good sign for the whole family!
    Not politically correct, but....
     
  23. Lancel0t

    Lancel0t Senior Member

    Philippines
    Philippines - Filipino/English
    Hello there!

    Greetings from the Philippines! Here in our country we Catholics (in any age)don't do that but we do the sign of the cross when we pass by a church to show respect to the house of God. :)
     
  24. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    Hi LancelOt, that's not a usual thing where I live.

    amarena, I didn't know the hunchback thing was sexist! Anyway, I guess we're off topic now! I was asking about odd/traditonal/habit/custom gestures... superstition is full of those though.
     
  25. Lancel0t

    Lancel0t Senior Member

    Philippines
    Philippines - Filipino/English
    hi there silviap,

    here in our country we have lots of superstitious beliefs that until now most people still believe on those. And i know that we inherited those from our diffirent nations. Are you interested to know these superstitious beliefs?
     
  26. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    Sure, why not?! Go for it! This thread doesn't even have a real title!
     
  27. kopol342 Junior Member

    Wisconsin
    USA/ English
    In America kids hold their breath when passing by a cemetary as well. I never did it though because I can't hold my breath that long. I'm not much for superstition either. There was one really strange superstition that I remember from when I was in Spain. There it is considered good luck when you step in dog poop! I figured it was because there was so much of it, you have a really good chance at good luck.
    I was in Valladolid, so maybe it's different in different parts of Spain.
     
  28. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    Oh well, that's considered good luck in Italy, too. I guess it's because it's such a nuisance that you really need to find something positive about it! :D

    About holding breath, why do you think they do that?
     
  29. kopol342 Junior Member

    Wisconsin
    USA/ English
    I'm from Wisconsin and that's not how I learned it... the "one eye" means that your'e supposed to say "piddidle" and hit the roof of the car. I do not know the significance of this, but it's what I've learned. Also, if there is a vehicle with wood panneling along the side, it's a "woody" and you can punch any person nearby. I never liked that one
     
  30. belén

    belén Ex-Moderator

    Spain
    Spanish, Spain, Catalan, Mallorca

    Oh, yes, actually, the poop thing is considered good luck, even in France, when they want to wish you good luck they say "Lots of shit" (excuse me, but it's true) and I've heard it in Spain as well..
    When you step on dog's poop, people tell you "oh, now you are going to win the lottery", this is an example of seeingthe bottle half full, huh? :)

    Now, the positive part of the story, I don't know when you were in Spain, Kopol, but I am happy to tell you that for the last years, we have becomed very civilized and now almost all dog owners pick them up. In most cities you find special trash cans with small plastic bags for that purpose.
    But I remember the times when you had to always look down at the sidewalk in order to lose the lottery but at least save your shoes from disaster...

    Cheers,
    Be
     
  31. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    That makes me think of similar things here in Italy. When a certain event happens, you have to say some specific word or phrase, either for good luck or just cause it's funny. This is a really odd one: when two people say the very same thing at the very same time, they either say 'chips' or touch their own nose, or both together. Very informal, if not childish. I wonder who started all this!
     
  32. kopol342 Junior Member

    Wisconsin
    USA/ English
    lol, I didn't mean to imply that Europe was uncivilized! I was actually there from January-June of this year and even though there are places to dispose of poop, not everyone does their part...there as well as here in the U.S! In Valladolid, there weren't many grassy areas for the dogs so the sidewalks often became the prefered place to poop I guess.
    That isn't the only thing I remember about Europe either, it was just something funny. They also have a different "superstitious day" than us. In the U.S. Friday the 13th is a superstitious day, but in Spain (and I think other European countries) it is Tuesday the 13th..stemming from Martes (which is the name of a God of war or something) Also, actors are superstitious about the color yellow in spain, and that is not the case here.
    These are just some differences I noticed... I loved Europe though- I made it to Italy, Portugal, Germany, and England as well... I'm coming back some day!
     
  33. kopol342 Junior Member

    Wisconsin
    USA/ English
    In the U.S when two people say the same thing at the same time you say "jinx" and then whoever didn't say Jinx can't talk until someone says their name three times. My brother and I always played that game and I loved it when you couldn't talk!
     
  34. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    Ok, ok, maybe I'll change the title of this thread into Superstitions! :D

    Kopol, just fyi, in Italy that day is Friday 17th, and the color is purple. If we had to talk about superstition in Italy, I can tell thousands of examples... but I guess at least no one takes that seriously, it's merely a game. Just some examples. Seeing a black cat crossing the street, breaking a mirror, passing under a ladder, these are all said to bring bad luck. Ladybugs and spiders are supposed to bring good luck. It's unreal how some traditions survive through the centuries...
     
  35. Lems

    Lems Senior Member

    São Paulo
    Brazil - Brazilian Portuguese
    In Brazil it is pretty much the same among catholics, specially when passing by a church. I guess it has to do with the catholic religion rather than to countries...

    Lems
    ______________________________________________
    Things are more like they used to be than they are now.
    :rolleyes:
     
  36. zebedee

    zebedee the manamana mod

    Valencia - Spain
    Gt. Britain - English
    In Britain, seeing a black cat cross your path brings GOOD luck, and in Spain it's bad luck like in Italy. We also did the "jinx" thing when I was a kid, which developed into: "Jinx, personal jinx", meaning you couldn't speak until someone said your name to 'free' you from the spell. Then it developed into: "jinx, personal jinx and no returns to me" which is quite a mouthful if you have to be the first one to say it: "jinxpersonaljinxandnoreturnstome!". In Spain you say:"Filipinas".
     
  37. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    Now I'm amused! Such odd things!

    By the way Lems, making the sign of the cross while passing by a church is not a Catholic custom, at least I've never noticed it in Italy. That's probably because we have so many churches that you should do that every 3 seconds!

    Anyway, I wanted to point out that my question is not about religious gestures, nor superstitious ones. For example I saw one made by American actors(US), that is while they're speaking they raise their hands and make a sign like quotes or inverted commas. I'm not sure why they do that. Is that a frequent sign?
     
  38. Janna82 Senior Member

    Jordan/Arabic, English
    I'm not quite sure about it, but Americans do raise their hands and make the quotes sign, when they want to talk about something as "between brackets". for example, when explaining something, and saying it in "other words"..
    But if I'm wrong........... it's nice if someone would correct me :)
     
  39. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    Let's wait and see!
     
  40. belén

    belén Ex-Moderator

    Spain
    Spanish, Spain, Catalan, Mallorca
    Yes, they use it in the same way as you would use the quotes sign in written language.

    And if you can't see their face (on the phone, on the radio) they say "quote----unquote"
     
  41. Chaucer Senior Member

    US inglés/español
    Interesting, my brother the atheist, would love this thread. He doesn't hesitate to tell my mother, "Why do you have to make the sign of the cross all the time? It's just a superstition." He'll love this site. He sees making the sign of the cross as being on the same continuum as all the superstitions you have naturally evolved into including in this thread.
     
  42. amarena New Member

    pimlico, london
    italy, Italian, tuscany
    And I can add many more, as my grandmother was a very superstitious person and taught me many of these traditional signs of good/bad luck. I said something about New Years'Day, and I will add a few more, which now my husband and kids recognise as welll.
    Apparently, getting married on Friday/Tuesday or leaving for a trip/starting sometning on these days is bad luck ("Di Venere e di Marte non si sposa, non si parte e non si mette l'ago all'arte": On the days of Venus and Mars don't get married, don't leave or don't start a new job). While in UK you should never put your shoes on the table (new box of shoes for example), as I have learned while leaving here, in Tuscany you should never put your hat on the bed , or your money (we say that if you put money on the bed it means that you will spend them for a bad cause, es: medicines...!)
    Are there similar beliefs in other regions of Italy?
    Buona domenica!
    Annalisa
     
  43. belén

    belén Ex-Moderator

    Spain
    Spanish, Spain, Catalan, Mallorca
    With Annalisa's post, I remembered some as well. My grandma was the one who told me all this

    En martes ni te cases ni te embarques
    Don't get married or take plane/boat on a tuesday

    Never leave scissors opened
    Never leave a drawer opened - according to my granma, it calls Death
    Never open an umbrella inside a house
    Never (this is the weirdest thing) turn a bag around. Like sometimes you grab a plastic bag by both ends and rotate it very fast, so that the opened end will roll. (difficult to explain)
    Don't leave your purse on the floor - you will lose your money
     
  44. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    Never step on a crack in the sidewalk, and never forget to put a meaningful title on a new thread?;)
     
  45. te gato

    te gato Senior Member

    Calgary, Alberta
    Alberta--TGE (te gato English)
    Here...

    We cross ourselves when a funeral car goes by...and cross our fingers when going by a cemetery...
    If you say a V.W bug car you got to punch someone..very hard..and say 'punch buggy..no return'...

    Never put new shoes on a counter...invites the Devil in your house...
    Never walk under a ladder..bad luck..
    Never step on a spider...makes it rain...
    Black cats crossing your path..bad luck...
    Never break a mirror..seven years bad luck...
    Never give a wallet as a gift without putting a penny in it...bad luck..

    te gato;)
     
  46. Lancel0t

    Lancel0t Senior Member

    Philippines
    Philippines - Filipino/English
    Does it mean that Filipinas is bad luck to Spain? I'm just curious.
     
  47. mirandolina

    mirandolina Senior Member

    Padua, Italy
    Scotland - English
    Silvia, I think I once heard that when you see a hunchback you have to touch a button to keep away bad luck (I mean a button on your own clothes, not on the hunchback). Have you ever heard of that?


     
  48. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    No, never, mirandolina. I'm assuming that comes from the Veneto region? I'll ask around and let you know ;)
     
  49. amarena New Member

    pimlico, london
    italy, Italian, tuscany
    Dear Silvia and Mirandolina: I have read the things you write about hunchbacks. In Tuscany, we don't touch buttons etc, but we believe, very maschilistically, that a man with a hunchback is lucky and that a woman with a hunchback is very unlucky! So, if yu see a man, it means good luck, especially if you touch his back, but if you see a woman, then you have to do all the "gestures" of the case to scare bad luck away...
     
  50. zebedee

    zebedee the manamana mod

    Valencia - Spain
    Gt. Britain - English
    I doubt it very much! It's just a kids' thing that you do when 2 people say the same thing at the same time. I don't think it has anything to do with luck either good or bad!
    Do kids say anything in a similar situation in the Filipinas?

    zeb
     

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