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Brazil’s Long History of Luck and Superstition

Credit: Rennan Peixe / CC BY SA 4.0

Every country has its own take on good and bad luck, but few are as wide-ranging and exciting as that of Brazil. As a nation with strong cultural heritage not just within Rio, but the country as a whole, it was inevitable that there would be a few aspects held as charms of luck, for good or for evil. So read on to get a sense of what you should look out for, and maybe you'll be able to make your next day out all the more fortunate.

The Good

To start on a positive note, gaining good luck should probably be a safe jumping-off point. As something you can wear anywhere, a Figa charm is probably a good place to start. As Betway explains, these have been designed to help repel negative energy, while at the same time they store unused luck for when it is later needed. Don't just go out and purchase these for yourself; however, as to work properly, these should only be taken as a gift. As a bonus, these also happen to be attractive enough to be worn around proudly, which makes it just that much easier to receive their proposed benefits.

Moving onto the animal kingdom, we have some of the best-loved insects which stand as a symbol of luck not just in Brazil, but in many countries the world over. Specifically, these are white butterflies, though entomology enthusiasts should be aware that to qualify for good luck there are conditions. According to Culture Trip, this can only be gained if you manage to see a while butterfly as the first you see in a new year. Those dedicated could consider spending their new year’s celebrations close to gardens, to reap good luck as soon as possible.


Credit: Flickr / Tony Hisgett / CC BY 2.0

Speaking of New Year’s celebrations, there is another tradition here which Brazilian culture dictates could be your way to good fortune. Again this comes down to the colour white, which should be worn over the changing of the calendar to help give those involved a better year. Symbolising what Rio Times Online calls hope and renewal, this icon of peace is thought to guide people to a better year than the one just passed. Finally, for those lucky enough to have a home within Brazil to decorate, there is a decorative tip which is easily used to help push away bad luck. Simply leave a pot with a little rock-salt in the corner of a room to help scare away bad luck, though it should be noted than knocking over these containers could undo the effect.

The Bad

While there are many superstitions which might make us appear more than a little odd to the more sceptical, there are some lousy practices which should be avoided on their own merits. One of these is the act of leaving your purse or money bag on the floor, which is thought to bring about poor financial fortune in the times to come. Given that this also makes a purse easier to forget or get stolen, this is one of those practices which we are probably all better off following. When entering or exiting a home, there are also a couple of key superstitions which play a key part in how luck could shake out. First, to avoid bad luck, a person must enter and exit through doorways with their right foot. Secondly, it is thought that a related action should be both entering and exiting a building through the same doorway. We would make an exception in the case of fires, but as a general practice, this is an idea to keep in mind.

These aren’t the only home-superstitions to avoid either, as keeping a broom behind the front door is thought to bring about bad visitors, or even negatively influence the mood of liked visitors.


Credit: Flickr / Marco Verch/ CC BY 2.0

The last thing to keep in mind is a tradition which is seen in many societies the world over – avoid walking underneath ladders. Not only is this thought to bring bad luck, but the act itself makes good sense, as ladders can be unstable, and moving them even when unoccupied can make them unsteady for the next user.

So Why is Brazil so Superstitious?

A lot of this comes down to the highly religious nature of the country, and the long history of folklore it contains. Stories passed down from generation to generation not only entertain, but they also help pass on values and ideas. Even if many of these would make little sense to a sceptic, there is no denying the effect they can have on our appreciation on history and our sense of community both.

Keeping these in mind is also a great way for visitors to ingratiate themselves to locals, which is something our readers might want to keep in mind for their next visit to the Land of the Holy Cross.

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