I take note when a black cat crosses the street and I still feel bad about that mirror I broke two years ago. Is it the explanation for my bad luck in love and am I to wait another five years until the wind changes? Well well, just kidding… I did break the mirror though.
I’m not a superstitious person and I’m not familiar with too many superstitions anyway. I am very fascinated by these supernatural, magical explanations. Here are some examples of magical thinking that I’ve come across with here in Turkey.
The Evil Eye amulets are a common sight here in Turkey. They are often hung on top of doors, inside cars and incorporated in bracelets and necklaces. Last week I spotted this one on the ear of a dog.
The charms, nazar boncuğu, are shaped as the evil eye in order to ward off the evil magic that is The Evil Eye or nazar. As I understand it, The Evil Eye is a magical power that is summoned with an envious or malevolent glance. It can cause misfortune and injury to the (often unsuspecting) victim.
The charms remind me of places like Çesme where some trees were decorated with countless of these charms. An amazing sight!
The other day in the metro there was a lady with an autistic boy who was getting restless in his seat. I overheard a stranger chatting up the lady. “He was fine until he was four years old, I don’t know why this happened to him. Must be nazar”, the lady explained to the stranger.
Once I got a well meaning wish “Nazar değmesin”, “May you not be touched by The Evil Eye.”
Fortune telling from coffee grounds
Predicting your friend’s future from her coffee grounds is quite a popular past time here. Apparently there are some complicated rules to how you are supposed to do it. It’s not as simple as it seems.
When a friend of mine interpreted my cup for the first time I felt quite amused. I’d had my future told from my palm before but it was never quite as elaborate as my friend’s performance with the coffee grounds. The situation reminded me of Emma Thompson in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. And sure enough after she was done it was my turn to take a deep breath and channel my inner Sybil Trelawney.
One day I noticed a new bracelet on my flatmate’s wrist and asked where he’d gotten it from. He told me that it was a gift from his coworker and that it had a special purpose. If upon seeing a white stork fly on the sky you were to throw the bracelet in the air and simultaneously make a wish, your wish would be granted. How oddly specific, I thought.
I suspected my dear flatmate was just trying to trick me into believing in the whackiest think he could come up with. However when I mentioned the superstition in the office, my boss identified it as the Martenitsa tradition which comes from Bulgaria. Therefore it is more common in the northern part of the country. Fair enough!
And of course I have to mention horoscopes! There seems to be a huge appetite for astrology here. If someone can point me to some studies about the prevalence of astrological beliefs around the world I would love to read more on that.
When I turn to my friend on some certain topics I get answers like “You just have to check your star sign compatibility, Katri. It makes all the difference.” In response I just smile, bite my lip and say thanks, canım, for your advice.