Italian Superstitions: Touch Yourself

This is the second installment of my Italian Superstitions series (for the first one, click here).

I had planned on eventually getting around to blogging about the superstition that I’m going to talk to you guys about today, but the other day I was talking to my Mom on the phone and I had mentioned this superstition to her. She thought it was so funny that she immediately yelled to my Aunt (who was visiting) “Get over here and listen to this!”. Being that it got such a good response from my Mom and Aunt, I was prompted to up this one to priority status on my list of things to write about and that’s why you guys are getting this lil’ gem right now.

The two ladies that got such a kick out of an Italian superstition: my Mom and Auntie Bev

So, in America we knock on wood to ward off evil, right? Well, in Italy they touch iron. Now, while that is a fun little fact to know about Italian culture, it isn’t really interesting enough to merit its own blog post and it’s certainly not what my Mom found to be so funny.

Grabbin’ myself, Michael Jackson style!

The thing that made my Mom laugh so hard is the other thing that Italians do which is equivalent to knocking on wood (or touching iron): touching themselves. Yes, you read that right. Italians touch themselves to ward off evil, and I’m not talking about touching their heads or noses or hearts. They touch their … *ahem* … intimate bits.

If someone says something like “I sure hope your house didn’t catch fire while you were out” to an Italian guy, he will grab his balls to avoid tempting fate. If someone says something like “Maybe your scratch will get infected and the doctors will have to amputate your entire arm” to an Italian girl, she will grab her left breast in order to assure that it doesn’t happen.

So guys, if you’re in Italy, it is perfectly acceptable to touch your testes if you want to keep evil things at bay. And ladies, make sure that it’s your left breast that you grab. I’m not sure what happens if you touch your right one, but I think when it comes to things like superstitions, it’s better not to take any risks.

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Italian Superstitions: Corno

Italians all say “we’re not superstitious“. Don’t believe them. That’s a lie. Italians are most definitely superstitious. Even some of the most sensible and logical Italians I know are still inexplicably superstitious.

I thought it’d be fun to kick off 2012 with the first in a series of posts based on Italians’ ideas on fortuna and sfortuna (good luck and bad luck). I always like to start on a positive note, so today let’s talk about good luck.

Red Coral Corno

The most popular Italian good luck charm is by far the corno (the horn).

The origin of the corno is said to stem from the Old European moon goddess, before the rise of Christianity, and it’s supposed to protect you from the dreaded evil eye.

The corno is traditionally made from reddish/pinkish coral that predominately grows in the Mediterranean sea surrounding Italy, and is worn around the neck as a charm. Although today you can see it in lots of forms including silver, gold, and even plastic key chain versions which you can easily find in any tacky souvenir shop in Italy.

Plastic Key Chain Corno

These good luck charms are so popular that you can see them in America too. If you’re Italo-American then you probably already know what I’m talking about. If you’re not, then go ask one of your friends with an Italian last name if they know about the corno. I’ll bet they do!

Now I’m not superstitious, but I do have a corno that I often wear. I’ve been living here a while now, and certain things have rubbed off on me!

Paired with my hairy chest, I’d say that it’s pretty darn Italian of me! :-)

My Corno

Do you guys have any preferred good luck charms? Leave me a comment and share yours!

Here’s to a 2012 filled with good luck for all my readers!