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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25 thoughts on “Italian Superstitions: Touch Yourself

  1. Maybe the men are, in fact, knocking on “wood”? I guess it depends if the ladies grabbed their left one yet, or not… heyyyyyooooo!

  2. ahahah no no the gesture it is not about horny Italians or such.
    I remembered I’ve red the meaning behind it on a book about ancient Latin culture.
    Well, at that time “fortune” was a concept bounded with the idea of “fertility”. They hoped for healthy children, for lands to be rich enough to give big harvests, for animals to breed, ect.
    So to indicate “let’s hope to be lucky, let’s hope misfortune step back this time”, they touched their groins/breasts, because these indicate “fertility”, therefore “fortune”.
    Plus, touching in public wasn’t judged indecent at the time, because sexuality was considered as something normal, not something to fear, as Christianity later spread.
    So, this is it. Just an old Latin superstitions Italians still do it! πŸ˜€

  3. Haha. I could say any excuse is a good one for Italian men…but I was totally unaware of the girl equivalent Garrett so thanks. But I think I’ll get continue to tempt fate myself. Can’t wait for the next instalment but you’ve set the bar pretty high with this one….;-)

    • The girls’ version is less well known and less practiced than the guys’ one (also because I think that guys, in general, are more predisposed to grabbing themselves than the fairer sex is). πŸ˜‰

      Thanks for your nice comment!

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