people avoid stepping on cracks or walking under ladders. Sound crazy?
Maybe. Yet these are only some examples of the many superstitions that
still exist today.
you have to do is think back to your childhood and remember some of
those odd things your grandmother may have done. Perhaps she pinned
a little red ribbon on your baby sister’s blouse before company
came to visit. Maybe you saw her hold up her forefinger and pinkie,
making a funny looking symbol with her hand. These are just a few
traditions stemming from the ancient idea of the “evil eye.”
in the evil eye is one of the most widespread in the world, practised
by cultures in the Western Mediterranean, North Africa, the Middle
East and Central Asia. Belief and control of the evil eye is also
central to most Italian folk beliefs and practices.
eye, or malocchio, is when someone looks at you or something
close to your heart with envy. They may, intentionally or not, put
a hex on you or your family. This is thought to result in illness,
poverty, injury or even death. It is said that to avoid accidentally
giving someone the evil eye you must spit after admiring someone or
are many things that can be done to ward off the evil eye. You can
do the mano cornuto behind your back. This involves making
your hand into a fist and extending your index and pinkie finger.
(But be careful to ensure it’s not visible because instead of
warding off a hex, it means the person it’s directed at has
a cheating spouse.) The popular hand symbol of the mano cornuto has
its origins as an ancient Italian amulet. Mano means “hand”
and corno means “horn.” The charm is a golden version
of the hand symbol and makes reference to the horned head of an animal.
of the horn is also popularly used as an amulet to protect from a
hex. Known as the cornuto, corno or cornicello
– cornicello means “little horn” – these names
refer to a long, gently twisted horn-shaped amulet. Cornicelli, usually
made from red coral, gold or silver, have become more stylized over
the years and barely resemble their animal origin. They are a culturally
popular amulet and are primarily found in Italy and in North America
among descendants of Italian immigrants. In some instances, the corno
has become a symbol of Italian pride.
devout Catholics disparage the continued use of cornicelli among religious
Italians and refer to them as “Satan’s” or “Lucifer’s
horns.” However, according to www.luckymojo.com, these little
horns (like the horns of many animals) are presumed to have once been
sacred to the old European moon goddess before the rise of Christianity.
As belief systems evolved, Catholic symbolism related the horns to
the Virgin Mary, who is often shown standing on a lunar crescent.
are other protections against the evil eye. If someone in your house
is born in January, your house will be safe. Also, wearing a hidden
red ribbon should suffice. But, if you can’t avoid it, there
is a cure used widely in small towns across Italy and Greece. It includes
saying incantations and placing a few drops of olive oil in a bowl
of water, which is sometimes salted. The oil may scatter, form into
blobs or sink to the bottom, and if read correctly will reveal the
source of the attack. Once this is done, more oil and incantations
can cure the hex.
amusing this all may seem, the enduring quality of these superstitions
suggest that perhaps there is something to them.