Superstitions in the Italian household
Italians are incredibly superstitious people. If you go to Naples you will see many little red horns hanging from the rear view mirror of cars and a black cat will literary stop all traffic until someone gormlessly passes the invisible line traced by the feline absorbing all the bad luck. Yet a spider in the house is a sign of good luck – ragno porta guadagno (spider brings earnings). We try to codify some of this Italian feng-shui
Rule #1: Have a fig tree in your garden. Not only the fruit is delicious, but it brings good luck to the house.
Rule #2: Don’t have 13 people seated together for dinner (the precedents didn’t look too rosy…)
Rule #3: Never say things are going well, because your luck might change (instead you can say “non c’e’ male” – nothing’s wrong)
Rule #4: Don’t spill salt or olive oil (it brings bad luck). If it happens you can throw some salt behind each shoulder (or dab some oil behind each ear) to exorcise the bad luck.
Rule #5: If someone asks for the salt to be passed, put it on the table in front of them rather than passing from hand to hand (not knowing this can bring a few awkward moments when you are holding out the salt mill and the person who asked for it does not reach out, but is too embarrassed to say otherwise)
Rule #6: Never ever toast with a glass of water, unless you are child. And don’t cross arms as you toast (or as you shake hands, oddly).
Rule #7: Don’t put a hat on a bed or a chair (no… neither do we…)
Rule #8: If the situation doesn’t look propitious don’t touch wood, touch metal (or somewhere more private!).
If you happen to be at dinner party where there are 13 place settings, salt has spilt, someone left a hat on a bed, the brindisi is looking dodgy and there is no fig tree outside, don’t panic, because you can keep the malocchio (evil eye) away, by reciting this Napoletan song: “Aglio, fravaglie, fatture ca nun quaglie corna, bicorna, cape ‘e alice e cape d’aglio.” (Garlic, small fish, the magic will not happen, horns, double horns, sardine heads and garlic heads)