Superstitions by Lilah Raptopoulos 2005

Ever since I was old enough to communicate, I knew never to open an umbrella indoors. I was aware that setting shoes on a table was bad luck, and that I should never ever put a knife alone in the sink. I vividly remember a day in my grandmother’s house in which I bit the inside of my cheek while eating her delicious Armenian cheese boereg. “Oh don’t you worry,” she said when I cried out in pain, “It just means someone’s talking about you.” My family has always ingrained superstitions into our everyday lives. On Christmas one year, when I was spread out across the living room floor, my sister Vanessa stepped over me to reach for another present. “Step back over her!” I heard my mom demand. “If you don’t, she’ll never grow!” Similarly, my mom’s mother believed that if she found a penny face up, she should put it in her shoe. She had at least three pennies in each pair of pumps she owned.


These rituals and superstitions are not only followed in my house, but created. When I was five, Mom brought me to the window and pointed out at a deer grazing in the backyard of our farmhouse in Framingham. “These deer came the Christmas you were born, Lilah, and they’ve come back every year since.” From then on, deer were placed high on our list of good fortune. All of Mom’s children were born on a Thursday, quickly making Thursday a lucky day. Every time Elena fibbed she’d get the hiccups, thus anytime a hiccup is heard, it is clear that the individual has recently lied.


But the luck in the Raptopoulos family doesn’t stop there. The Greek “Mati,” or Evil Eye, protects you from bad luck. Pomegranates, fish charms, four leaf clovers, and even a bird excrement landing on you are good luck. The last bite of food on your plate is considered, simply, your “luck,” regardless of whether you’re hungry enough to eat it.


Flip over a Greek coffee and you can read your fortune from the grinds. When it’s 11:11, make a wish. When your ears ring suddenly, you can be sure that someone’s talking about you. Beliefs have been imbedded into my family in each step of its history, branching off through Greek and Armenian cultures and ending with my sisters and me. Whether we carry them on is now up to us.
While growing up, I always accepted these superstitions simply as the way we lived our lives. The day someone refused to step back over me, stating that my belief was immature and of course I would grow, didn’t discourage me. Although sometimes I try to think rationally, I just can’t see myself leaving a knife alone in the sink, or accepting a pair of scissors from someone hand to hand. It would be like an insult to my upbringing, and a disappointment to my family.


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