10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy

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Every country has their own culture. Delving into that culture is one of the reasons I enjoy travel. And every country has their own superstitions.

On my trip to Italy in 2017, accompanied by my daughter Elissa and grandson Dayan, I experienced one of Italy’s good luck traditions first hand. That funny and somewhat startling event inspired me to discover more.

Here are 10 good luck traditions from Italy.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy title meme

The Importance of Learning Culture

After doing my research, I wish I’d known more about these Italian superstitions before my trip. Why? Because knowing them prevents inadvertently offending with my actions or inaction. Or at the least, keeps me from appearing insensitive or ignorant.

Superstitious traditions are woven throughout culture, even if they are no longer perceived in the same way that ancestors believed. The United States observes many superstitions that have become part of our culture. Knocking on wood, beginner’s luck, and find a penny, pick it up all come to mind. Some superstitions are almost universal. Black cats can’t catch a break anywhere because of their supposed association with witches long ago.

The following good luck traditions from Italy are fun to know and carry importance because they teach us more about the Italian people.

Pooped on by a Bird

This is the superstition I had the honor of experiencing!

While our wonderful tour guide Fabiola completed purchases to surprise us with later, the group settled on benches outside the gate of the medieval village of San Gimignano. A large leafy tree provided ample shade as we chatted about our exploration of the village.

As Fabiola strolled toward us with her bags, we gathered our belongings and prepared to board the bus. Suddenly I felt something hit me, on the shoulder and arm. Looking up, I spied a bird directly above me in the tree. Glancing back at my arm, I realized that bird pooped on me.

I made a sound of disgust. However, Fabi and some of the others cheered and clapped their hands.

When a bird poops on you in Italy, it is a symbol of good luck. It means you’ve been singled out for good fortune. Visiting a casino is considered the next best move after such a blessing from above.

People came up to me and rubbed my shoulder, to transfer my good fortune to themselves. One dear woman handed me a package of wipes. Bless her.

10 Good Luck Traditions in Italy bird poop
10 Good Luck Traditions in Italy – bird poop

Tocco Ferro – Touch Iron

In the US we knock on wood for good luck. In Italy, they touch iron. Some even carry a nail with them so that iron always remains within reach. A rusty nail is especially lucky. And like Americans, a metal horseshoe hung on or above a door, with the open ends pointing up, brings good luck to the household.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy touch iron
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – touch iron
10 Good Luck Traditions form Italy - cornicello
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – cornicello charm

Carry a Cornicello Charm

A cornicello resembles a small horn or chili pepper. It represents the horns of the Old European Moon Goddess. Cornicellos are sold predominately in the Naples area, although they are available throughout Italy.

Carrying or wearing a cornicello protects from the curse of the Evil Eye, which is the look a jealous or envious person gives, and from bad luck in general. The charms also hang from the rearview mirrors of vehicles, based on the older custom of using them to protect draft horses, and in houses.

Cornicello also refers to a hand gesture in Italy, used similarly to ward off evil. Gold and silver hand charms are sold as well.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – cornicello hand charm

Lucky Number 13

The Italians consider 13 a very lucky number. It is associated with the Goddess of Fertility and represents prosperity and abundance.

However, the Italians have their unlucky number too. For them, the number 17 is extremely unlucky. The Roman numerals XVII rearrange to create the word VIXI, an Italian word for “I have lived”. That phrase is commonly used on tombstones and therefore, connected with death.

10 Good Luck Traditions in Italy - 13
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – lucky number 13

Bocca al Lupo – In the Mouth of the Wolf

The Italians don’t like to say the words “good luck” to each other. Similar to the American expression “break a leg” which is another way of saying good luck, the Italians say “bocca al lupo”. This expression means “in the mouth of the wolf”. The correct response is “crepi”, which means “let it die” or “wolf, die”.

10 Good Luck Traditions in Italy bocca al lupo
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – bocca al lupo

Spilling Salt or Olive Oil

Many cultures believe the superstition that spilling salt brings bad luck. One origin story suggests that at one time, salt was a valuable commodity. Spilling it created waste and perhaps bad luck followed such misfortune.

And consider da Vinci’s The Last Supper. In that painting Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus, is portrayed as knocking over the salt container. And no one wants an association with Judas.

In Italy it’s considered unfortunate if you spill salt OR olive oil. To counter the effects, one must toss the spilled salt over the left shoulder and dab olive oil behind each ear.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy salt
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – tossing spilled salt over the shoulder

House Blessings

Speaking of salt, Italians may bless their homes by putting salt in the corners. Salt cleanses the house by absorbing any negative energy or toxins.

Leave the salt for a few hours and then vacuum  or sweep it up.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy San Gimignano
Good Luck Traditions from Italy – salt in the corner of houses, like these in San Gimignano

New Brooms

This tradition connects to houses as well. Sweep away old bad luck when moving into a new home, using a brand new broom. Just don’t sweep over the feet of a single person. If you do, he or she may never be swept off their feet by love.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy broom
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – new broom

Good Luck Herbs

In Italy herbs assist with creating good luck.

Bay laurel leaves protect wearers from bad luck while helping them fulfill their dreams. Graduates often still wear laurel leaf crowns to represent good fortune. The bay laurel leaf symbolizes acquired wisdom as well.

And basil wards off poverty, which many consider an evil.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy laurel leaves
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – bay laurel leaves

New Year’s Eve Traditions

These two Italian New Year’s Eve traditions sound intriguing!

After Christmas, red underwear, for men and women, goes on sale. These garments, worn on New Year’s Eve only, bring good luck for the upcoming year. Red is the color of fertility as well and important to couples hoping for a baby in the new year.

And the Italians eat lentils on New Year’s Eve. The coin like shape of the lentils represents money and prosperity for the upcoming year.

10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy lentils
10 Good Luck Traditions from Italy – lentils on New Year’s Eve

Favorite Good Luck Traditions

Did you know about these superstitions, popular in Italy? I enjoyed learning more about them. The warm, friendly people of Italy sprinkle many expressions throughout their language, that beautifully capture life. I love their perspectives and their traditions.

I know I have readers from around the world. What good luck traditions do you practice? I’d love to know!

Researching Italian good luck traditions for this blog post brought fortune my way. Inspiration compels me to write another post, perfect for the end of the year. Perhaps the bird poop blessing continues…

The gate into San Gimignano
The gate into San Gimignano, Italy.

Check out these other Tales from Italy posts:

Lions of Venice

The Bridge of Sighs

Things You May Not Know About Michelangelo’s David

 


 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

A change I’ve observed this year, for many people, is the desire to simplify their lives. The months spent at home, the extra time with family, growing gardens and cooking at home more created…or perhaps satisfied…a longing for simplicity.

The first week in August brings with it National Simplify Your Life Week. This holiday encourages us to refocus our lives by decluttering and eliminating anything that causes stress or anxiety. The decluttering isn’t just physical. Clearing space happens on an emotional and spiritual level as well.

Simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy. It can feel challenging to follow through with making changes in our lives, even changes that ultimately bring greater joy and deeper peace.

Here are 20 ways to simplify your life, to get you started. Most of these changes require little effort beyond putting practices into place. Some you probably already do.

 

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life title meme

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life

Perhaps you find yourself longing for a more simple way of life. Or perhaps you are enjoying the new simplicity that you’ve adopted this year and feel ready for more changes. Try a few or all of these suggestions.

Set Monthly or Weekly or Daily Goals

Rather than making New Year’s resolutions or crafting a long list of goals for the year, break them down into more manageable goals. Try setting one to three goals for the month. Then add actions steps for the week. And finally, prioritize what’s most important, daily, to accomplish.

These shorter range goals help you accomplish more, creating satisfaction while developing new habits and practices that bring you greater joy.

Create a Daily List of your Most Important Things To Do

If you are a list maker, like me, you might enjoy adding everything for the day to your list, just for the joy of crossing it off.

If list making isn’t your thing, try jotting down your top three priorities for each day and focus on those. Nothing else gets done, until those three priorities are crossed off. Once those big items are completed, you have time and energy to focus on other things, if you want to.

Create Systems

You can create a streamlined system for just about anything and put it into place. This might include a cleaning schedule that’s simple yet effective. Or a food prep system. Whatever you find yourself doing repeatedly, streamline it with a system to free up time for other things.

As a blogger, the best system I’ve created thus far is to plan out and schedule all my blog posts and social media posts a month in advance. I’ve been doing this since last October and I’m amazed at how much time it saves me. As each month draws to a close, I create the next month, filling in a notebook page for both blogs and their corresponding social media pages.

What tasks could you streamline by creating a system?

Use Your Phone’s Calendar to Set Reminders

That smart phone is a handy way to keep track of appointments or tasks. I use mine to schedule everything from meeting with people to turning in assignments to listening to a podcast. You can set an alarm too, five minutes to an hour before the event, so that you don’t miss it.

I also use the notes section on my phone for all kinds of things such as capturing ideas, saving info or dictating a blog post. Sometimes I wonder about something, as I’m driving. I’ll ask a question and save it in my notes until I can check on it later. Often the answer arrives to my question without any further effort on my part. I love it when that happens!

Anything that you can move from your brain to paper or a electronic device frees up the mind to then focus on other things.

Unsubscribe from Emails and Create a Follow Up Folder

This is something I am currently working on. An overwhelming number of emails flood my inboxes every day. I’m talking about hundreds of emails daily. I can’t keep up with them and sadly, most of them are not important to me anyway.

I’m currently unsubscribing from anything that I’m no longer interested in or never signed up for anyway. It’s a slow process however Google is now assisting me by showing me emails from companies that I’ve not opened in the last 30 days and asking me if I want to unsubscribe. Yes. Yes I do.

For emails that I want to come back to and respond to I have a Follow Up Folder that I move them to. It’s easy then to find them rather than having to scroll through lots and lots of emails.

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life list
20 Ways to Simplify Your Life – make lists and systems and follow them

Declutter Your House One Room at a Time

Clutter clogs energy. As clutter accumulates in a room, it changes the flow of energy. Soon you’ll find yourself avoiding that room or tossing more stuff in there and then closing the door on it.

Free up the flow of energy and feel better in your own home by systematically decluttering a room at a time. Start with one room and don’t move on to the next room until that room is finished. Use the three piles method as you clear the room: throw away pile, give away pile, keep pile. Then throw away, give away and find a place for everything in the keep pile.

Organize Your Closets and Drawers

After you declutter a room, tackle the closets and drawers in that room too. Use the same three pile method of dealing with all that’s in those closets and drawers. I love Marie Kondo’s method of holding items to see if they spark joy. If they do, keep them. If they don’t, give them away or throw them away.

Marie offers wonderful suggestions for organizing closets, drawers and spaces. Pick up her book HERE.

You will LOVE the way your rooms and ultimately your home feel after a good decluttering and re-organization.

Have a Place for Everything

And put everything in its place. A recent study suggests that we spend the equivalent of 12 days a year, looking for things we can’t find. Bring simplicity into your life and stop wasting time searching for lost items. When everything has a place, it’s easy to locate it, use it and put it back.

Simplify Your Wardrobe

How many of your clothes do you actually wear? Simplify your wardrobe by eliminating all the clothes you no longer wear, for whatever reason. Donate clothing to shelter closets or organizations that resell them. Or sale them yourself through apps like Poshmark.

Using Marie’s “does it spark joy?”, sort through clothes and keep only those that bring you joy. If you haven’t worn it in a year, will you ever? Create a capsule wardrobe of pieces that work well together.

I love the sustainable clothing movement that encourages us to buy less throw away type clothing, focusing instead on quality pieces that last for years. Buy less. Buy sustainable. Purchase clothing from second hand shops. Repurpose clothing. It’s all better for the pocket book and it’s better for the planet as well.

Buy Less, Consume Less, Waste Less

Beyond clothing, in what other areas can you spend less, waste less, consume less? I’m working on eliminating single use plastics from my home and life by using more glass and metal items.

I’m also finding ways to reuse and repurpose items so that I’m buying less throw away materials. These practices not only simplify life they benefit the environment and the planet.

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life plastics
20 Ways to Simplify Your Life – eliminate plastics

Eat More Whole Foods

Eating more whole foods, such as fruits, veggies, simple grains and herbs simplifies life and improves health at the same time. Trust me, an unhealthy life is complicated and time consuming.

Eating healthier meals can be as simple as veggie bowls, fruit smoothies, stir fries and chopped veggie salads. I can make a meal on a bowl of watermelon!

Prep Food

Food prep once a week streamlines the cooking process, freeing up time for other things. Spend an hour on Sunday afternoon washing, chopping and preparing food, then store everything in the refrigerator. I love the ease and convenience of having foods ready to go in the fridge.

Invest in an instant pot and a slow cooker to make meal preparation easier.

Carry a Water Bottle Everywhere

We all know we need to drink more water. Make it simple to get enough water by having it with you, always. Invest in a metal water container to eliminate plastic use. Check out these colorful choices below! Click on the photo for more info or to purchase.

 

Stop Hanging Out with Toxic People

Make room in your life for people who are in alignment with who you are and who encourage you. None of us have time for people who are toxic, who berate or belittle or disrespect who we are.

In her book Untamed, Glennon Doyle compares setting boundaries to living on an island. No one comes onto your island unless you allow them to. Don’t allow toxic people to bring negative energy into your space.

Slow Down

If you find yourself rushing through a day filled with back to back appointments and events, slow down. Create space in the day to catch your breath and take a break.

Simplicity means you become present in the moment and notice what’s going on around you. It’s pausing to bring yourself back to yourself. My favorite way of building breaks into the day is afternoon tea time. That 30 minute break restores me.

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life breaks
20 Ways to Simplify Your Life – take a break

Practice Self Care

One aspect of a simple lifestyle is self care. We cannot offer to others when we are running on empty. Do what you must to care for yourself, then you can offer to others.

Meditate, go for walks, do yoga, practice a healthy lifestyle, give yourself a manicure, read a book, do absolutely nothing for an hour. Whatever restores you…body, mind and spirit…do that. Build me time into your day.

Use More Ecologically Friendly Products

Try using more ecologically friendly products in your home. Laundry products, cleaning supplies, shampoos, shower soaps and toiletries are all available in plant based or chemical and dye free versions. These products are cleaner for the environment and better for us as well.

Check out stores like Natural Grocers or health food stores to discover the vast variety of ecological products available.

I love my alpaca wool dryer balls. Used in place of fabric softener sheets, they are an easy item to incorporate into your simple lifestyle.

Watch Less Television

I enjoy watching an occasional show or browsing through Netflix on the weekends. However, television qualifies as a huge time waster. Spending too much time playing electronic games or scrolling through social media do also.

There’s nothing wrong with watching tv or looking at Facebook. My blogging tasks include time on social media. It’s part of my job. However, hours and hours spent watching tv or scrolling through Instagram means less time to do other things you might enjoy.

Disconnect from electronics and rediscover the joys of outdoor play, reading a book or deep conversations with family or friends.

Create Morning and Evening Rituals

These simple routines start and end the day well. Spend 10 to 30 minutes gearing up for the day and preparing for a good night’s sleep at the end of it.

Write out your ideal morning and evening rituals and begin practicing them, modifying if necessary, until they become habits. Your morning routine might include reading, meditation, juicing or a run. Evening rituals might include music, a hot bath, writing and making tomorrow’s to do list. Customize your routines for you.

Say No to the Things You Don’t Want to Do

A major component of a simplified life is to not cram too much into the day. I love saying yes as often as I can, however I say yes to the things that I want to do. New opportunities and creativity and joy inducing activities receive a resounding yes from me. I say no to others’ expectations and events that are not in alignment with who I am.

This was a challenging area for me, for many years. I’m such a people pleaser. Now I focus on pleasing myself first.

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life night routine
20 Ways to Simplify Your Life – night routine

Living a Simple Lifestyle

Living a simple lifestyle means different things to different people. It begins with the process of identifying what’s most important to you and eliminating everything else.

When asked how he created the beautiful David statue, Michelangelo answered that he simply chipped away all the stone that was not David.

That’s how we create a simplified life. We chip away all that is not who we are and what we love to do.

Write down what is most important to you. List three to five things. Use those to create a Simplicity Statement. Then make room for the simple by eliminating the excess. Keep your Simplicity Statement where you can see it and refer to it often.

If you need ideas, return to the list above, of 20 ways to simplify your life. Then go, and enjoy that life.

20 Ways to Simplify Your Life joys
20 Ways to Simplify Your Life – simple joys

 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

 

 

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London

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The Tower of London, located in the center of the city, is a fascinating place full of history and intrigue. In 2017 I spent hours touring the complex and learning its stories with my sisters, mother and niece. And, I discovered the “tower” is a series of towers and buildings that form an impressive fortress.

William the Conqueror built the White Tower that now forms the core of the complex in 1078. That tower, considered a symbol of oppression against London by the Norman ruler, served as a prison from 1100 until 1952.

Although the complex housed a royal residence early in its history and  contains many other buildings, the Tower became synonymous with the prison. The thought of imprisonment in the Tower created fear, for many who went into the Tower never came out. However, a few ingenious prisoners managed to break out of this formidable place.

These are the tales of some of the most daring escapes from the Tower of London.

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London title meme

Five of the Most Daring Escapes from the Tower of London

During its 900 plus year history, more than 8,000 people experienced imprisonment in the Tower. About 400 died there, with many of those losing their heads. A few captives refused to remain within those seemingly impenetrable walls, preferring to escape or die trying.

These are five of the best escapes.

Ranulf Flambard

The first official escapee from the Tower was a Bishop, the king’s tax collector and a builder. Ranulf oversaw the construction of the stone London Bridge, Westminster Hall and the curtain wall around the Tower of London.

When Henry I ascended to the throne, he removed Ranulf from official duties, charged him with embezzlement and imprisoned him.

For six months Ranulf patiently built up trust with his jailers, entertaining them frequently with banquets. On February 2, 1101 Ranulf hosted another elaborate banquet, offering an abundance of wine to his guests.

As the jailers lay drunk, Ranulf used a rope he smuggled into his cell and rappelled down the curtain wall he built. Although the rope was too short, he dropped the last 20 feet to where a horse awaited him, left there by friends, and disappeared into the night.

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London white tower
Daring escapes from the Tower of London – the White Tower in the center of the complex

Alice Tankerville

Alice is the only woman who attempted to flee from the Tower. Imprisoned during the reign of Henry VIII, Alice faced a death sentence for stealing 366 gold crowns. Considered a charming woman, Alice befriended one of her jailers, John Bawde.

Bawde fell in love with Alice and agreed to help her escape. Planning their escape through the Traitor’s Gate, Bawde secured rope and cut a second key to one of the Tower’s outer doors.

On a dark night in 1524, Alice escaped with the help of Bawde. After tying the rope to an iron hook,  the pair of lovers lowered themselves down the parapets of St. Thomas’ Tower. Exiting through the gate, they rowed a small boat across the moat, then disembarked and crept down a road toward the spot where two horses waited.

Alas, their plan failed. Tower guards lived along the road they walked on. The night watch apprehended Alice and Bawde, returning them to the Tower. On March 31, 1534, Alice was left chained to the wall along the river during low tide, to meet her fate as the tide rose.  John Bawde experienced the rack and then suspended in chains over the outer walls of the Tower, he died of exposure and dehydration. Officials never found the gold pieces.

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London gate
Daring Escapes from the Tower of London – the Traitor’s Gate where prisoners were brought in via the Thames River

Edmund Neville

Edmund holds the distinction of making three attempts to escape from the Tower. Accused of plotting against Elizabeth I, he first experienced the Tower in 1584. Using a small file, he worked loose the bars of his cell window until he could squeeze through and climb down the wall.

Edmond actually fled London, however the odor clinging to him from his swim across the Tower moat alerted a horseman, who turned him in. After his capture, he returned to his Tower cell.

Two years later, the man attempted the same escape, through the same window. This time, using a rope smuggled in to him by his wife, Edmund carefully lowered himself down. However, his rope too short, Edmund dropped into the moat with a splash, alerting the guards.

Six years later, he made his third attempt. This time, he created a mannequin out of straw and dressed it in his own clothes. He then dressed as a blacksmith, complete with fake tools, and waited for his jailer to enter his cell. Unable to overcome his guard, the plan failed. Happily for him, he gained his release from the Tower two years later and was exiled.

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London tower
Daring escapes from the Tower of London – one of the towers in the complex

John Gerard

A Jesuit priest, John experienced imprisonment in the Tower in 1597 due to his Catholic faith. During the reign of Elizabeth I, those associated with the Catholic Church faced persecution.

Torture did not force John to denounce his faith. In spite of the torture, his jailers showed kindness to the priest, allowing his friends to send him gifts such as clothing and oranges. John shared his oranges with the guards…while using the juice to write secret message. The juice dries invisible but appears when heated.

After enlisting help through those secret messages, he escaped on October 4,  1597 using a rope strung across the Tower moat. John even arranged for the escape of one of his jailers because he knew the man would be held responsible for the escape.

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London bridge
Daring escapes from the Tower of London – Thames River near the Tower. That’s the Tower Bridge in the background.

William Maxwell, 5th Earl of Nithsdale

This escape story is my favorite, told to us last year while we toured Traquair House in the Borders of Scotland.

Taken to the Tower for his part in the Jacobite rebellion in 1715, William might have died there if not for his wife, Lady Winifred. After trying to secure her husband’s release through legal means, and failing, Lady Winifred concocted an ingenious plan.

On the day before his scheduled execution, she and her maids visited William in his cell. Beneath their dresses they smuggled in layers of clothes. William walked out of the tower with the maids, wearing a dress and the “nithsdale cloak”, which is still held dear by his descendants.

Lady Winifred remained in the cell and pretended to talk to her husband, before making her own escape. She joined William in Paris and they lived out their days together.

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London Lady Winifred
Daring escapes from the Tower of London – Lady Winifred used ingenuity to help her husband escape. I took this photo while in Traquair House.

No Longer a Prison

After centuries of use as a prison, the Tower no longer serves that purpose. The drained moat is now the Tower ditch and the torture dungeon is a tourist attraction.

The stories live on though, and walking around the complex, one can easily imagine the life and death dramas that played out here within these intimidating walls. Of the 8,000 plus prisoners held captive here, only 40 successfully escaped.

Imprisoned in the Tower of London, would you try to escape?

Daring Escapes from the Tower of London group photo
Group photo in the Tower. Fortunately, we could walk out of the complex!

Tower of London finds from Amazon:

 


 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.