Traditions and Superstitions: Commonalities Between Turkish and Russian Peoples | EcoTripSos

Traditions and Superstitions: Commonalities Between Turkish and Russian Peoples

Russia and Turkey… Having only The Black Sea between their borders, these two countries have had to interact quite often throughout history and political, commercial, cultural and social relations between two countries are still ongoing to a great extent. Now, this article is meant to point out the similar aspects of Russian and Turkish traditions, as well as superstitions. Nonetheless, I believe it is going to give you a clearer opinion to discuss the common history of the two countries in order to make inferences as to how these two entirely different cultures have commonalities.

Political History of Russia and Turkey

The contact between the two, however, have not always been a pleasant one. Historically, both sides were not really happy to observe one another’s expansionist policies, since they were expected to collide at some point, which they did. In the 16th century, Russia was vexed with the fact that the Ottomans supported Turkic and/or Islamic states within Russia and so were the Ottomans when Russians started to aid the Slavs and Christians within the Ottoman Empire for an uprising. Then again in the 19th century, specifically in 1877-78, the Russo-Turkish War (a.k.a 93 war) broke out with the rise of Pan-slavism and the increased desirability of the Turkish Straits.

An Interesting Fact About The Russo-Turkish War

Having served as the capital of the Ottoman Empire for 90 years, Edirne (north-western Turkey, Greek border nowadays) has a huge Imperial Palace, which is nowadays a set of ruins being renovated by archaeologists. During the Russo-Turkish War, the palace was blown up by an Ottoman Pasha with the order of the governor in order to avoid the taking over of the palace by Russian forces. 

The last fight between the Ottomans and Russians was during World War I, after which both monarchies were overthrown or defeated.

During the Soviet era, the relations between “Republic of Turkey” and “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” were quite friendly. Russia was the second state to formally recognize Turkey as an independent state along with providing material support.

Although the situation got quite intense during the Montreux Convention after which Turkey gained control over the straits and World War II during which Turkey allowed German warships to pass through its straits, the two countries have not had any armed conflicts since then. It should also be noted that Turkey and Russia were on different sides during the Korean War and the Cold War.

Nowadays, the relations between Russia and Turkey are exceptionally positive in that there is a visa exemption policy between the two countries along with numerous commercial interactions. Morever, Russia is about to build its first foreign Nuclear Power Plant in Turkey, a multi-billion dollar project. [1}

However, the relations between Turkey and Russia are not limited to political relations. Having interacted for hundreds of years, there are literally thousands of people living in one another’s country.

Russia Turkey Cultural Ties

Turks in Russia, Russians in Turkey

After the dissolution of the USSR, many Russians left their country to make a living elsewhere and especially in Istanbul, Ankara and Antalya, it is possible to come across with Russian people as local residents. An approximate number of 50,000 Russians are thought to be living in Turkey. [2]

On the other hand, a considerable number of Turkish people have chosen Russia to live as well. 2010 estimates suggest that between 120,000 – 150,000 Turkish people reside in Russia, mostly as labour migrants. [3]

Moreover, among the federal subjects of Russia are numerous Turkic states such as Bashkortostan, Chuvasia, Tatarstan, Tuva, Yakutiya, Altai Republic, Karachay – Cherkessia, Khakassia, Kabardino – Balkaria whose Turkic populations are linguistically and somewhat culturally related to Turkish people.

So much for the common history of Russia and Turkey, then what about the common traditions and superstitions between the two? Let’s have a closer look…

Common Traditions and Superstitions Between Russia and Turkey

As mentioned above, the commonalities between Turkey and Russia are not limited to the historical and the improving political relationships. Let’s see what the two countries have in common culturally.

Knocking on Wood

As in many countries, knocking on wood three times to avoid bad luck, especially after making a favourable guess or expressing an intention of the sort, is practices both in Turkey and Russia.

Breaking a Mirror

This one is a bit international, too. Breaking a mirror in Turkey and Russia is considered bad luck, but unlike America where this bad luck happens to haunt you for 7 years, its duration is believed to be much longer in Russia and Turkey.

Imitating Something Negative (like a physical abnormality or a scar) By Gestures

The demonstration of a physical abnormality or a scar by the hands is believed to bring the same problem to the demonstrator himself/herself. If you do something like this, it is common in Turkey to hear something like “Do not show it with your hands!”. In Russia, however, people usually make a gesture of pushing it away after imitating the problem without noticing.

Talking About Future Achievements

In both Turkish and Russian cultures, one must be cautious with talking about future success and avoid boasting about it since doing this is believed to bring bad luck or reverse the opportunity. In both cultures, people tend to keep silent until the success is achieved.

Giving a Knife or Scissors

Giving a knife or scissors to another person as a gift or out of need in both Russian and Turkish cultures have negative signals. Turkish people generally believe that doing this will result in a conflict between the parties and thus they usually put the knife or scissors on a table or somewhere suitable to be taken by the other person. In Russia, the tradition (or superstition) is exactly the same, however, a few Rubles might be paid as a symbolical price to break the effect of this taboo.

A Perched Bird By One’s Window

In both cultures, people typically do not like it when a bird perches somewhere near their window since it usually believed to be signifying the death of a person living in the premises. For that reason, people of both countries tend to chase birds away from their windows. In Turkey, however, crows and owls are especially regarded to be bad omens.

Stepping Over Someone 

Both Russian and Turkish people tend to believe that if you step over someone on purpose on accidentally, you cease his/her physical growth, thus you need to take a step backwards over the same person to avoid this.

Giving a Purse as a Gift

It’s a common practice to put some money inside a purse or wallet, in the case that it is given as a gift. This way, Russian and Turkish people believe that the receiver of the gift will have a good financial life.

Which side of the tree? 

In the two countries, people usually prefer to walk past the same side of a tree in order to avoid future conflicts.

Whistling in a House

Whistling in both countries, especially in a house (or at night in Turkey) may be regarded as a sign of misfortune.

Hot Ears – Hot Cheeks

If you feel that your ears or cheeks are hot, it means someone is talking or thinking about you in both countries.

Itchy Hands

If your right hand itches, it means you will receive money. If it is your left hand, you will be giving money away.

Rain While Leaving / Pouring Water After Someone

These two traditions are not identical in both cultures, but it is undeniable that they have the same essence. In Russia, if it is raining while you are leaving somewhere, it means you will return, which is a good omen. In Turkey, however, it is common practice to pour water on the road right after the guests leave, a tradition practiced with the wish that the one who leaves will come back.

Having a Bird Defecate on Your Property / Body

Brings you good luck, big time… Both in Russia and Turkey.

Breaking a Glass

In Russia, breaking a glass accidentally is believed to bring good luck to the one who breaks it. In Turkey, similarly, breaking a glass by mistake is thought to have an effect that pushes away the ‘evil eyes’ on you.

People With The Same Name

In both cultures, if you stand between two people with the same name, you make a wish and it is believed to become true.


As you see, dear readers, both Russian and Turkish peoples have a lot in common when it comes to traditions and superstitions. How do you think this is possible? PLEASE COMMENT!

Interested in monetary issues more than culture? Take a look at the countries with the highest minimum wage!





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