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Italian Superstitions: Nuns and the Evil Eye
Posted In: Information and Theories  6/18/06
By: Yona Williams


When dealing with superstitions throughout Italy, you will find that the beliefs tend to be specific to whichever region it comes from. There are numerous myths and superstitions that come from Italy, including some that involve the evil eye and beliefs about nuns. One of the main communities that hold superstitions dear to their heart is the pheasant community, which follow many different ways dealing with good or bad luck, as well as the fear of spirits from the dead.


In Italian language, the evil eye is called maloccio. If you feel that someone has placed evil vibes unto you, there is a hand sign to perform, which is believed to keep the evil spirits away from you. This can be achieved by extending your pinkie finger and index finger. When doing this, the rest of your fingers should be folded back. There is also a piece of jewelry that you can wear that you can turn to when you feel someone has put a “curse” on you. Italians are often seen wearing a charm called the corno, which is small and shaped like a horn. This charm is usually worn around the neck and is thought to erase evil curses that someone has thrown your way.


Some even feel that evil can fall upon you if someone gives you a compliment. For example, if someone says that your child is an angel and cute, you may want to make the sign of the horn to give your child extra protection. There is also a belief dealing with oil and holy water. First, drops of oil should be sprinkled into a bowl filled with holy water. Then, you should analyze the oil as it floats on top of the holy water. It is the pattern that you will be paying attention to. Are the drops of oil sticking together? If the oil stays in drops in the holy water, it is a good sign and any signs that you have performed have worked in your favor. It is believed that if the oil spread out on top of the holy water, negative events will occur in the near future. If the oil appears as one mess of a blob, this is not a good thing at all. People view this as the formation of the evil eye. One may ask if there is a difference between holy water and regular water, but it probably is relative to whoever is performing the process.


You may never think of it this way, but in Italian beliefs, nuns are viewed as an unlucky sign. After encountering a nun, Italians immediately turn to ways to protect themselves from this sort of meeting. One of the things that they do is touch iron. This type of approach towards protection can be compared to the way others knock on wood for good luck or protection from evil thoughts. These are the types of things that are performed to keep good fortune and luck smiling upon them. Another way to protect yourself after you have passed by a nun is to mutter “Your nun!” at the very next individual that you encounter. This is thought to pass the bad fortune and luck from yourself onto another. The belief in the bad luck surrounding nuns is so strong that an Italian rap group was formed in a response to this superstition.


This musical ensemble is called the Sister Act and their main goal is to shed the negative view of them to the public by making music regarding the subject. Led by a nun by the name of Sister Alessandra Luna, an album was put out offering 12 different songs. The title of their album is ironically called “Your Nun!” with the cover song titled “Your Nun! Touch Iron.” Now that is a different approach to dispelling any myths regarding a particular superstition.





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