Occupation: graduate student in Computer Science
Residence: Pasadena, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/16
Primary Language: Russian
Other Language(s): English, French, Czech
My informant is from Lipitsk, Russia. She moved to the United States for graduate studies, and is a graduate student at USC at the age of 33. I collected many superstitions from my informant, and also wedding traditions, using her own wedding as an example.
Informant: So lets see… The traditional superstitions. One of them have to do with women. For good luck and bad luck, women are always viewed as bad luck (laughs). So if you leave your house in the morning and see a woman with empty buckets or empty anything, that’s bad luck for the whole day…. uh in the village it used to be that they would carry water in the buckets. So I guess that’s how it came from. They would go like to the well to get water. So if you had full buckets of water, then that was a good luck. But if you saw them with empty buckets just going there, it was bad luck. The city of course they don’t go to the well anymore. Buuut they do carry the buckets to the trash dumpsters. I guess if she has a bucket full of trash it is better luck than no trash. It’s a pretty powerful one. I remember going to the exam, and I would just make sure.. I would as my mom “Mom, can you go ahead of me and check to make sure there’s no woman in front of me, you know. (laughs)
Me: Do you know where you heard it from?
Informant: I cant say.. its just in the culture. Its like the black cat….Yeah, its just kind of something everyone knows.
This is an example of a Russian superstition. My analysis is that the empty buckets could symbolize emptiness in life or lack of money. My informant also noted that in Russia, women are always associated with bad luck. This is a common theme across all Russian superstitions, which is important to note in this example. If there is a man carrying something empty, then it would mean nothing. However, it is usually the woman who would be doing this sort of housework.