Russian tradition is one full of superstitions. Because I grew up in Lithuania, to Russian parents, some of these are ingrained in me to these days. Until we left Lithuania, when I was 16 years old, we didnt do a lot of traveling, but we did some, and there was a certain routine that accompanied every trip, a little ceremony that my family and I performed before every long trip. This short and simple ceremony consisted of the traveler and those who accompany him- seeing him off, sitting quietly for a moment before leaving their house. I dont remember the first time I did it, but Im sure that I was born into it, and have always performed this sitting ceremony before a long trip. I am 54 now, and have been traveling a lot, mostly by planes, and I still to this day sit down before I leave home for a flight. Surprisingly, my wife and my daughters got used to my ritual and have started doing so themselves
I never questioned my parents about this custom, and I knew for sure that the same thing was going on in each of my friends families, so I guess I saw it as a given way to act. Only lately, after being questioned by my daughters, did I try to look for an explanation for the sitting, and so I found 2 main ones:
1. A time to rethink whether something was forgotten.
2. A time for a short prayer for a safe trip and return.
As a child, I loved this ritual as it was part of the traveling adventure. Nowadays I perform it almost automatically, but still feel good about it, since it has a way to make me feel more secure about the trip. One more reason is the fact that it makes me feel good for continuing a tradition, although it is a one based on superstition.
Like my father, I was born into this habit, although Im an Israeli girl. Like him, it was part of my travelling adventures, but not always did it make me happy, since we did a lot of travelling, sometimes to my dismay. Today it gives me a warm feeling of togetherness and of security, and also of one more way to show my father how much I love him.
Looking into this superstition, it is hard for me to explain the logic behind it, as well as behind most other superstition. I tend to suspect that the logical explanations are a way of rationalizing an existing ritual, rather than being the original reasons.
Although the reasons my father has mentioned in the interview above make sense, I sometimes tend to believe that we sit before leaving in order to mark to whoever it is that decides our faith that we intend on coming back to that same spot, safe and sound. That is why I would say this is more of folk belief for me, rather than superstition, though the boundaries are still unclear so it may as well be regarded as both.