Superstitions of the Dominican Republic


The Dominican Republic is a lovely place to go for a relaxing vacation. The people are very friendly and hospitable, so much, in fact, that if you fall into conversation with a local resident, it is very likely they will invite you home for dinner. Accept the invitation, but remember: do not pass the salt.

Most superstitions are based upon the prevention of bad luck. The salt, for example, cannot be directly passed to the person who requested it. The salt pillar must slid across the table first, otherwise bad luck will follow. Also, neighbors do not ask for salt from each other during the morning as it will also bring bad luck. If you happen to drop a fork during a meal in the Dominican Republic, there is a chance an angry sibling will visit. Of course, if you do not have any siblings, then the chance of bad luck is even greater.

The superstitions surrounding marriage are simple: do not get married on a Friday, a Tuesday or in the month of November. It will be a disaster. If you are a single young woman, you must be especially careful of your daily activities as there are several things will supposedly prevent you from ever getting married. For example, do not open an umbrella in the house, do not walk under a ladder, do not hold an empty serving tray right side up and do not have your feet swept.

Dominican women who are pregnant have all sorts of superstitions they need to be aware of. An asabache must be worn at all times in order to ward off the evil eye. An asabache is a black hand or fist worn around the neck as jewelry. It can also take the form of a red and black bean. The asabache can only be taken off when a wise woman says that it is nonsense. If a pregnant woman asks you for something you are eating, never ever say no. You will get a sty. Pregnant woman should not eat pineapple, go in the ocean or walk under a guanabana tree as they could lose their baby. A traditional Dominican breakfast of fried eggs with cherries, lemon, codfish and herring is not a meal pregnant women are permitted to eat. If a woman is having a particularly difficult pregnancy, she is to pass over the top of her husband. Apparently it will cause the husband to feel all the sickness. After a woman has given birth, she is not to wash her hair or change her socks for 41 days.

There are just as many beliefs about the care and tending of infants and small children as there are for pregnant women. The evil eye is a great source of fear for new mothers. If someone looks at the child with envy but makes compliments without saying ‘God bless you’ to the child then the evil eye has been given. So, whenever looking at or talking to an infant or child, always end with ‘God bless you’ otherwise the evil eye may be perceived. Also, do not let a child under two years see themselves in a mirror or have their hair cut, as it will mean they will not learn to speak. To prevent hiccups, take a thread from the child’s favorite blanket and place it on their forehead. If the child already has hiccups, a hair from the mother’s head must be placed on the infant’s head.

Predicting death in Dominican culture seems to be closely tied in with superstitions. For example, if a dog howls with persistence, someone in the neighborhood will die. If all the hens cluck at the same time, a member of the family will pass away. The prevention of death is also achieved through adherence to particular superstitions. For instance, do not have two lights on in a room, as it will cause death. If someone who is ill goes to visit a grave site they will soon die of the disease they are currently suffering from. Do not sleep with your feet pointing towards the street as it will bring death. Honoring and remembering the deceased is important in Dominican culture. Every time a bottle of alcohol is opened, some of the contents must be spilled on the floor as an offering to the dead. If you pass a cemetery it is imperative to cross yourself at both the beginning and the end of the property. It is a sign of respect for the dead, as well as protection from evil spirits that could be lurking around the grave sites.

The Dominican Republic is one the worlds most beautiful tropical destinations but has not yet been over run with spring break parties or masses of tourists. Make a trip down to experience the quaint culture of the Dominican people, but if you encounter a bad omen, do not forget to make the sign of the cross and utter the word ‘zafa’ under your breath. It may save you from the evil eye.

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