Friday the 13th of January might be a day when people are overly aware of black cats, groups of magpies and not walking under ladders; but many might not realise that Scotland is the home of many superstitions.

In fact many of the most commonly held superstitions originate from the home of the Loch Ness Monster….

Examples of superstitions that have originated in Scotland include:

  • In the north of Scotland, some farmers believe that the birth of a black-faced sheep brings bad luck for all the flock – this is where the expression ‘black sheep of the family’ originates. If a sheep has twins, both born with black faces, this signals a poor lambing season ahead.
  • It’s considered lucky to place silver in a new born baby’s hand as it will bring great wealth to them in later life.
  • Also, a person should touch iron if they see or even hear evil.
  • A bride should place a silver coin in her shoe or carry a sprig of heather for good luck.
  • In Scotland, a baby born on the first day of the month is considered to be lucky. Also, what day a baby is born on has an impact on its future. The famous ‘Monday’s child is fair of face…’ poem originates from Scotland.
  • First Footing on Hogmanay – In the New Year, Scottish people “first-foot” one another, which means to be the first into somebody else’s home. The first-footer must bring a gift into the home to bring good fortune for the coming year. This most likely developed because of the fair-haired Vikings invasion of Scotland in the 8th century.
  • Today, the tooth fairy that leaves money under a pillows in exchange for teeth. This highly resembles an old Scottish superstition about lost teeth that is supposed to bring a child good luck and strong teeth.
  • It has been said that Scotland in fact invented the tradition of Halloween and the superstitions and traditions around it. The tradition of ‘dookin’ for apples, where children (and sometimes adults) attempt to retrieve apples from a water-filled basin using only their mouths is thought to be a reference back to the days of the druids. In ancient druid lore, apples were said to be a very sacred fruit.
  • Scottish seafarers too often believe that salmon are bringers of bad luck and are known as the ‘reid fish’. Salmon was at one time known as a sacred creature.

For more myths, legends, ghosts and superstitions check out the VisitScotland Myths and Legends e-book at

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