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Superstition – Marriage, Death, Water, Home

Dominican Republic Superstitions – Marriage, Death, Water, Home

The Dominican Republic has many superstitious beliefs that have been passed down through the ages. How to ward off bad luck before it happens and what to do if you make a mistake and those bad omens find you. Read, learn and remember how to prevent bad things from happening to you the Dominican way.

To Marry or Not To Marry | Death and It’s Causes | Rain and Water | Food and Home Superstitions

A Santeria in Dominican Republic where you can purchase all your protection needs.
A Santeria where you can purchase all your protection needs.

Marriage and No Marriage

If you are married or planning on being married or maybe you never want to be married. You might want to read about these superstitions before making any decision.

*It is a catastrophe if one gets married on Tuesday, Friday or in the month of November.

*If a woman opens an umbrella in the house she will never get married

*DO NOT go to a wedding dressed in black this gives bad luck to the couple.

*If a single woman in serving something on a tray and the tray is left empty she should hold it upside down or she won’t get married.

*If a young girl walks under a ladder, she will never marry.

*You can’t sweep a single person’s feet or they will stay single.

*If you cross a set of hands already in a handshake with another handshake, someone will be getting married.

Something buried at the Ruinas del Monasterio de San Francisco.
Something buried at the Ruinas del Monasterio de San Francisco.

Death and Death Causes

How to prevent death and illnesses and what to do if death comes close.

*If you have two lights turned on in a room this will cause death.

*If a dog howls with persistence somebody in the neighborhood will die.

*If a dog barks at night without reason then he is seeing a ghost.

*If all the hens cluck at the same time there will be a death in the family.

Small grave yard in the Batey of Dominican Republic
Small grave yard in the Batey of Dominican Republic.

*If a person goes to the cemetery while ill they will die of that disease.

*Do Not sleep with your feet towards the street. Since this is the way the dead are put to rest this will bring bad luck or even worse death.

*Every time a bottle of alcohol is opened some of the alcohol must be poured onto the floor por los muertos/ for the dead.

*When seeing a funeral procession on the highway make sure to cross yourself or you could be possessed by the dead.

*If your windows are open and a funeral is going by you have to close the windows and wake any sleeping babies. Throw a bucket of water down the steps for good measure.

*Every time you pass a graveyard don’t forget to cross yourself for protection and respect, at both the beginning and end of the graveyard.

Rain and Water

When to avoid bathing, rain or getting wet and when to just dive in and get soaked. These superstitions are used to protect you from the bad omens of fucús.

*If things are going bad, a dip in the ocean will wash away the bad spirits.

*Don’t bathe in the morning – again, you will get gripe (the flu or a cold).

*You must place a cubo de auga / bucket of water at the furthest corner of your house the week of New Year’s. Exactly at midnight you dump the water out the backdoor. The belief is you gather all the bad spirits and feelings of the previous year and you dump them out never to return. (more New Year traditions)

*If you go into a rain shower when the sun is shining you will get sick.

*Taking a bath with rose petals is said to bring Quitar la mala suerte / good luck. Usually done by people who have not won the lottery.

*To make it not rain make a circle of pebbles in your yard. Cover these stones with ashes and say the anti-rain chant “San Isidro Labrador, quita el agua y pon el sol!”

*To protect your crops during a storm with strong winds mount your machete, upside down, on the wall in the farthest corner of the home.

Caught in a rain storm at the Palacio de Borgellá.
Caught in a rain storm at the Palacio de Borgellá.

*If you are caught in a thunder and lightning storm its best to stop talking and close the mouth. Also remove and teeth that are removable because they, the metal in them, are said to be lightning conductors and they can be blown right out of your mouth.

*When the first rain in May falls El Agua de Mayo catch the water with your hands and wash your face. This will get rid of wrinkles and purify. Save some in a jar to use later for whatever ails you.

Food and In the Home Superstitions

Learn how to cleanse a new home before you move Dominican style. And be careful, if you eat certain foods or even drop a utensil this can cause dire consequences or bring unwanted visitors to your home. Some things can even cause death!

*Do not ask a neighbor to lend you salt in the morning. This will bring bad luck.

*Never hand a salt shaker directly to someone, you should always place it on the table first.

*If you drop a fork and the tines of the fork point to the roof (up) an angry sibling will arrive. If the tines of the fork point to the floor the siblings will arrive looking for food or lodgings, a celebration.

*If you drop a knife in the kitchen, a male visitor will be stopping by. If you drop a spoon, it will be a female.

Watermellons for sale
Watermellons for sale but do not eat the seeds.

*If you eat the seeds of a watermelon (Pastilla) you will get stomach pains and die.

*Don’t eat piña/ pineapple too soon after eating eggs.

*You should never drink coffee standing up or any plans that you have made will not happen (se te barajan los planes).

*You cannot eat avocado and drink milk right before bed or you will get bad stomach cramps.

*If a farmer chews tobacco while he plants yucca, the yucca will be bitter.

*Young women just entering puberty may never eat citrus fruits.

A straw or palm frond broom setting outside before use for good luck.
A straw or palm frond broom setting outside before use for good luck.

*A new straw or palm frond broom, before the first use, must be set outside for a day for luck

*Placing a broom behind the door one will receive visitors

*To get rid of a guest who has overstayed their welcome place a broom behind the entry door with the bristle end up.

*Never sweep out the front door of a business.”There go your profits”.

*Place above the front door some sábila/ aloe. This collects all the negative energy of people coming and going.

*If you come across a set of crossed branches on your doorstep, watch out. Someone had done a “job” on you.

*Cover all your mirrors during thunderstorms.

*Standing in a doorway during a thunderstorm could cause the home to be struck with lightning.

*The first time you enter your new house (residence) bring with you oil, salt, bread, a candle and a picture or Jesus or whatever saint you choose. The candle and picture are to bless the house and the oil, salt and bread will always make sure you have food in the house.

*If a wasp comes into the house it brings bad luck.

*Don’t put money under your mattress or you will never get a good nights sleep.

*Never open the fridge after you iron.

*A glass of water placed on a shelf with the image of Santa Clara placed behind it to “they clarify all the ways”.

*Place a sprig of Perejil/ parsley in your home and it will bring you money.

*Bells placed in the doorway ward off evil and are placed there as an advanced warning should spirits enter the home.

*Turning a chair on one leg will bring misfortune.

Basic Helps

Basic Helps and Important Travel information

Colonial Zone – You will hear it called many different names. Zona Colonial, La Zona, The Zone, Ciudad Colonial, Ciudad Trujillo, Santo Domingo.

For travel information and warnings given for UK, USA, Canada:

*United States Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs. For travel information. In case of emergency in Dominican Republic – United States Embassy in Santo Domingo. Call 809-221-2171 for help 24 hours a day.

*United Kingdom Foreign & Commonwealth Office. UK travel information

*Canada Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Canada travel information

Drugs and Dominican Republic are a real no-no. If you do get caught with ANYTHING they will take you to jail and it most likely WILL be a long time before you get out. Even if you are in a place and you see some drugs or drug dealing my advice to you is to get out of there and fast! Here in DR they are known to arrest everyone in a place and ask questions later, sometimes much later. (Read The Dominican Gringa Blog story on the Big Almost Drug Bust -new window)

Truck delivering the large jugs of bottled water called Botejon de Auga
Truck delivering the large jugs of bottled water called Botejon de Auga


DO NOT DRINK THE WATER! You could get the runs or worse. Drink bottled water, which most places have unless you are in remote areas. Ice is usually OK also because it is purchased from water distributors and is clean (ask if you want to make sure). The shaved ice vendors, ice in your juice or coco water that is purchased in the street is a definite NO-NO. It may not be a problem but even if you change your water anywhere from well water to city water you can have unwanted results. Why take the chance and have a bummer (LOL!) of a vacation?

Do just as you would in any other place. If you were in a strange neighborhood and there was a lonely, dark street or alley would you walk down it? I don’t think so. Use your head; you are in unfamiliar surroundings in a country where many people make less than $200 USD a month working a full time job (44 hours a week). Do not act better than anyone else. Do not wear your best designer clothing and expensive jewelry.

Try and carry a noise maker. Be it a loud car alarm, a hand held one, or your outside voice. If you do get robbed make noise. Robbers hate noise and attention drawn to them. Vigilantism lives in
Dominican Republic and people love to help when they see someone being wronged.

Try some new foods. You never will know if you like it unless you try it. I highly recommend
Mondongo. Never ask what it is. Just give it a try, then after you like it you can ask what it is, if you’re brave. Mondongo is the best after a night out partying if you feel like you will have a hangover (Resaca in Dominican Spanish). At least this is what I am told and so far it has worked wonders! There is also medicine sold in Colmados (the corner stores) that you take for a hangover, just say ” resaca” and they will know what you need.

Clap when the Airplane lands. Dominicans normally do this. Don’t be shocked. If they do it on your plane, just join in. You are on vacation. Relax.

It is not only what you know but also whom you know that makes dealing with many things go much smoother here in Dominican Republic. I also suggest asking around. Talk to the locals and see which businesses they recommend. Also remember to take your time. Dominicans love to talk. They like to take things slow. It is too hot to get worked up over the little things. Take time, get to know who you are dealing with and just enjoy the chatter.

Lip Talk. Dominicans, especially women, talk with their lips or noses (sort of like a Bewitched thing). They do not use words, just a flick or twitch to the right or left or a quick pout. This says more than any word ever could. Maybe the lips puckered for a quick second is saying, “yea, right, sure, I believe you.” (sarcasm). When getting directions no need to point just a lip flick to the left, right or straight ahead and one knows just what direction in which to precede. It takes some time to figure out what all the movements mean but it is fun trying to learn. So if you see people, especially the ladies, making nose and lip gestures you now have a better idea what is happening.

Security guard with gun. It was a cold day in the city (about 75°F lol)
Security guard with gun. It was a cold day in the city (about 75°F lol)

Men with guns. Don’t let this scare you. It sure frightened me the first time I visited. I never saw people sitting around so nonchalantly with a gun on their lap or hanging over their shoulders in public areas. It is quite the norm to see men, uniformed and in street clothes, standing or sitting in front of homes and businesses. Don’t be too worried. They are most likely private security guards

Do not start any altercation with anyone. No exchange of harsh words. No physical contact. Walk away. Do Not fight. This is not easy sometimes but it is best for your safety. Remember if the police get involved EVERYONE goes to jail until they figure out the details (sometimes until they get a little payment).

Make copies of all your documents. Carry the copies (unless your driving you do need the original drivers license). Put a copy of your passport or some type of identification in each piece of your luggage. Always carry a copy of your passport with you in a different place where you have the original. Have all the numbers of your credit cards and contact information in case there is a problem or your cards get stolen then you will not have to search for the information. Scan everything front and back, Credit Cards, ID’s, Bank Cards, Passports and email them to yourself. This way if anything gets lost or stolen you have all the information right there.

Keep your doors locked. Keep the hotel doors locked if you are inside or outside. Keep the car doors locked, especially when driving at night in a rental or a taxi, just keep the doors locked. You can also get an alarm to put on your
hotel door for added safety.

Think twice before taking a stranger into your hotel room or car. They can rob you much easier this way. If taking a bed partner to your room make sure all your belongings are secure. Better yet, take the person to a Cabana (a sex hotel where you are charged by the hour) or another room someplace else. This way they cannot gain access to your belongings, documents and money.

Los Indios De Las Augas

Myths & Legends/Mitos y Leyendas
Los Indios De Las Augas/ The Indians of the Waters

These Indians are the fabulous beings who inhabit caves. They can be found in submerged caves of rivers and lakes or inside the mountain caves. It is said that these were groups of escaped Taino Indians who kept up with their old traditions and ways. In order to do this they had to stay hidden.

These Indians are said to be very beautiful, especially the woman, because of her dark eyes, smooth black hair, and cinnamon colored skin. These beautiful women leave the waters on the nights of the full moon to detangle their long hair with gold combs.

Interpretation of Los Indios De Las Augas by Artist-Illustrator Ray Wu

Some say they do not bother people and are quite generous. They share their knowledge of natural medicines and possess old and powerful magic. Others say that they are dangerous and fear to bathe in deep waters and unknown areas. Some say the indios de las aguas leave their caves to look for the men who may wander near. These men are taken to their caverns never to be seen again.

The children are warned not to sneak off to the “Pools of the Indians” because these Indians may take them never to be seen again. The “Mano Negra” will reach up from the dark waters and drag them into the water never to be seen again.

Do you think this is a way for parents to keep their children home at night and away from dangerous waters or could it really be that there is a dark hand waiting to pull them down forever to be lost…