May 31, 2018

Why can’t I whistle indoors?

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5 months, 3 weeks ago

Whistling is a Bad Thing in Russia. It’s associated with calling animals, with lazy and poor people who spend their days idly whistling and doing nothing else, and with general displeasure. In Russia, people whistle at a performance to show how bad they thought it was, not to call for an encore. And then there’s the magical part. Whistling can summon the devil. It can annoy your house sprite (domovoi), and an unhappy house sprite is likely to get up to mischief, like souring your milk, tying your shoelaces together, and breaking your hair dryer. And it can definitely call up a wind. In the old days, Russian sailors becalmed on the sea would whistle to “wake up the wind” and get them moving. So if you whistle and summon a wind at home, it might blow through and take all your money. Whistling in the home is a sure-fire guarantee that you’ll lose money — by theft or by misfortune. The wind might also blow through and empty the house of possessions or people. In a nutshell: take your whistling outdoors.