Fortune Telling Around The World

21 October 2015
Read Time: 2.6 mins

Can’t resist the sugary snap of a fortune cookie and seeing your future pop out, word for word, printed on a slice of propitious paper?

All over the world, different cultures practice their own auspicious beliefs and ages-old traditions of foretelling what the future holds.

So whether you’re beguilingly curious or a strong-willed skeptic when it come to anything even slightly hocus pocus, leave it to these fortune telling traditions to quickly prove your suspicions right – or wrong.

 Turkish coffee offers more than caffeine.


Turkey – Coffee Cup Reading

In Turkey you can get to the bottom of your future, sip by hopeful sip. But beware: the traditional Turkish brew comes short, strong and mighty thick. Once it’s just coffee grind that remains, all it takes is a saucer on top and a few divine spins. An expert in the ancient art of coffee cup reading can then navigate the maze of symbolism lurking in the muddy shapes left clinging to the bottom of the cup.

China – Face Reading

The Chinese believe the face is an open book: an autobiography of one’s life. Here you can have every wrinkle, tooth, scar, mole, line, structure, shape and splotch of colour analysed for fascinating insight into your history, life and future. This ancient art dates back as far as the time of the Yellow Emperor (2697 to 2598BC), though is far from the only fortune telling technique still used in China - the nation is rife with superstitious ways.

 Could bamboo sticks hold the key?


Hong Kong – Kau Cim

The sound of rattling bamboo in Hong Kong nods to one of the oldest known forms of fortune telling. A particularly renowned practice at Wong Tai Sin Temple and with origins in China, kau cim involves shaking a bamboo bucket filled with flat bamboo sticks inscribed with numbers until one divinely falls out. An interpreter then delves into the significance based on books of ancient poetry and traditional meanings.

India – Jyotish

In India, the whereabouts of the stars says it all. Also known as Vedic Astrology, it is believed that the past, present and future comes down to the precise positioning of the stars and planets. For thousands of years Indians have referred to this ‘science of light’ and in-depth star charts to unlock the secrets of their life, personality traits and to even help find their ideal future partner.

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Romania – Gypsy Tarot

There’s nowhere more iconic than Romania to get a tarot reading. A part of the culture for centuries, it is so ingrained in the nation’s fabric that tarot reading is officially recognised by the government as legal! Let a lucky – or unlucky – spread of cards adorned in symbolic images allude to the ins and outs of what’s to come, accompanied by compelling commentary from a local gypsy.

 The Japanese leave bad fortunes behind.


Japan – Omikuji

Similar to Kau Cim, in shrines all across Japan your fate comes down to a box full of numbered sticks. But instead of finding your fortune in a book, you’ll find your paper fortune tucked away amongst a row of numbered drawers. Pull your fortune and hold your breath – there’s no guarantee it’ll be good. The fortunes range from great blessings to half-blessings, small curses to great curses. In line with tradition, bad fortunes should be tied to a pole or tree at the site of the temple so as to leave the troubled prediction behind.

Greece – Palm Reading

When it comes to palmistry, perhaps your future really is in your own two hands. A fortune telling method that dates back to the days of ancient Greece, it’s said that each part of the palms and fingers relate back to a particular Greek god and that the formation of lines tells the story of one’s fate. This hands-on method has been famously linked to Pythagoras, Hippocrates and Julius Caesar.

 A bird will happily seal your fate.


Singapore – Parrot Astrology

Could a squawking parrot hold the key to your future? A Tamil tradition that’s found its way from southern India to sky-high Singapore, it’s not uncommon to see fortune tellers set up with not just a deck of tarot cards, but a birdcage too. Upon request, the parrot hops out of its cage and shuffles its beak through the row of cards to pick out your fortune before the reader translates its meaning. Similarly, in Mexico, it is tradition to use canaries to pick out paper predictions.

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Tijana Jaksic

Tijana loves new adventures as much as she enjoys reliving old ones. Favourite stops on the map so far include Greece (beyond the islands!), Mexico City (hello ancient ruins and wonderful art), Poland (for the history and off-the-beaten-track finds), Berlin (so artsy and chilled) and Bosnia (ahhh the natural beauty). Choosing is always hard though - that's why her list is so long and she spends her 'real life' time writing about travel until she's out there on the road again.