Would you give a knife as a gift?

@owlwings (33533)
Cambridge, England
September 13, 2009 2:43am CST
My mother used to say that giving a knife as a gift was bad luck unless the recipient "bought" the knife from the giver with a small coin. If you didn't do this, the knife would cut off the relationship between the two people in some way. This was especially important when giving a kitchen knife set as a wedding gift. Do you believe giving a knife as a gift is bad luck? What other gift or wedding superstitions do you follow?
15 people like this
51 responses
@iskayz (5426)
• Philippines
13 Sep 09
Hi there owlwings! Hmm.. This is the first time I have heard of a superstitious belief about giving knives as a gift. In the past we have given knives to our relatives and nothing bad happens in their relationships. So, I don't believe in bad luck about knives as gifts. I follow the superstitious belief of giving shoes as gifts. And just like when giving knives, the recipient must also give a small amount to the giver. Even a cent will do. This is done so as the recipient won't disregard/disrespect or tread on, on the giver's personality. Ciao!
@mysdianait (55655)
• Italy
13 Sep 09
Hi Owl! Giving a knife as a gift is something I have never done or thought about doing yet. It does seem to me to be something with a negative suggestion to it so I would not wish to give it to anyone. That is only my personal taste though and not related to anything local as I am not aware whether there is anything related to giving knives or not. Here in Italy when you give flowers to anyone you would never give them chrysanthemums. Those are for our loved ones who are no longer here and are used to commemorate All Saints day in November each year. The cemetaries are filled with them then in all different colours and it is the only occasion when they would be seen here. It is not a flower that anypone would buy or grow and have in a vase indoors either.
2 people like this
@BarBaraPrz (14247)
• Hamilton, Ontario
13 Sep 09
Pity the poor chrysanthemum... they're popular here in bouquets and potted plants.
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@mysdianait (55655)
• Italy
13 Sep 09
I didn't know about the lilac Owl, or if I did I had forgotten. Strange how things change from one place to another
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@MsTickle (23990)
• Australia
20 Sep 09
This is a very well known legend or old wives' tale and includes the gifting of scissors as well as far as I'm concerned owlwings. It makes sense to me. There was a lady I worked with who was always knitting and I asked her one day if she had ever knitted anything for her husband, she had only recently married and loved to talk about him. He was from Europe and she told me that in his country it was considered bad luck to knit anything for your husband...that the marriage would not last. They were both in their forties and my friend said she wasn't taking any chances....lol. I knitted for 2 of my husbands and I left all of them so I don't know how true it is...lol.
2 people like this
@owlwings (33533)
• Cambridge, England
10 Jan 10
I haven't heard that one, MsTickle. I know that the Scots and the Irish (who are great knitters) wouldn't give any credence to that. The Irish fishermen's wives in the Aran Islands would knit their husbands sweaters with an individual pattern so that - I know it sounds morbid - they could be identified if they were lost at sea and their body was found (much) later. Shetland women were able to knit a pair of socks for their men using one set of needles and two balls of wool. The two socks were knitted together using alternate threads for each stitch and then peeled apart when finished. I can only say that nights must have been long and boring in the winter to allow such concentration. If you got a stitch wrong, the two socks would be joined forever!
3 people like this
• Philippines
13 Sep 09
I do not believe to any superstition. I do not know any superstition about gifts. Though, i would not give a knife as a gift. I think that it is not agood thing to give such. Instead of giving a knife, why not just give another kitchen utensils,right. But of course, if the recipient requests it, why not. But as much as possible, I won't give a knife.
2 people like this
@owlwings (33533)
• Cambridge, England
13 Sep 09
I see that you are also from the Philippines. You're the second to say that there is no tradition of "bad luck" associated with knives as a gift in your country. Any good cook knows the benefit of a really sharp knife that handles well but, on the other hand, most cooks would expect to choose and buy their own knives, so giving one as a gift might not be appropriate.
3 people like this
@kprofgames (2906)
• United States
13 Sep 09
I don't really follow any kind of superstitions when thinking about wedding gifts. I'm not a superstitions person. I've heard a few of them, but never the one about the knives. Knive sets are pretty common around here so I never gave it a second thought about if there was a saying behind it.
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@seekers (315)
13 Sep 09
Supertitions are not really true but still,I will not consider a knife as a gift unless the recipient mentioned that she likes it for a gift.
@pumpkinjam (4534)
13 Sep 09
I don't believe in superstitions really but I would never think of giving someone a knife as a gift. I guess if it's a cutlery set as a wedding present or something then that's different but I don't think there is any bad luck involved, I just think it's a bit odd to give someone a knife as a gift.
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@thea09 (18222)
• Greece
13 Sep 09
Hello owlwings, the giving of a knife in local tradition signifies that a fight may possibly ensue between the giver and receiver which perhaps explains why all cutlery is presented wrapped up in a basket rather than given directly, so I would presume gifting them has much more ominous connotations. Of course I don't believe this but it's best not to make mistakes within an adopted culture. Shop bought cakes are 100% safe for any gift whereas home made might not be so well appreciated.
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@owlwings (33533)
• Cambridge, England
13 Sep 09
I rather think that what I'm talking about is a European tradition (and that, today, it applies to knives as tools and utensils rather than as weapons). Yes, I've also heard that a knife should always be included as part of another gift in order to allay the bad luck associated with a bare blade. Either method (wrapping the knife with something else or demanding a nominal payment) is said to be effective. I'm interested in what you say about home-made cakes. I had never heard of that (and, in Britain, a gift of home-baked goodies is usually appreciated) but, of course, home-made ones could be poisoned! So much for trusting our fellow-men, LOL. I can see the need for caution, however, in many traditional marriage customs (where it's sometimes much more about a liaison of families than something between two lovers!)
4 people like this
@thea09 (18222)
• Greece
13 Sep 09
The shop bought cake thing as a suitable offering is very much expected, the bakeries now are very fancy often times and the cakes are wrapped beautifully. I suspect it shows that the giver has taken some trouble with the gift as they have had to spend money plus make the right choice. I imagine it stems from previous years of poverty when I purchased cake would be an impossibilty in rural areas. There is nothing special here in making a cake as a Greek kitchen is constantly on the go so it would be considered rather normal. I particularly have to adhere to this rule as my cakes would be regarded as suspect as may have foreign things in them which would not go down well at all plus they all suspect that I have no clue how to cook in the first place due to my tendency to produce foreign muck.
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@owlwings (33533)
• Cambridge, England
13 Sep 09
There is always the tacit appraisal of a gift, of course, in any culture. The private comment (among the family) of "Hmph! You would have thought they could have afforded something better than that!" is all too common everywhere!
4 people like this
@nannacroc (3993)
18 Sep 09
This is the only superstition my dad ever seemed to believe. I was quite surprised when he asked me for a penny for the knife he'd bought for me. I would ask for a small payment if I was buying a knife as a gift, I always put at least a few pence in a purse if it's a gift. Mum said that would ensure the purse was never empty.
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@owlwings (33533)
• Cambridge, England
18 Sep 09
I think that the one about knives (in Britain) and scissors (in Germany, it seems) is a harmless enough superstition. I can see, I think, how it arose (and how it's probably no longer valid but just a superstition). I believe that it's nice to keep such 'nonsense' alive.
3 people like this
@nannacroc (3993)
18 Sep 09
As long as it doesn't take over your life some superstitions are nice nonsense. I did try making one of my own, telling the family it was bad luck to enter my house without chocolate for me, sadly that didn't work.
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@mobhomeir (7567)
• Philippines
13 Sep 09
Hello my friend owlwings, that's my first time to hear that. Well I remember one there was once a moment a friend of ours gave us (with my wife) a bolo, larger than a knife some what like a the one the butcher use to cut pork. That was their business a manufacturer of that kind. It was not during our wedding. How's that? Is there any belief of that? thanks
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@owlwings (33533)
• Cambridge, England
13 Sep 09
Different cultures have different customs and I believe that making a small payment for a knife given as a gift must be a European tradition. I have heard that the same thing should apply to any sharp edged utensil that could be used as a weapon, so perhaps you should have paid your friend a small coin! On the other hand, if you have no such tradition in the Philippines, doing so might be a nonsense!
4 people like this
@owlwings (33533)
• Cambridge, England
13 Sep 09
I read that the bolo is a very useful implement and is used for everything from cutting down vegetation to killing pigs. The term I know for that kind of knife is 'machete'. I also read that it is sometimes thought of as a symbol of several Philippino uprisings!
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@mobhomeir (7567)
• Philippines
15 Sep 09
Oh I see. I appreciate you for that. You're right maybe you have a little background known on our history..thanks for that...
@ehsanji (492)
• Pakistan
13 Sep 09
I don't think giving knife is a sign of something bad. It totally depends on your own intentions and mental approach and of the person who is receiving the gift. You don't just give the gifts if your own choice. You should know about the person's choice too. I wouldn't gift a knife to a person who doesn't like weapons and knifes etc. It wouldn't leave a good impression on that person. Do you agree with me, owlwings?
1 person likes this
@owlwings (33533)
• Cambridge, England
13 Sep 09
I do agree that one should always give something that's likely to be wanted as a gift and that giving a knife (of the weapon kind) to someone who doesn't like weapons would be wrong. I'm interested in old traditions, however, and it seems that this one may be a European tradition. There must have been some logic behind it at one time, I suppose. In the days when marriages were about joining families and clans (for political purposes), the gift of a knife, which was much more than just a kitchen utensil in those days, might have been though of as a rash expression of trust (the recipient might still turn on you and kill you with your own knife) and making the recipient pay something for it would, somehow, reduce that danger. These days, of course, we think of such customs and superstitions as nonsense but they must have had a point for our ancestors.
4 people like this
@owlwings (33533)
• Cambridge, England
13 Sep 09
I read that the bolo is a very useful implement and is used for everything from cutting down vegetation to killing pigs. The term I know for that kind of knife is 'machete'. I also read that it is sometimes thought of as a symbol of several Philippino uprisings!
4 people like this
@owlwings (33533)
• Cambridge, England
13 Sep 09
(oops! I added the comment to the wrong thread!)
4 people like this
• United States
20 Jan 10
It's funny, I have heard sort of a variation of that superstition. My mother believes it's bad luck to give something sharp (like a knife) as a gift without including a coin. As a result anytime she gives a knife as a gift (something she does frequently with my boyfriends--don't know what that's about, haha) she always tapes a penny to the knife as part of the gift.
1 person likes this
@owlwings (33533)
• Cambridge, England
20 Jan 10
That sounds a little like a 'mix' of the superstition about knives with the one about putting a coin in a purse given as a gift or in the pocket of a new jacket or pair of trousers. However, it may be a true variation on the knife one. All superstitions originally had some logical basis (whether it was practical or due to a religious belief) and some of them have got so mixed up on the way that there are complete opposites. Some people, for example, say that it's unlucky if a black cat crosses your path and others believe that it's lucky! Another I can think of is the horseshoe on the door for good luck. Most people say that the shoe should be hung points upwards (to stop the luck falling out) but I have heard a few say that it should be points down! Did your mother, I wonder, learn her belief about knives from her mother? If so, I wonder how far back it could be traced and to what country?
3 people like this
• Philippines
19 Sep 09
this is very first time I learned about that. What I know is if you give a shoes as a gift you must be given a coin in return. Is this belief proven? Me I haven’t proven about the shoes. To be true the knife and shoes has nothing to do with what will happen with your life. You and your decision affects your life. You run your life. Things are just things, they will never affect you in anyway.
@owlwings (33533)
• Cambridge, England
10 Jan 10
I had heard the one about accepting a coin for the gift of shoes before (perhaps someone else mentioned it here). You are right, of course, that what happens, happens and it very likely has nothing to do with little superstitions like this. However, it pays to be cautious and it costs nothing and hurts nobody to see that traditions like this are observed. They may be meaningless but who can tell?
3 people like this
@maxilimian (3005)
• South Korea
17 Sep 09
waw, i just know it from you, though i never give a knife as a gift either i wonder, what is the coin function anyway?why should it must coming with the knife? Well what i know, another superstitions gift is perfume or shirt giving to boyfriend or your girlfriend, it may broke the relationship between them ...
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@owlwings (33533)
• Cambridge, England
18 Sep 09
The function of the coin is, I think, to make the 'gift' into a 'transaction'. If someone gives you something, one almost always asks why it was given or 'why that particular choice?' or 'what is the significance?'. If you yourself don't, then you can be almost sure that someone else in the family (or maybe a friend) will do! A wedding is a very significant occasion, so gifts tend to be thought of as symbolic rather than merely practical. I hadn't heard the superstition about perfume or a shirt. I have come across ones about a handkerchief or a watch/clock and understand those (or at least, their meaning). Soon, with our global society, it will be considered unlucky by someone or other to give any gift at all ... and, perhaps, unlucky not to do so! So much for obeying superstition or paying too much regard to cultural rules!
3 people like this
@sacmom (14361)
• United States
16 Sep 09
Hi owlwings. I'm not one to believe in superstitions, so I don't see how giving a knife set as a wedding gift can be bring on bad luck. Just like I don't see how a black cat, breaking a mirror, or walking under a ladder can cause bad luck. Okay, so it may not be wise to walk under a ladder as it just isn't a smart thing to do to begin with, but to say that it causes bad luck is udder nonsense. Happy mylotting!
1 person likes this
@owlwings (33533)
• Cambridge, England
18 Sep 09
I neither believe in superstitions nor disbelieve in them. Many superstitions once had a real and practical basis, though, often, that has been completely forgotten. Obviously, the one about walking under a ladder does make a certain amount of sense today: many others, though, hark back to a time when people thought that mirrors were magical (and glass ones were uncommon), cats were associated with witches and anything made of iron or any metal (such as a pin or a knife) was, perhaps, the product of a specialised (and therefore 'protected') craft ... and also dangerous. I think that, when marriages were more or less political affairs rather than purely 'love matches' as they are today, all gifts (and particularly wedding gifts) were seen as 'symbolic' (and, actually, they often are today ... how many times have you heard the 'family' criticise gifts because they were either too little or too generous ... in other words, inappropriate as a 'symbol'?) My own attitude, I find, is that, like you, I don't really believe in superstitions per se - I generally ask 'why?' - but, having established that there is no foundation (that I can see) in a custom, I see no harm in conforming (even if it is only out of respect for those who may see it as significant). 'Bad luck' is probably more down to our own attitude to something than to anything else. There are people who will 'make a silk purse out of a sow's ear' and there are also people who also seem to run into misfortune whichever way they turn. Psychologically, it has been shown that most 'good luck' and 'bad luck' is due to the way that we choose to perceive (and use to our advantage) the thousands of random situations we encounter every day. This is why the 'Law of Attraction' works for many people ... long story in brief!
3 people like this
@dawnald (83852)
• Shingle Springs, California
15 Sep 09
I haven't heard that one, but there is a German one that is similar. My mother-in-law brought us some kitchen scissors and wanted us to give her a penny because it's bad luck to give scissors. I'm not sure if I ever did give her the penny though. But nope, I don't believe in that stuff. I'm not really superstitious about anything, gifts, ladders, mirrors, etc...
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@owlwings (33533)
• Cambridge, England
18 Sep 09
Somebody else has mentioned the German/Central European one about scissors. I'm interested that it got transferred to scissors at some point (scissors being a relatively new invention). I'm sure that the original one applied to knives (or any sharp, cutting instrument) and that, in the English/Celtic tradition, that has somehow been retained. I am, too, not 'superstitious' but I do believe in and am interested in the basis and beliefs behind superstition. I also don't see that any harm (and, perhaps, some good) comes from recognising that others may believe in such things and observing customs out of respect for them.
3 people like this
• China
15 Sep 09
I do think it is not a good way to give a knife as a gift. Firstly, knife is usually sharp. It may hurt others. Also, it means nothing as a gift. It does not show your warm greetings to the recipient. For me, I would not give knife as a gift. Usually I would give some money to the bride and the bridegroom when I am invited to attend their wedding. They can use money to buy what they want. So this is the best way to meet their needs.
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@owlwings (33533)
• Cambridge, England
18 Sep 09
I can see your point. You are obviously thinking of a gift as being symbolic (which most gifts are, in one way or another). I think that the custom of asking payment for a knife (or scissors) is also symbolic. It makes the gift into a 'transaction' and so absolves the giver from any intention of harm to the recipient or any danger of blame on the giver. It's a very old custom in Europe (and very often not known or forgotten). In China you have different (but equally fascinating) customs and 'superstitions' which you probably know but don't even think about as being 'different'!
3 people like this
@jugsjugs (13038)
15 Sep 09
I would never give anyone a knife for a gift as i think that it is bad luck neither would i give someone a knife block as a present as i think that is just as bad as a knife.I would never give anyone a purse with out putting money in it as that is said to give bad luck giving someone an empty purse.Happy Mylotting.
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@owlwings (33533)
• Cambridge, England
18 Sep 09
I know the one about 'giving an empty purse'. Someone here extended it to 'giving an item of clothing with empty pockets' ... the same tradition, I think. The tradition about knives (or anything that cuts) is that it's 'bad luck' to give or receive a knife as a gift without asking for a small sum in payment. The act of paying for the knife or scissors is supposed to completely annul the 'bad luck' ... in other words, the recipient has paid for the implement as if it were sold to him/her, so any significance or 'symbolic intention' in giving such a dangerous object as a gift (and so any harm that it might do the giver or receiver) is defused by that change in the nature of the transaction.
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@zhuhuifen46 (3273)
• China
13 Sep 09
In our culture, we do not give a clock as a gift, as clock pronouns the same as the end. We do not want put an end to somebody, or relationship with anybody. It is funny, but recommended to know about some of the offending signs in other cultures, so that we do not make unnecessary mistakes.
1 person likes this
@owlwings (33533)
• Cambridge, England
13 Sep 09
That is an interesting tradition that I remember hearing about before somewhere. I agree that it's very important to know about and respect other people's culture and traditions, especially in these days of mixed marriages. I can imagine that a groom from another culture could easily give very bad offence to his bride's family by giving the wrong kind of gift!
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@jb78000 (15178)
13 Sep 09
one of my grannies always used to put a small coin in a pocket whenever i got a new jacket. i think that was actually meant to be done when giving a jacket as a gift though. i don't know if this is a common superstition or one that she invented.
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@owlwings (33533)
• Cambridge, England
13 Sep 09
I've heard of that one, too. The theory is, I believe, that if you have a new jacket or pants with something of value in the pocket, it will attract wealth and so you will never be short of money. I've heard the same thing said about giving a wallet (billfold) or purse (the kind you keep coins in, not the handbag kind) as a gift. I remember when I was first given a wallet as a kid, it contained money, whether because of superstition or because the giver was just generous, I don't remember!
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