Gift Giving Superstitions

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First lets define, "What is a superstition?" A superstition is a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, proceeding, or the like.

There are many different superstitions about gift giving. And within these superstitions are different versions. Many of the superstitions have been carried down from generation to generation and as time passed the interpretations change, hence the different versions. While not knowing exactly how it started or the reason behind them, some families live by these old wives tales of gift giving. When inquiring about a particular superstition and why, many times the response was, “...because that is what my grandmother said!”

Here you will find different superstitions and legends about gift giving that have been carried down from mother to daughter and father to son over the years and even centuries. These gift giving superstitions cover anything from giving a purse as a gift to gifts for the new homeowner to knives breaking up relationships. There are also superstitions and traditions related to weddings from the time the couple gets engaged to the wedding ceremony.


Many of these superstitions can help you to avoid making a gift giving mistake and also play a part in international gift giving. For example, the holiday tradition in a Czech Republic Christmas celebration, is to place fish scales under the dinner plates for prosperity. In many countries, including Switzerland, Germany, Brazil, and Egypt, sharp objects are not given as gifts as it implies severing of the relationship or bad luck. And, in Scotland, the New Year begins with "first footing". The first foot inside the door on the New Year must belong to that of a dark male, bringing gifts of whiskey and shortbread. For gift giving in Morocco, avoid the colors pink, violet, and yellow as these are associated with death.

Do what you will with these tales of good or bad luck, money and broken friendships, revolving around gift giving, after all, they are superstitions!

Gift Giving Folklore
  1. When giving a gift of a wallet, purse, piggy bank or anything that is meant to hold money, you should put money in it so the person will have good luck.
  2. By putting money in a wallet or purse that is being given as a gift, you ensure that the wallet or purse will never be empty of money.
  3. You should never give someone a pair of shoes as a Christmas gift as this will make the recipient walk away from you.
  4. If a lover gives you a knife as a gift this means the love will end soon.
  5. If a friend gives you a knife as a gift you should give them a coin, or your friendship would be broken.
  6. Giving a pair of scissors or knife as a gift is considered bad luck as it said it would cut the friendship in half. To avoid bad luck in the relationship, the gift recipient should give a coin as to "pay" for the gift. It is common for the gift-giver to include a penny, often taped to the blade of the knife, which the gift recipient is to return as "payment".
  7. Scissors or knives should never be given as a wedding gift as this is believed to lead to a broken marriage.
  8. When giving cash, you should always give in odd amounts, $5, $11, $51, $101, etc.
  9. Gifts for the new home owner would be bread and salt to show that the house will never know hunger and it's pantry will always be filled.
  10. Wine for the new home owner would be to signify the years of retirement to come and to savor the sweetness of life.
  11. Seeds for the new home owner to symbolize the growing of the family in that home.
  12. Giving long stemmed red roses with thorns is not a good idea, because they are believed to cause the relationship to suffer.
  13. The first gift opened at a Bridal Shower should be the first one used, so the bride will have good luck.
  14. The person that gave the third gift opened at a Bridal Shower will soon have a baby.
  15. It is bad luck to give an umbrella as a gift.
  16. Gifts with a frog, ladybug, pig, horseshoe with ends pointed upwards, or four-leaf clover theme are considered to provide good luck.
  17. In Chinese culture, giving a clock as a present is taboo due to the Chinese word for 'clock' sounding like the word for 'death'.
  18. Giving a mirror as a wedding gift is to be avoided, especially in Asian cultures. Being that a marriage is supposed to last a lifetime and due to the fragility of a mirror and the resulting bad luck if one is broken, many feel that it would be a risky gift.

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