October 04, 2007

knives as gifts -- bad luck?


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In my family, giving a knife as a gift is considered super bad luck. When we get one, we immediately "pay" the giver a coin or, the superstition goes, we risk severing the relationship between giver and givee. Of course, we also have weird traditions about petting this wooden dog statue at my cousins' house every time we pass it and referring to ginger ale as "pinger pale," so what do we know.

But as it turns out, people unrelated to me also believe in this knife thing. Wedding and etiquette websites, in particular, are full of advice about this, and I even found some wacky "it's true; it happened to me!" stories about relationships ended because of a knife gift. No offense, people, but maybe it just wasn't that great a gift. I mean, I love my santoku and my Swiss Army knife, but there are occasions when opening a fancy-wrapped box and finding a knife inside would be underwhelming or downright creepy.

Do you believe giving a knife as a gift is bad luck? What other gift or wedding superstitions do you follow?  Do you think there's a chance this whole "pinger pale" thing will take off?

Posted by Eva on October 4, 2007 in Etiquette , Weddings

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49 responses to "knives as gifts -- bad luck?"

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I don't believe it's bad luck. My husband and I received a butcher block set, and we've had a happy marriage for over 12 years, so far.

Stupid, stupid superstition. My dad gave me a swiss army knife when I was 11. 27 years later he's almost 70 and we're still cool. When is this bad luck supposed to start? Just dumb.
Superstition is for those of weak mind.

What??! That's ridiculous. I gave my bf a beautiful set of global knives for christmas last year and he uses them almost every day :) :). I'll totally be putting knives on my gift registry - best kitchen tool ever!

I gave my dad a cleaver in the late '80s and we're still on good terms.

Although I do believe that it's bad luck to give someone a wallet without putting money inside -- even if it's only one dollar!

I think if you believe something bad is going to happen, then it probably will.

Yeah, totally superstitious. I don't know how these get started, but it amazes me that they still go on and on...

I know this superstition sounds wacky, i haven't had it encounter me, but my Mom believes it completely!
Even when someone give you a "pin" (like a scarf broach) to wear on your lapel, you have to give the person 0.05 cents to ward off the "evil" that they want to prick you. My Mom is sweet, but these superstitions are wacky. Scary thing to be is that Mom is usually right. But I sway between believing it and not.

I don't believe in bad luck, I'ld rather believe in things that bring you good luck and pass it on...

I've heard that when you give a purse, bag etc. you have to put a dollar bill inside, so the person receiving the purse will have no need for money.

I would LOVE to get a set of high-quality kitchen knives as a gift! No one ever gave me the knives on my wedding registry, or any knives for that matter, and we had an unbelievable amount of disastrous things happen to our wedding, and honeymoon! I agree, superstitions are silly! ;~)

In Chinese culture it is not appropriate to give clock as a gift. The word clock in mandarin also means "The End". I follow these superstitions because it doesn't hurt to do so. You never know if the gift recipient is also superstitious.

I only go with superstitions because they can be entertaining and it does give us pause for thought, consideration and something to talk about. All good things in this online, fast and furious world we live in. Most superstitions are based in a concern for well being and avoiding harm- not a bad thing in and of itself. You just cannot let it rule your life- that said....I am a believer in what you think is manifested in life. Read the book, The Secret. If you take it on face value it seems like fancy and nothing of substance- but look at it deeper and you will see some truth to it. I now believe that all pleas for help uttered in desparation like "God save me from this crazy salesperson" or "Heaven help me" or "Just get me through this day" are all prayers. Even cheering on your favorite sports team is a plea or prayer for intersession on some level. GO Mets!!
If you can get your head around all that, then you can understand that a gift given with good wishes and or love and affection is sending goodness into the world and nothing bad will come of it, but if you give a gift and fear that something bad may happen, then perhaps your negative thoughts contrituted to it in some small way.

Hmmmm....I still use the electric knife we received for our wedding and we will be celebrating our 30th anniversary next month. Of course the giver taped a penny to the box - lol! In fact, it's still there :)

Well, the superstition is not that your marriage will be bad, but that the relationship between you and the person that gave you the knives (or that you gave the knives to) will be severed. (cut off per knife speak)...

You know, I don't consider myself superstitious per say, but I usually choose to just not fool with the whole karma thing either. So, do I give knives as gifts? I do, but I charge a penny! (which I give with the gift) Ha!

I figure, I am covered all around!! :-)

WHy...would anyone put it on their registry if that were true. I just bought a santoku knife for my friend's wedding. She better stay married! and we'll stay friends!

im going to a party and im going to ask for pinger pale allllll night long lol

lets see if everyone thinks im drunk haha

Believe it!!!!! My friend just got them from her boyfriend, and they are OVER. Not even speaking and not because of the knives, but a tiff happened and poof...over>>>>>>just 2 days after. Weird gift, but even weirder it is true. DO NOT MESS WITH KARMA or THE UNIVERSE

I don't think it's bad luck. Having said that, I NEVER buy knives as wedding gifts. I know they are fabulously expensive (the good ones) and who wouldn't want to have someone foot the bill for that, but god forbid one of those knives are used in a malicious way and it was a gift from me . . . .

I have a guilt complex already!

No thanks! I'll buy sheets, towels, china...anything else!

Well, I am not a big believer in superstitions...however this thread did get me thinking on how little {nearly non-existent} my relationship has become with my dad & step-mom and they have given me knives as gifts SEVERAL times...hmm...food for thought anyways!

Too funny... about ginger ale that is, have also called a 'pot of tea' a 'tot of pea' for more obvious reasons. Humor in life is a good thing.

Knives? Well, my mother shared this little nugget of knowledge, and the one about wallets, walking under a ladder, black cats, she seemed to know them all!

If I believed any or all of these things I'd be scared to death to do anything, however take precaution using salt or other equally superstitious methods to neutralize them. Give a penny, why not, have the person give it back and you're covered! Put a dollar in the wallet? Why not, they might just need it one day and if the wallet was on sale, no loss. Anyone I'd give a nice wallet to wouldn't be someone I'd scrimp on anyhow.

Weddings are easiest targets for odd beliefs... something borrowed, something blue. If you are prone to guilt, don't break the mirror and DON'T take the chance on imagining you had anything to do with it. At least this is my way of thinking. Give the knives, and the penny, then forget about it. Knives are a great gift, mine I couldn't do without, and I'd welcome someone giving more of quality to beef up my kitchen arsenal. It's not a bad idea to choose a knife they are likely to use though, so it's smart to look into the type of cooking a recipient does in advance.

Alright, but what about giving a letter opener to your dad? does that count as a knife?

oh and by the way, this superstition is not chinese. In chinese culture, giving someone a knife is seen more as a threat than bad luck.

If you have ever received really good knives...not ones intended for a few years, but a lifetime, you will hope that you receive a knife again. Treat yourself and buy a realy good knife $100 +. Only a good friend would give you such a fine gift and i consider the longevity of the gift equal to the longevity of the friendship.

I gave my girlfriend knives for our one year anniversary. We are now getting married 2 years later... I'm not worried.

I just came across mention of this superstition, never heard about it, and was quite a surprise.

My wife and I ALWAYS buy nice knives as wedding present, because:

1. Preparing a good meal together can be a very relationship-building, and even romantic thing.

2. A good knife is the cornerstone of preparing a good meal.

3. Most newlyweds do not have good knives.

4. A little sappy, but I believe cooking for others is a way of feeding from your soul, to theirs.

Oh well, I'll continue to give knives as gifts, unless it's obviously removed from their registry.

I guess you learn something new every day.

I love getting knives as gifts, and like giving them too! I have never had a problem with loosing a friendship over a knife, and don't plan to start soon!

My ex-fiance and I recently broke up 2 months before our wedding. Last month she was supposed to have her baby shower, but because of strains in our relationship, we couldn't do it. A week before the shower was supposed to happen we received a Martha Stewart knife set from her aunt. My mom pleaded with us to mail a coin back to her aunt in the thank you card, but never did. No, she's off with a new guy. I was skeptical at first, but I believe it now.

I ALWAYS purchase knives for couples when they have them on their registry - The best part about a wedding is that you get the nice expensive knives, towels, and sheets...

Anyway, I always tape a new penny (from their wedding year) to the box, but I do it to wish them luck in not cutting themselves.

I agree!!! My mother says the same thing. First of all I have a phobia and secondly I think it is bad luck... I did get knives one Christmas and it CREEPED me out! I was upset... I think it was so NON-Christmas to receive knives!

This is completely true... my husband's close friend of nearly 20 years gave us a beautiful and expense knife for Christmas and the relationship feel apart soon thereafter and it was a back-stabbing sort of situation that was EXTREMELY painful to me and my children...

And our friends (a couple) gave other friends (another couple) a set of knives for their housewarming and their relationship has never been the same since. The receiving friend, aware of the superstion, gave the couple $2 about a wk later, which I personally believe lessened the breakdown of the relationship but hasnt completely mended it.

Lastly, the friends that received the knives were so concerned about the "bad luck" that man in the relationship told his favorite uncle to take the knives. Well shortly thereafter he had a huge falling out w/the uncle and has not talked to him in over a year...


It's totally true.
We received a set of cutlery when we got married. When my wife gets mad, she chases me with the carving knife.

Every thing depends on wether you believe it or not. I too never believed in this knife gifting superstition.
But it worked for my bad luck.
My brother in law and I were good friends than relations. He has settled in Muscat (Oman). I asked him to send a good Barbers Razor for my personal use. He sent the best German Razor as I had never asked for a gift anytime.
For no reason our friendship strained for the last 20 years and we could never patch up till now though there is no reason for strained relationship.

Ok, I just had to respond to this "knife as gift business". Story goes like this. My wife tells this story again and again. Each telling becomes more and more exaggerated but you’ll get the point. Pun fully intended.

She was dating this "terrible" guy who, yes, gave her a knife as a gift. She being a glorious cook, thought it was a lovely gift and set about to wash it. Just at that moment, "terrible guy" thinks it might be funny to creep up behind her and poke her in the ribs.... you're way ahead of me.... yep, she turned or more specifically jumped around, sharp knife still in hand and slashed him across the arm.

They broke up days later.

She kept the knife.

Pinger Pale? Sure why not. That whole knife thing is crazy, I get the superstition but I've never heard it before. I am very superstitious myself too.

Who came up with that anywayz?

I have to believe something about it because I gave my sister a set of knives last Christmas (2008).
It started in January 2009. She progressively got sicker and sicker to the point that she lost so much weight, she didn't want to be left alone so she stayed with my parents leaving her kids at home with her husband. This lasted a month. She finally got better in July but still has episodes now and then. Also, our relationship was tested like never before. We're ok now, but still these things did happen after I gave her the knives.....she gave them back.

As far I am concerned, what's bad luck is not having a knife around when you need it..especially when some people are coming over for dinner, and you have nothing to carve your delicious baked turkey on casserole..

Didn't John Bobbit give his wife a new knife for Christmas one year?

The truth about "bad luck" is it is in the mind of the believer. The voodo man has as much power as that given to him. Can incredible things happen?? Yes! healing, bad vibes etc!! BUT it is within cultural belief systems, just as we believe the medical surgion when he says to us "no worry, weve done this a thousand times and have never lost a patient yet" Could you imajine how you would feel is the sergion said with a worried look on his face " Ah, well, I don't know, well see, some people do make it" your chance of SUCCESS IS LIMETED TO YOUR BELIEF. I believe in God, and in the restoritive body He has given us, and the incredible mind we are born with, and the being made in His immage. We can create our "luck" and direct our lives in our own body and mind by what we truly believe.

Hey very nice blog!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also...

I love knives... So does Dan! ... They're IN baby! .... Throwing Knives, Fighting Knives, Hunting Knives. Survival Knives. Fishing Knives... Knives... You name it.... If they are made by "COLD STEEL!" they are "IN!" made in china.... Well... We'll have to think about it - Cause those might be just "Bad luck!" - But trust me... A good knife isn't going to give anyone any "Bad Luck" - Just Bad luck if they do not have it...

P.S. ,,,, Any one that does believe in the superstition of the knive should know... A knife "IS" a great gift & has been all through centuries. Country against country after a war would give a sword or knife as a gift to "Sharpen their relationship" & in return would be given a coin. to make sure all debts are paid. this in return would be the begining of a trusting open relationship w/ a brother, or even once was an enemy. (F.Y.I.)

Cathy: Yes, you are right, When ever giving a wallet or purse, one is to always put money in the wallet or purse before giving it... this is to represent and never ending flow of wishing of money to always come their way. Giving them a purse or wallet that is emty to some beliefs is saying... Wishing them to always to have an emtpy life with out money. (This is fun... Can't wait till the party!)

I collect swords, knives & Guns.... If anyone doesn't want any of these things... I will be more then happy to take them as a gift off of your hands... (I will not think of it as bad luck you are giving them to me!)

It happened to me too. My friends and I decided to get our friend a really nice Shun santoku knife for his birthday. I was the one who went out to buy it, and other people helped me pay for it. Two weeks later after giving the guy the knife as a gift from all of us, my friendship with him ended dramatically. They're all friends with him except for me. I wonder if there's a way to reverse the curse. It's been nine months and is that too late??


I don't believe in superstitions. Quality knives like Cutco Cutlery is a priceless gift to give for weddings, anniversary, and so forth. The knives have a "FOREVER" guarantee which means generations to generations can pass it down from one another - it's pricey but well worth the investment! The company can sharpen the knives at any time at no cost. If they can't sharpen it, it will be replaced with a new one. My Aunt didn't want to buy a set because she's waiting for her mother in law to pass down her set to her. The knives' blade are the same blade they use for surgery, very sharp, use with caution! This type of knives is the best gift you can give to someone who loves to cook. Oprah, Hillary Clinton, just to name a few celebrity who owns a set. I recommend getting the "Ultimate" set, you'll never need to buy anymore knife in your lifetime. As for superstitions, if you believe in Jesus Christ it should not worry you.

I heard the rumor about knives being bad luck too, but I also heard that taping some money to the knife would negate the bad luck.

I myself do not believe in giving knifes for a gift. That is just my opinion.

There are a few other things I would consider before giving knives as a gift and I could definitly think of more romantic gifts than knives, however, I do love the kitchen, understand the need for quality knives, and would never believe it is bad luck to gives knives. I also respect other´s superstitions. Having a few of my own I know that they may be baseless but they are part of what makes one tick. Good article and even better debate!