26 Knife Superstitions You Probably Didn't Know

Posted by Leighton Taylor on

Photo by SOG. Used under Creative Commons.

As knife lovers, we all have our beliefs, superstitions, and idiosyncrasies regarding knives. Some knife owners would never allow another person (with the exception of their SO) to touch their knives. Some don’t buy certain knives because of an “unlucky” serial number--like one having 666. I’ve even heard of one man who has a tendency to buy knives that have serial numbers that contain significant dates such as 1776, 911, or 1415. Like any group of fanatics, we knife lovers are not immune to superstitions, so, to embrace knife fanaticism, today I bring you 26 superstitions all about our most beloved subject: knives.

26 Knife Superstitions That May Surprise You:

#1: Placing a knife under the bed of a woman giving birth is believed to ease her pain during labor.

#2: Sticking a knife into a cradle's headboard is believed to protect the baby. Thrusting it into the door of a house is also believed to provide protection.

#3: In Greece, putting a knife with a black handle under your pillow is believed to keep away nightmares.

#4: Hundreds of years ago, people believed that placing a knife across another piece of cutlery was a sign of witchcraft.

#5: One prevalent belief still held by people today is that gifting a knife to someone will cause the relationship between the giver and the recipient to be severed. To prevent this from happening, the recipient should give a "payment" to ensure that the relationship will not be cut. A small coin is the most popular "payment" given. Some givers often tape a penny to the blade so that the receiver will simply just return it as "payment."

This superstition actually dates back to the Vikings who believe that gifting a knife to someone implies that the receiver isn’t able to buy himself a good enough knife to kill the giver so he has to be given the knife for free. Thus, to avoid the intended insult, Vikings would “sell” a knife to a friend extremely cheap – the cost of one copper coin.

#6: Never stir anything using your knife (like soup or coffee) because that would bring bad luck. There’s even a lovely rhyme to help you remember: stir with a knife and stir up strife. One variant of this superstition includes the fact that the bad luck will mean pain or stitches.

#7: Two knives crossed on a table will cause a quarrel. It is believed that uncrossing or straightening them immediately will prevent bad luck or a quarrel from happening.

#8: Some knife owners believe that you never truly own a knife unless it has "bitten" you (tasted your blood). Once a knife has taken its owner's blood, the owner will never sell or trade that knife with anyone. A similar superstition states that a knife that has “bitten” its owner will stay sharp longer and is less likely to accidentally cut its owner.

#9: Some knife owners also believe that you should never close a knife (either folding it in or putting it back in its sheath) if someone else has opened it because it is bad luck. Some have even given knives away just because this happened.

#10: Bad things will happen if a knife falls and sticks into the floor.

#11: In Iceland, it is believed that when a knife is dropped by someone while cleaning fish and the knife lands pointing in the direction of the sea, the fisherman will get a good haul the next time he goes fishing. If the knife falls and points towards land, the fisherman will not catch anything the next time he goes fishing.

#12: Getting a knife as a gift from your lover means that your love will soon end.

#13: Another superstition suggests that when a knife falls to the ground, a man will soon visit.

#14: A knife made of steel is believed to protect you against curses and fairies.

#15: In Finland, a knife given as a gift is a sign of respect. This is especially true for various clubs and organizations, privately or government held. The knife, a Finnish fixed blade outdoor knife called a puukko, is given to trusted employers or contacts and always presented with the handle first to signify trust and friendly intentions.

#16: It is bad luck to say the word "knife" while at sea.

#17: One old wives' tales about white-handled knives is that they can tell you if your future spouse will be dark or fair by spinning it around. If the knife's handle comes to rest pointing at you (or whoever is asking the question), then that means your future spouse will be fair. If the handle points at anyone else, your future spouse will be dark-skinned.

#18: Another common superstition is that you should never put a combat knife back into its sheath if it hasn't drawn blood because it will fail you in battle.

#19: In some parts of America, people believe that sharpening any blade after the sun goes down is bad luck.

#20: Some hunters believe that the knife you use to kill game (not dress it) should never be handled by a woman.

#21: Slicing hot cornbread with a knife implies cutting your luck. A similar superstition says that piercing bread baked by a pregnant woman with a knife (or any pointed utensil) may cause the baby’s eyes to be poked out.

#22: If you cross your knife with your spoon after eating, you are indicating that the food didn't taste good and that you're wishing the cook to have bad luck.

#23: To make sure that a pregnant woman will give birth to a boy, the husband needs to stick a knife into the mattress of her bed.

#24: In China, it is believed that sleeping on a bed with knives under it will scare away evil spirits.

#25: According to Russian folklore, a knife laying with the sharp side up means that murderers are being born while it is left this way.

#26: Some knife owners, particularly those in the Philippines, believe in coating the blade with their blood if they accidentally cut themselves with it.

And, there you have it--twenty-six beautiful representations of what it means to revere knives (perhaps a little too much?!) As a word of warning though, if you decide to take up any of these superstitions, most women you know won’t take kindly to your stabbing a knife into the headboard of their babies’ beds. That’s one instance where people are wrong who say “it’s the thought that counts.” Just thought you might want to know.

What about you? What are your knife idiosyncrasies or superstitions?

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  • I have owned a knife for nearly 40 years, it snapped across the blade, the handle was still intact. What does this mean?

    ELle on
  • Does anyone know what it means when someone has a knife at the side of one’s bed?

    Keisha on
  • Cool some of the 26 IV heard and some I have not but still cool so I know next time

    Dj on
  • Before drawing blood from another, you must first draw your own blood. “first blood”.

    JWR on
  • my father believed that spinning a knife was bad luck is that true

    andree talbot on

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