The Cutting Edge

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Knife Myths: Giving Knives as a Gift is Bad Luck

We’re continuing our quest to bust some of the most prominent knife myths. To read out previous entries, see our Knife Myths category.

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“Is giving a knife as a present bad luck?”

Yes, that’s something we’ve been asked before, and though it might seem crazy, there’s actually a pretty old superstition that giving a knife as a gift is bad luck.

I’m here to tell you with the utmost conviction that it’s nothing more than an old wives tale that holds absolutely no truth.

So where did this old myth come from? Let’s take a look.

The Origin of the Myth

The true origins of the myth seem to be lost to time, but the meaning of the superstition makes perfect sense. The logic is that a knife can symbolize the severing of a relationship, so you shouldn’t give it as a gift for events, especially weddings. A knife, they say, will cut the ties that bind a friendship together.

This thinking is nothing more than old superstition. It has about as much weight as the belief that if a bird takes a poop on your shoulder, you’ll become rich (yes, some people actually believe that).

Ways to Combat the Superstition

Even though the superstition is downright fantastical, there are people who want to avoid any possibility of bad luck (these are the same people who refuse to walk under a ladder or open an umbrella indoors despite acknowledging its absurdity).

Fortunately, if you’re highly superstitious or are giving a knife as a gift to someone who might be, there’s actually an old tradition that still allows you to give a knife as a gift without worrying about any consequences (because let’s face it, not only are knives badass gifts but they’re also very popular gifts).

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To bypass the superstition, the giver of the knife must tape a penny to the box. That way when the recipient receives the knife, he or she can give the penny to the giver and essentially “pay” for their gift, thus negating the superstition.

Even if you don’t believe in that superstition, this is actually a cool conversation starter and fun tradition.

In fact, some companies, specifically Parker River Knife Company, already tape pennies to their boxes, so you have an instant gift for someone.

Flip Sides to the Myth

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The myth that knives are bad luck is prominent in some cultures, but in others, knives are actually good luck.

For example, in Finland, receiving a puukko (a Finnish belt knife) as a gift is considered an honor, and in the United States, many parents give knives to their children as a rite of passage into adulthood.

Here are a few more knife myths in other cultures: A knife is seen as a great defense against fairies and curses. A knife stuck in a baby’s headboard is supposed to protect it. A knife under a mother’s bed will ease the pain of childbirth.

Conclusion

As with any superstition, there is nothing remotely scientific about the myth that giving a knife to someone as a present is bad luck. If you’re superstitious, there’s a pretty easy workaround, so there’s no need to be hesitant about giving a knife to someone.


Tim

Timothy Martinez Jr. is the community director for Knife Depot and the editor of The Cutting Edge. If you have any questions or ideas for The Cutting Edge, you can contact him at Tim@knife-depot.com.
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31 Comments

  1. As to the observation ‘Does the giving of a knife bring about bad luck?’, our family has been exchanging blades for over 20 years and while not appreciated or even desired by the womenfolk I believe the symbolism runs much deeper The desire to exchange bladed gifts transcends the idea of practicality & thoughtfulness in ways some have a hard time comprehending if they’re not the recipient (maybe they wish they were). Good luck & good health along with a clear mind, healthy body. Enjoy!

  2. Silly. I give knives out all the time. Everybody loves them.

  3. I’d be more than happy to get a knife as a gift.

  4. You can’t go wrong giving a man a knife for a gift unless they are one of the new girlie men we see at obozo clown rallies.

    • It’s absurd to think let alone post negative comments like yours. In order to not to be girlie a man should carry a knife? A knife doesn’t make a man more manly, only a weak man who lacks testosterone that post negative comments and secretly attends obozo clown rallies would say such nonsense.

      • here here, what a maroon!! how on God’s green earth does 1 manage to bring POLITICS or some wilfully obtuse, snarky, juvenile jibberish into a conversation about knives as gifts & the attendant superstitions. is there something in the water these days?!

    • You’re going to be shocked to hear this, but “girly” men, and actual girls, use, carry, value, and enjoy knives. Next time you’re thinking of mugging one, remember: they could have a knife on them.

  5. I’ve never heard of it being bad luck. Probably some whiney Obama-lovin’ liberal who came up with that.

  6. Wow, Been building and giving knives as gifts for years, my family expects them now. Knives are tools on the job site, kitchen and in the shop, I would rather them have good tools instead of trash made overseas. Give me a Buck or American made Kershaw anytime. It’s bad luck to be cutting with trash made in Pakistan or India, that’s for sure.

    • oddly enough, about 20 yrs ago, Pakistan was turning out decent 2nd rate knives. alas, alack no more. they were cheaper but u got good value cuz they held up 4 a long time. my uncle recently gave me a whole mess of knives that incl a coupla Sicilian switchblades, old BUCKS, boy scout #’s still in the box from the mid60’s & some brass & wood Pakistani jobs. i recognized them immediately & was startled that I’d never noticed how well, albeit rudimentary, they were. now it’s just junk from china everywhere u turn unless u have enough sense(& the NEED) to pony up for better.

  7. Women do love knives I’ve carried a pocket knife most of my life and am considered old now. I found this information while looking on the facts about giving a knife as a gift for Christmas and the gift is to a FEMALE girlie girl, friend. She comments often when I use mine about how handy a pocket knife is and how she never realized how often she would use one if she had one. We are neither one tom-boys so to the man who thinks women don’t desire or appreciate a knife is descrimanating and a shovanist. Merry Christmas.

    • Very true! To think like that shovanist…now thats a superstition!

      • Knives are incredibly useful and a nice gift, so agree with the sentiment.
        A lot of poeple these days don’t carry pocket knifes, but they really are handy, even if only for lunch or the odd thing.
        Found mine really handy in france. Bought a bageattue, some cheese, tomatoes, and a nice bottle of wine – lunch sorted in the park.
        Wouldn’t be possible without a pen knife.

        But it’s spelt chauvinist, and you mean male chauvinist.
        As chauvinist means “a person displaying aggressive or exaggerated patriotism.”
        Named after a french soldier who has particularly patriotic to the point of receiving ridicule: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolas_Chauvin
        Quite annoying how the word has been corrupted by feminists and those whos only exposure to it was the modern “male chauvinism”

        Anyhoo, knives are great gifts regardless of age or gender.

  8. I have been carrying a knife since I was 10 years old. I am now 62 years young. I’ve been through several, but keep coming back to my Swiss Army or my Leatherman Multitool. I even have a stash of knives in my car, truck, bug out bag and purse.

  9. My ex girl friends father makes knifes I asked him for one and also will help so I can learn he said absolutely but when give you this knife have a penny for me if you don’t you wont get this knife. End of story we split up I never got the knife and still carry a penny in my pocket in case I catch him in a random scenario lol

    • If it wasn’t a nasty break up, call him and say something like ” Hello Mr. Soandso, it is unfortunate that my relationship with your daughter did not work out, however I would still really enjoy having the chance to learn from a Craftsman like yourself, and have a knife to remember it by. Tell him how you still carry that penny. That will help

  10. Went to the Royal Amours ,there’s some some pretty gold handled brutal Indian and Pakistan weapons to seen there

  11. never sheath a dirty knife…it will be dirty when you nees it again…………

  12. I just want to say, claiming something isn’t factual simply because it is superstitious is foolishness. You gave no argument other than the contradictory claim against the Superstition itself. Now I have giving knives as gifts for years, and every single time I have given a knife as a gift without requesting a penny in return that relationship has been severed. For no explanatory reason. Strong friendships broken, fiance’s departed, their fathers suddenly hating me out of nowhere.

    Be careful what curses you laugh off! Be careful who you gift knives to!

  13. I do personally think its right to gift a penny with a knife… my grandfather’s both did this my father does this and I do it too because I believe it counteracts any potentially negative symbolism. I like the idea of carrying on traditions like this its part of my culture and upbringing. I also dont think we put enough care and conscience thought into our actions and relationships these days. Thats something we are losing with my grandfathers’ generation it’s very sad to me and maybe the little extra thought or superstition, if thats what you prefer to call it, is one of the little differences that made them different than my generation and younger ones.

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