There seems to be a superstition for everything. Some superstitions have a curious logic to them, some are insane mysteries even after an explanation, and some are just beautiful ways of looking at the world.
See, we have a tendency of believing more is at play than meets the eyes. It’s why we cross our fingers, worry about black cats, and fear Friday the 13th — likely until we die.
Although you’re surely more superstitious as a child long before you figure out how the world works (if you ever do or even come close to), a few superstitions never really leave you. They lurk in your senses. Here and there, they make you do little things like knock on wood and lock eyes with those who you’re cheersing.
And if you think the world of food has been left out of the dramatic equation, you are assuredly mistaken. Every community, country, and culture has superstitions about food. Even if you know to do it, you aren’t sure why. Here are a few fascinating ones!
Shelled Peanuts Are Bad for Race Car Drivers
Don’t try to talk to a NASCAR driver, or even enter his crew’s pit, if you have shelled peanuts on you. It’s bad, bad luck. This actually dates back to rumors circling some bad race car crashes in the 1930s. After a photograph was published featuring what appeared to be a peanut in the wrecked car’s grill, rumors arose and the legend stayed. In fact, mechanics of the era would often find peanut shells in engine cylinders, with the haphazard fans in attendance most likely responsible, of course.
Long Noodles, Long Life
Don’t cut your noodles. Keep them long instead. Long noodles signify a long life in Chinese culture. There’s never been a tastier way to celebrate longevity.
Two Egg Yolks Means Babies
As eggs symbolize fertility, you might have an idea of what finding two yolks in a single egg means — having twins. With that in mind, farmers would scatter egg shells on their land to encourage more abundant crops as well.
Eating Grapes for a Year’s Worth of Good Luck
In Spain and certain South American countries, a good New Year’s Eve means snacking on 12 (lucky) grapes, one for each of the months to come. That’s the ideal scenario anyway. If the grape is sweet, that month will be great for you! But if it’s sour, that’s a bad month to come.
Bananas on Boats Are Bad Luck for Fisherman
Fishermen have absolutely no interest in seeing a banana on their boat. It’s bad luck for those who want to catch fish and possibly an overall bad omen for safety of the crew. Legend has a few ways why, but there’s no concrete source of the superstition. In one origin tale, long ago, bacteria found in a cargo of bananas killed everyone on board. Regardless, it’s evenly held today. Don’t try it!
Don’t Smell Basil Unless You Want a Scorpion in Your Brain
Basil has a history of surprisingly wild powers. For starters, it was once believed that basil could cure the gaze of the mythical basilisk. Somehow, that morphed into a kookier story, thanks to a French physician named Hilarius, who put forth that simply smelling basil would breed a scorpion in the brain. Hooray!
Cut a Cross Into Your Soda Bread or Who Knows What’ll Happen
While it may seem obvious to assume the cross cut into freshly baked Irish soda bread is merely a Catholic tribute, there are actually some rather curious possibilities at play. Some say you do it to let the fairies out; some say it’s to keep the Devil from sitting on your food. Either way, it’s probably best to play it safe.
Parsley Means Bad Luck (Unless You’re Pregnant)
For a garnish, parsley keeps up a score of rumors. Bringing it as a gift also brings bad luck, while planting it can supposedly help a woman become pregnant from afar. However, oddly enough, there may be problematic ingredients for pregnant women found in the plant’s oils.
Onions Keep Away the Bad Spirits
You may not be paying attention to the world of voodoo, but that doesn’t mean the spirits won’t find you. If that notion stirs up any unease, then you best place a small onion in your windowsill with pins in it. That’ll keep shadows from the other side creeping in.
Throwing Pomegranates for Good Luck, Of Course
A pomegranate is a richly colored, edible token of good luck in Eastern European countries like Greece and Turkey. More specifically, that’s the case come New Year’s Eve. As the fruit arguably resembles a human heart — a symbol of life and fertility — the annual tradition is to throw a pomegranate on the ground. Judging by how open it pops upon impact (the more the better) you can see how good your luck is to be in the new year.
Throwing Rice at Newlyweds for All the Right Reasons
Like today, wedding guests of ancient Rome just wanted their friends and family to be happy. Rice was an abundant resource back then while also happening to symbolize fertility and wealth Thus, it made sense to shower the newlyweds in such (edible) well-wishing.
Throwing Salt Over Your Shoulder (to Blind the Devil On It)
The most beloved of reasons for us fearing the act of spilling salt is because Judas did it in Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. The guy doesn’t exactly have the best reputation. So if you spill salt, you toss a pinch over your left shoulder in order to blind the devil waiting there. That way, bad luck won’t befall you.
Garlic Drives Vampires Crazy and Who Are We to Stay They Aren’t Real
Look, as much as you want to write vampires off as fake news, you can’t be too careful. Who knows what’s out there in the world, lurking and moving in the shadows? All I’m saying is just because you’ve never seen a vampire doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Maybe it’s time to start rocking garlic necklaces. The superstition is that garlic will keep vampires away from your paper-thin skin and the very delicious blood beneath it. Garlic also protects you from the Evil Eye. So be careful out there — especially today!