The Gifting of Knives: A Question

My grandmother is giving my younger brother, about to move out of the parental home, a set of high-quality knives for Christmas. It occurred to her, after I had gone out and braved the wilds of the local mall to acquire said gift, that there is a superstition that says you give a particular “something” when you gift someone with knves, to prevent bad luck.

While my answer, the oak knife block I got to go WITH the knives, seemed logical, handsome and snappy, she withered me with one of THOSE LOOKS, and told me to go do my homework and find out what else is to be included in this gift.

I have googled this, and found several pages which indicated that he should actually given her back a penny lest the bond be cut; but have not found any references to a go-with she gives him.

So, my question is three-fold: does anyone know what she might be thinking of? where did this come from? and what other superstitions do we know, that we can all smile at, because we know better?

The only superstition I’m aware of is giving a penny in return. My father does this.

I’ve never heard of giving something else with the knives.

[ul]Wolf, Burt. The New Cooks’ Catalogue, © 2000, p. 41[/ul]So this sounds like the coin should come from the gift-giver and not the recipient, but I had never heard of such a custom until I read it in that book, so I have no idea.

Then again, if you’re giving Ginsu knives, they’ll cut through coins quite easily. :stuck_out_tongue:

It happens both ways (i.e. the giver gives the coin, or the recipient gives the coin). Whatever you feel more comfortable with.

I am so not up-to-date on my knife giving manners. Oh woe! I love strange and odd lil’ superstitions!

Hello! This is my first post! My grandfather always told us that you only give a knife to an enemy. Anyone else has to “purchase” your knife gift for a penny or whatever. Many times through the years knives were exchanged in our family as holiday gifts but were always bought for a coin and never just given.

Welcome, ** DragonQueen.** I was always taught to tape a penny to the knife.

I was also taught that Tarot cards should be given or stolen, but never baught. This, however, is another matter.

By “baught,” I mean “bought.” I am having Straight Dope dyslexia this week.

Shit. I’ve been fucking this up for 16 years! I give my husband a knife every Christmas and nearly every birthday. Must…sleep… with…one…eye…op…AAAAARRRGGGGGHHHHHH!!!

Well, I will tell Granny to tape a penny to the gift box then. She’ll feel better about that gift.

I wonder what other superstitions we’ve been screwing up in our “ignorance”?

Actually, when I read the pages i had found, a fair number of superstitions seemed to be rooted in common sense. It’s bad luck to walk under a ladder, because it might fall on you. It’s bad luck to hand a knife to someone blade-first, because you might cut them. A cat onboard ship is considered luck, possibly because it’s going to hunt the vermin which are otherwise eating YOUR food. Straightforward stuff. If your ear itches, however, it doesn’t really seem likely to matter which one it is, you should scratch it.

Yeah, the only gift superstition I know pertains to Tarot cards. Needless to say, I’ve never bought my own, hehe.

Money also applies to gifts of wallets and purses. If you give someone an empty wallet or purse superstition is that it will remain empty. One year I found real snakeskin wallets at a $2 shop and gave them to all my son’s friends. Invariably when they opened the wallet they were amazed to find money in there.

My mother sometimes gives knives as wedding gifts. She always includes a penny for each blade in the set, and gives the same explanation as Earthling’s cite.

Based on the responses in this thread (and my own previous ignorance), I do have to wonder: it may be a superstition, but is it really a still tradition if nobody knows about it any more?

I was taught that just as simple good manners, for the very reason you mention. Same with scissors, and wasn’t aware of a superstition associated with it. But what do I know.

Addendum to the handing-someone-a-knife thing: You hold the blade and present it handle-first, and you don’t let go until they say “Thank you,” so you know the receiver has it and isn’t going to drop it.

That’s what they taught us in Scouts, anyway.