Do not talk about your bad dreams to anyone, especially not over dinner, lest they might come true. Found an egg with two yolks in it? You will be blessed with twins. Have an acorn on your person to be forever young. Let’s find out what other food superstitions the world believes in.
The Sanskrit name of garlic, which is Rasona or Lasuona, actually means ‘Slayer of Monsters’. According to many traditional beliefs and superstitions, eating garlic keeps you safe from evil spirits, witchcraft, monsters and especially vampires. Garlic is also sometimes referred to as the ‘Vampire Repellent’.
Superstitions. Irrational beliefs? Myths? Magic? Supernatural processes? Unproven facts? Unexplained causes and effects? Religious beliefs? Unreasonable notions? Perhaps, we will never know. Perhaps we don’t want to know, and just leave it there. Just believe that something we do will bring us that extra good luck, that far-fetched fortune, that unrequited love. And then, belief in the supernatural, irrational, unexplained notions, that something we do will bring upon us ill fate, bad luck, or unwanted mishaps.
Believe in them or not, but you just cannot ignore them. Superstitions could involve anything. They could be about animals, people, things, days, numbers, letters, stars, the way you sit, the way you drink, the way you eat, what you eat and how you eat it. This article tells you about some really amusing food superstitions from around the world. Some have their roots in the Balkanian civilization, while some are European, Roman, Egyptian, and even American. Many of them, on the other hand, are followed universally. Food for the soul is served! Bon appetite!
► Girls, if you spill coffee while drinking it, that means your lover is thinking of you.
► People, if you drop the cup from which you are drinking your coffee, that spells bad luck.
Watch out butterfingers!
► Look out for the bubbles in your coffee mug. According to a Greek superstition, if they drift away from you, hard times are likely to follow. If they move towards you, be happy already, because that’s a sign that you are going to be wealthy in the near future.
Seriously, you gotta have all the time and patience in the world for this.
► If you spill coffee on the saucer, that indicates in-flow of cash!
I spill, er, ‘pour’ my coffee in my saucer and drink it. Always. Am still broke.
► Finding undissolved sugar at the bottom of your tea cup indicates that someone has a huge crush on you.
That’s sweet. Or is it just the ‘sugar’ at the bottom of the cup that’s sweet?
► If you spill tea while preparing it, it means your luck is picking up pace.
Turn up the heat!
► If you spill the beverage whilst it is in the teapot, that indicates a visit from a stranger.
Be careful there.
► Did you unknowingly stir your tea in an anti-clockwise direction this morning? Sorry to say, but trouble’s on the way. Try turning around in a clockwise direction to reverse the spell.
No, don’t do that. I wasn’t serious there.
► If you add milk to your tea before you add sugar, you cross love’s path and will probably never get married.
Will that be a deal-breaker really?
► If the tag on your teabag falls off while the bag is still dipped in your cup, that means you will lose something valuable within a week.
Hold on tight, to the tag as well as to your valuables.
► According to a Roman superstition, eating all four corners of the bread will ensure a well-oiled relationship with your mother-in-law.
Huh? Or, you could eat all five corners of an apple! Wait, there aren’t any corners to an apple, are they?
► If you are unlucky to receive the last piece of bread on the table, you need to kiss the cook to avoid bad luck.
Well, you know what they say… An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but if the cook is handsome, forget the apple and wait for the last piece of bread.
► Another superstition. If the bread you are baking gets burned during the process, it is an indication that your lover is angry with you.
Hell! I too would be angry with me for being so careless.
► Dropped a piece of bread on the floor? Pick it up and make a wish. The wish comes true.
Awwww… Oops! I dropped another piece. Oh! Yet another. Whoop! My floor is all bread-crumby.
► Want to find out if your partner is cheating on you and lying to you about it? Bake a loaf of bread and ask your partner to slice it. Folklore says, cutting uneven slices of bread is a sign that the person is lying.
Look out for extremely even and perfectly cut slices of bread. Your partner might well be aware of this legend, and cut out even slices to cover up his/her deeds.
BREAD and BUTTER
► While walking with your closest mate or your partner or a person whom you are very close to, if an obstacle is to suddenly come between the two of you, such that both of you are forced to walk on either sides of the obstacle, shout ‘Bread and Butter!’ as loudly as you can. This would prevent the development of rifts between you two. This superstition was formed along the lines of the idea that, bread, once buttered, cannot be separated. Shouting ‘Bread and Butter’ would ensure a lifelong bond between you two.
I think this one’s too cute to be made fun of. End of story.
► This superstition is probably the oldest of all. Before tucking in bread dough in the oven for baking, mark a cross across its top surface. This will keep the devil away from the bread and it will thus remain uncured.
I don’t mind doing that, ’cause engraving a cross on it will surely make my bread rise better! Soft, fluffy, well-risen bread? That’s a ‘no devil-er’ for me.
► Freshly baked loaf of bread. Golden brown and soft. Sweet aroma filling the kitchen. Knife. Slicing bread… Hole in the loaf? Undo slicing bread! Undo sweet aroma filling the kitchen. Undo golden brown and soft! Undo freshly baked loaf of bread! Too late!
In England, a hole in the loaf of bread is symbolic of a coffin (or a grave), and indicates that someone in the family will die in the near future.
Seriously. No comments. May be you could slice the loaf when you are blindfolded! Lose the blindfold only after you are done eating all the bread.
► In many parts around Europe, farmers carry a fresh egg with them to their fields, with the hopes and dreams of a rich, healthy crop.
Anything for food. Really, European farmers, do what you gotta do. We want rich, healthy crops and food.
► The most read about superstition is the one in which you should crush the egg-shells or push a fork right through the bottom of the shell after you are done eating the egg. According to this British superstition, if you skip this step, you give a chance to the evil witches to build a boat out of those egg-shells. The evil witch would then roam the world and seas in this egg-shell boat casting evil spells wherever she went.
Don’t know about evil, but this must be one hell of a smelly witch!
A number of superstitions from around the world have been associated with eggs having two yolks. No, seriously, there is a list from various traditions.
A twin-yolk egg could mean:
► you will be blessed with twins.
► an impending marriage.
► abundance, prosperity, and lots of good fortune.
► your expectations will be fulfilled, two-fold!
► your fertility meter is going to shoot up!
► bad luck, and there is going to be a death in the family.
One scientific explanation for all the above superstitions: A twin-yolk egg means the hen was going to give birth to twin chicks. It also means that these eggs are being laid by hens whose reproductive cycles are still in the process of optimization. That is it.
► Mothers would do anything for their babies. Even if it was to pass them through cheese! Women from medieval England would start making Groaning Cheese as soon as they knew that they were pregnant. Groaning cheese is basically a large wheel of cheese which matures for nine months as the unborn baby grows in the expectant mother’s womb. Once the child is born, the family celebrates by eating the cheese from this wheel in a way that only the outer rind remains. The baby is then passed through this rind. This ensures that the baby will lead a long, healthy, prosperous, and a happy life.
Ah, if only, it were that simple.
► In India, eating yogurt with sugar before an exam or before starting a new business venture is considered to bring good luck.
I studied for my exams. And, worked hard for and through my job. And I’ve never tasted yogurt in my life.
That word enough to make you go weak in the knees? Enough to make your mouth water? Enough to make you stop doing whatever you are doing, and start thinking of all the delicious cakes you have ever eaten? Chocolate, blueberry, cheesecake, rum cake, velvet cake, almond-pistachio, fruit rocky road, French silk butter creme, ice cream cake… I can go on and on and on. Cakes are magic! Cakes are love! Cakes are heaven! It is never too early or late for cake… It is always cake o’ clock! If cakes are so fabulous, how could there be any superstition revolving around them? Well, unfortunately, there are, but fortunately, I think, most of them are cute.
► Birthdays are just the best! You are the star for the day, there’s a cake, and you get to make a wish! Want your wish to come true? Make a wish for something that you really, really want before you blow all the candles on your birthday cake. According to an age-old superstition, if you are able to blow all the candles on your cake in a single breath, your wish comes true. Remember to keep it to yourself, for if you blurt out your wish, it is said, it won’t be fulfilled. This superstition finds its roots among the Greeks, who placed candles on the cake to make it look like the moon. They would then offer this moon-like cake to Artemis – The Goddess of the Moon.
How i ‘wish’ it was my birthday everyday! Caught my drift there?
What’s your number one motivation to go to a wedding that has an ocean of people you don’t know? Don’t know about you, but for me, it is definitely the wedding cake! Wedding cakes have a few superstitions to their credit.
The concept of a ‘wedding cake’ was traditionalist by ancient Romans. Most of the following superstitions, as well, are Roman.
► The batter of the cake should be a mixture of the best ingredients ever. A well-baked cake would ensure abundance, prosperity, and happiness in the newlyweds’ lives.
A well-baked cake means happy guests, which means loads of blessings for the couple, which means happiness for the couple. That’s what it means!
► If the wedding cake is to split, that would spell bad luck for the couple.
Tell you what, bad luck to the person who bakes a split cake for me.
► Hey bride! You might be the greatest cook of the millennium, but unless you want to bring upon yourself the ‘curse of hard work for the rest of your life’, don’t bake the cake for your wedding by yourself.
Know what? The bride’s not complaining! She’d rather catch up on her beauty sleep and look like a million bucks on D-day, than sit there baking a cake.
► Every guest at the wedding must have at least a bite of the wedding cake. To refuse would spell bad luck for the married couple as well as the person refusing it.
You refuse cake, I accept cake! Your bad luck, my good luck.
► All the single ladies out there! Want to dream about your future husband? Sneak a piece of the wedding cake to your room, and place it under your pillow and dream away.
Duh! Life’s short! I’d rather eat the cake. The husband can come when he comes.
► The bride should be the one to cut the first slice of the wedding cake. Unless she doesn’t want children. Then it doesn’t matter who cuts the first slice of cake.
Or the second. Or the third.
► The groom should hold the bride’s hand and help her in slicing the wedding cake. This would ensure that the couple is entitled to equal shares of their possessions.
Hey, as long as the guests are entitled to their share of the cake!
► Superstition has it that, when you cut an apple, the number of seeds visible to you is equal to the number of children that you will have.
For the ones looking at starting a family, good luck! And, for the ones not yet there, uh, well, ‘best of luck’ to you.
► I never knew apples could be as fun as they are delicious! According to this superstition, the stem of an apple would tell you the initial of your future sweetheart. Excited to try it already? Here goes. Think of names of at least six boys or girls you might marry or want to marry. Twist the stem of your apple in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction. Start reciting the six names you had earlier thought of as soon as you start twisting the stem. The name you take at the point at which the stem breaks off is the name of the person that you will marry.
Already have a sweetheart? Let all six names be that of your sweetheart. Win-win!
► Halloween Night. Spooky.
Girl eating an apple on Halloween night. Okay.
Girl combing her hair. Okay.
Girl combing her hair in front of the mirror on Halloween night while eating an apple. Spookier!
Reflection of girl and her husband in the mirror. Okay.
Reflection of girl eating an apple while combing her hair on Halloween night and her ‘future’ husband who is not even there?! Spookiest!
The superstition goes something like this: If an unmarried girl eats an apple in front of the mirror while combing her hair on Halloween night, the reflection of her future husband will be seen in the mirror over her left shoulder.
Your future husband is probably ten times in the future… yeah, a ghost.
► This custom slash superstition definitely makes one hell of a party starter. ‘Bobbing apples’: decides who gets married first from a group of bachelors and bachelorhood. Everybody adds an apple to a bucket-full of water. Every boy and girl gets their turn for a specific time limit. Each person needs to take a bite of an apple from the bucket. Sound easy? Here’s the catch. Take a bite, while they are still in the water, without using your hands. The first one to successfully take a bite of an acceptable size will be the first to get married.
First or the last one to get married, doesn’t matter. But I would still take up the challenge and see where I stand!
PEEL of an APPLE
► Considering love and life practically began with Adam, Eve, and the very infamous apple, it is not surprising when you come across truckloads of superstitions that have a combination of love and apples in them. Here’s another one. Try this one at midnight on Halloween. Start peeling an apple, and keep going without causing the peel to break off. Once it breaks or you are done peeling, throw the longest continuous peel over your left shoulder. The letter that is formed out of the peel after it drops to the ground is the initial of your future beau’s name.
Let’s watch the peel making an ‘H’ or an ‘M’!
► No Spaniard would ever risk the happiness of his entire year by skipping the tradition of eating twelve grapes at the stroke of midnight on New Years’ eve. This Mexican superstition-cum-tradition is being followed since ages, and failing to follow it brings bad luck. Each grape symbolizes a single month of the year. So, if a grape is sour, then the month it stands for would not go your way. On the other hand, if the grape is sweet, then the corresponding month would totally be in your favor.
Eat the grapes and miss the midnight kiss, did you say?
► Love really does make people do crazy things. If you are hopelessly in love with someone, and want him or her to reciprocate the same way, instead of giving them roses or gifts or chocolates, give them oranges. According to this superstition, oranges invoke feelings of love.
Well then, I guess oranges are the new flowers and chocolates.
► If you have the fruit on board, you won’t catch any fish.
Again, there is a scientific explanation to this one. These fishing boats were also vessels that were used to deliver bananas. Bananas are known to have a low shelf life, and need to be delivered as soon as possible. The fishermen were pressed for time on such fast-sailing boats, and hence, were unlucky with their catch.
► A cargo of bananas on board would kill all men on that boat or ship.
Heard of a gas ethylene being emitted by bananas as they ripen? This emission is harmful and could have a grave effect on the people aboard. Come on!
► Having bananas on board would cause the vessel to sink. Vanish. Poof! Never to be seen again.
You unlucky banana, you! Read to see how garlic can help you.
► Sailors and boatmen are so superstitious that they won’t even allow banana pies, banana-flavored sunscreen, or even clothes by the brand Banana Republic!
► If a lady eats conjoined bananas, she is likely to give birth to twins.
First it was twin-yolked eggs, and now conjoined bananas! Food is on a roll here.
► You should never cut a banana with a knife. It invokes bad luck.
Good luck eating pies and custards with whole, uncut bananas.
► This sweet-looking, sweet-tasting fruit is not at all to be spoken of by tank drivers. It is considered to be very unlucky. This is because, during World War II, every tank that broke down, contained a shipment of apricots, and ever since, a tank has had a mechanical breakdown, it has been related to apricots in some way or the other.
These are statistics. You cannot mess with statistics and proof. So, if you are a tank driver, mum’s the word. Not apricot.
► On a brighter note, the English believe that a dream about apricots indicates good luck in the future.
Dreams without tanks I suppose?
► On an even brighter note, the Europeans consider the apricot to be an aphrodisiac, and an aide to improve fertility.
There, there. That makes you happy, doesn’t it?
► According to Christianize societies and the Druids, standing beneath an oak tree during a storm would protect you more than any other tree would. Or placing a few branches from an oak tree that has been struck by lightning, is said to protect the home.
► The Druids also believed that, an acorn kept on a window sill is said to protect that house or building from being struck by lightning. This superstition probably stems from the fact that the Norse God Thor had rescued himself from a thunderstorm by taking refuge under an oak tree.
► A very strong British belief is that wearing an acorn on the self deters aging.
Girls and ladies, you wish!
► According to another Druid folklore, acorns can also reveal the fate of your love life. A couple can read the future of their relationship by immersing two acorns in a bowl of water. It is believed that, if the acorns float together, the relationship will experience smooth-sailing all the way. But if the acorns are to drift apart, the couple might not have a very bright future together.
► Garlic is believed to be very effective against evil, and is used by Europeans, Indians, Chinese, Japanese, and other Asians as protection against dark witches, vampires, and evil spirits. The Eastern European belief that hanging garlic at your doorstep would ward off vampires, is still going strong even today.
► According to one American folklore, garlic cultivated in the month of May and eaten in April is considered to be the most effective.
Healthy cultivable conditions = healthy crop, no?
► Garlic’s Sanskrit name actually means ‘slayer of monsters’. These monsters aren’t just restricted to vampires and witches. Garlic is believed to possess amazing healing powers. Popular belief in places like Cuba, England, and many parts of Europe, suggests that garlic can cure tumors, leprosy, plague, sunstroke, toothaches, and snakebites.
► Garlic is also considered a source of strength, and is known to increase endurance. Greek athletes consume garlic before their competitions. Egyptian slaves were fed large amounts of garlic, in order to be able to survive long hours of hardship.
► When traveling on water, carry garlic cloves with you. This would ensure a safe travel, and prevent your boat or ship from sinking.
That’s an antidote to bananas there! Rejoice!
► Dreamed about garlic? You are in for some luck and adventure. Dreaming about garlic indicates you will discover a hidden treasure.
► If oranges are used to attract love, use garlic to repel it. Place a peeled garlic bulb after sticking in two crossed pins in it on a crossroad or a road intersection. Make the poor lover (who has no clue what future holds for him or her) cross this mighty apparatus, and wait as you watch them getting non love-struck!
Want to cut off all ties with a lover but cannot man up to say it? The humble garlic comes to your rescue.
► While cooking, do not pass on a red pepper to someone directly. Passing peppers directly to someone would cause rifts and arguments between the two of you. To avoid this, place the pepper on the kitchen platform, and let the other person pick it up from there.
Now I know what I need to do in order to ‘break-up’ a relationship!
► Don’t throw onion peels on the floor. That would mean you are throwing away your luck, and are inviting tough times.
Yeah, that would also mean a soiled floor and extra cleaning. Not needed.
► Americans believe that if you rub the edge of an onion against a wart on your skin or any other skin disorder, you will be cured. The wart or disorder will vanish, never to appear again.
Try it at your own risk.
► According to a popular British belief, a string of onions, or just a single one, with enough pins stuck into it, placed on a window, would protect your home from evil.
► Ancient Roman dinners would be incomplete without lettuce. Why you ask? Because ancient Roman dinners would be incomplete without wine. What is the connection right? Lettuce is excellent at absorbing the wine and helps in maintaining sobriety.
Having lettuce on the menu was a tradition, eating it or not would be your choice of course.
► Ancient Egyptians used lettuce as an aphrodisiac. It was added to charms and potions, and was a staple at wedding celebrations.
Love-struck, are we?
► British women of the 1800s believed lettuce was a ‘sterile’ plant. It was known to increase fertility. Lettuce helps a lady in conceiving. If consumed by a pregnant lady, lettuce is known to ease the process of childbirth.
So, if you are trying to have babies, you know what to do. And if you are trying not to have babies, you still know what to do!
► Since time immemorial, salt has been associated with virtues like life, hospitality, trust, friendship, and religion. According to a European belief, spillage of salt was considered as breach of these virtues, and was known to invoke evil spirits or the demon himself. A cure to this supposed belief is to throw a pinch of salt over your left shoulder.
Wait. That would mean spillage of salt. That means you invoke bad luck. Going around in circles, are we?
► On the flip side, salt is also used as a defense mechanism against evil forces. It is said that in order to get rid of the curse of the evil eye or stink eye brought upon by the devil, you should throw a pinch of salt over your left shoulder with your right hand. This is supposed to blind and ward off the devil who overlooks you and spells bad luck for you.
How about we try ‘this’ on the devil? ‘Any devil worth his salt will attack upfront rather than wait and stab us in the back.’
► It is a universal belief that you must cry out enough tears to dissolve the salt that has been spilled on the floor. This is believed to reverse the direction of the bad luck that was headed your way.
Onions in action I suppose? How else do you plan to cry so much?
► ‘Help them to salt, help them to sorrow’. It is considered unlucky for the person being helped and the person offering help to help someone season their food with salt. You should never offer salt to another diner at your table.
Yeah, just make sure there’s enough to season your own fries! Like, mind your own business really.
► Want an old love of yours to return to you? Burn a pinch of salt every morning for seven days straight.
If you want them back, you know what to do. Don’t call them. Go old school, by burning salt, which would release a smoke signal in the sky that will be seen by your lover. In case they miss it, don’t stop burning salt until the smoke signal comes to their notice.
► This one’s fun! A newly wed couple is showered with rice by the guests at the wedding. This practice ensures a life full of happiness, prosperity, well-being, fertility, and never-ending wealth. Traditionally, rice symbolizes goodwill, positive, good health, and fortune. Guests at the wedding throw rice over the newly weds, as it also drives away evil and blesses them with a happy married life. The roots of this superstition are not clear, as it is sometimes credited to American traditions, and sometimes to ancient Roman or Egyptian beliefs.
If the bride with the ‘really elegant hairdo’ is okay with it, the groom should be okay with it too.
► Two Filipino superstitions that revolve around rice are:
1. If you eat the hardened rice from the bottom of the pot in which the rice was cooked, you will be the ‘last one in everything’, be it a race, in class, at work, or in life.
The scorched rice at the bottom of the pot is blackened, hard, burned and tasteless… who would want to eat it anyway?
2. If you don’t bring uncooked rice with you when you shift to a new house, ill fate would never stop following you.
What would we do if it wasn’t for rice? I guess, never switch houses.
► The Chinese have their own set of superstitions about rice. Young, single females should eat every single grain of rice served on their plate. The number of grains left uneaten is equal to the number of pocks/freckles on their future husband’s face.
Ladies, save yourself the embarrassment and finish up all the rice on your plate.
► This superstition goes way back in time, way back when there were Pharaohs ruling over Egypt. Egyptians believed that black-eyed peas were the humblest of foods. Eating these lentils displayed humility and modesty. This would save them from the anger and curses of the Gods.
► American tradition believes that eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s eve invites good luck into their lives, and ensures prosperity and good health for the next twelve months.
A recent fun element that has been added to this tradition, is that of a coin being added to the cooked dish. Whoever finds the hidden coin is believed to receive extra good luck for the coming year.
As long as black-eyed peas is not the only food being served, bring it on.
► Who are we? Chinese.
What do we want? Noodles.
How do we want them? Long and uncut!
Why do we want them long? Longer our noodles, longer we live!
Legend has it that the length of your noodles determines the longevity of your life. Cutting noodles before serving them is symbolic of cutting short some years off your life.
Now you know the secret to a long life. It is not healthy living, not healthy eating, not regular exercising; but long noodles.
► Statutory Warning: This one is not for the fainthearted. And certainly not for the ones who love chewing gum. Go ahead and read it only if you are strong enough to forget it later.
According to the Turks, if you chew gum at night, you are essentially chewing the flesh of the dead!
Eeeww. Told ya!
► This is probably the most common and fun-loving superstition/belief of all times. The ‘wishbone superstition’ can be traced back to Etruscan civilization. The collarbone of a bird (mostly always turkey), was considered lucky and worthy of being wished upon. The tradition is that two people pull the two ends of the wishbone with their ‘Pinky’ fingers only, and whoever gets the larger piece, gets to make a wish over it. The wish is said to come true.
Ladies, make love, not war. Flash that pretty smile and blink those starry eyes, and ask for the entire wishbone.
Boys, do it the original way! Fight it out!
► According to an ancient Chinese superstition, sticking chopsticks upright in a bowl of food, more particularly rice, is disrespectful and brings about ill luck. Sticking chopsticks upright in food is a practice followed only at funerals.
I wouldn’t do something that reminds me of a funeral, I don’t think you should either.
► Another belief states that if you find an odd pair of chopsticks on a Chinese dinner table setting, you will miss a flight, train, or a boat.
Uh, no! You woke up late on the morning of your flight, that’s what made you miss it.
SPOONS, FORKS, KNIVES
► The origins of this superstition aren’t very clear. According to popular belief, if a knife falls accidentally on the kitchen floor, be sure to expect a visitor in the form of a man. On the same lines, if a fork falls accidentally on the ground, you will be visited by a female; and if it is a spoon that falls accidentally on the ground, then you can expect company in the form of a baby.
In a certain Encyclopedia of Superstitions, I came across this rhyme. Thought I’d share it with you. It is kind of catchy too.
“Knife falls, gentleman calls;
Fork falls, lady calls;
Spoon falls, baby calls.”
You can never decide the true value of these superstitions. You can never understand the rightness or wrongness in them. All you can do is either believe in them or just choose not to. The choice is yours.