If you thought athletes had weird superstitions for game day, then welcome to ancient food folklore. No one can out-weird peasants who believed in the evil eye – or that garlic would save them from someone’s bad vibes. (Ugh, if only.)
In honor of the spookiest time of year, get ready for our favorite food superstitions from around the world. But be forewarned: you’ll never look at salt and pepper – or birthday cake – the same way again:
1. Deviled eggs or devil’s eggs, amirite?
Not a single Old World superstition has its mind made up about eggs. According to one from ancient Europe, eggs in a farmer’s field symbolized fertility and harvest. But ask someone from the 16th century, and you might hear that eggs are the devil’s business. Or a witch’s. Seriously: don’t trust eggs ever again, unless you want to risk everything to grow a kick-ass rooftop garden in Brooklyn.
2. A garlic a day keeps the vampires at bay.
We don’t remember Twilight taking advantage of this superstition. (Maybe the producers were too worried about how sparkly vampire skin would play with tweens?) Still, this one’s as old as the hills. Villagers in Central Europe hung ropes of dried garlic from their eaves to keep vampires out and humans in. Word on the street is this works for the evil eye, too. (Thank the gods.)
3. Spill some salt? You’re in for it now.
Forget breaking mirrors or walking under ladders. If you’ve spilled some salt, your soul is in serious trouble. Thankfully, throwing a dash over your left shoulder will “blind the devil and keep him from taking your soul,” say the experts at Bon Appetit.
4. Knives chop symbolically, too, you know.
Never give a knife to someone you love, even if that person asks for it on their wedding registry. Why? The knife will symbolically cut the bond between you and your loved one – at least according to food blog The Kitchn. So unless you want a real-life episode of Chopped on your hands, steer clear of gifting cutlery. (Work-around: including a penny with the present apparently makes this curse null and void.)
5. Omens in your silverware drawer.
We’ve all dropped a piece of silverware on the ground (hey, five second rule, right?). But whatever you drop has implications for who will come knocking. A knife: check the door for a gentleman. A spoon: a child. And a fork: a woman will come calling. Hey, at least it’s not the devil.
6. Bread and certain doom.
Open up a loaf of crusty bread, and you’ve probably encountered an air bubble. What fun! You think. Well, you’d be wrong. The air bubble in a loaf of bread symbolizes someone’s imminent death. No wonder sandwiches weren’t invented until the 18th century – that’s just asking for twice the trouble.
7. More certain doom: bread and the devil.
We’re sure you thought swiping an “X” across the top of a loaf before baking was just good science. Nope. That cross is what keeps the devil at bay. You’re welcome.
8. Happy Birthday! We’ve got your favorite kind of cake.
The kind that keeps demons away. In Ancient Greece, lighting birthday candles on a cake symbolized more than a celebration of the day you were born. The flames kept evil spirits away and played homage to Greek goddess Artemis. And you thought you were just making a wish!
9. No one likes onions.
Have some bad vibes in your house? Forget burning sage. Try putting a needle in a raw onion to keep bad spirits at bay. We don’t know why onions get such a bad rap, but apparently the smell drives away spooks with bad intentions. Do with that what you will.
10. Long noodles bring longevity.
The next time you order a bowl of noodles in a Chinese restaurant, resist the urge to cut them with a knife or the edge of your spoon. According to tradition, slurping your noodles whole means you’ll live a long life – breaking the noodles would only cut it short.
11. Careful with those chopsticks.
Never ever stick a pair of chopsticks straight up in a bowl of rice. Not only is this bad table manners, it’s a straight-up death omen. (The chopsticks resemble incense, which the Chinese burn to honor their dead.)
12. Parsley is seriously the worst housewarming gift.
Who started this tradition, anyway? Parsley’s fine and all, but gifting it to a friend who just moved to a new place sends the wrong message. According to Greek mythology, parsley is linked to the goddess Persephone, who rules the underworld. So unless you want your friend to experience death and hardship, hand them a pot of lavender already.
13. Bad luck bananas.
Dear god, whatever you do – don’t take bananas on a boat. This bad luck charm will make it impossible to catch fish for your supper. Plus your boat might even get lost. Leave the bananas at home, people.
Do you have any superstitions around food or the kitchen? Tell us all about it in the comments below :