Ever wondered why you throw salt over your shoulder or why we put candles on a birthday cake? Superstitions are as old as the human race, and many of them revolve around food. Many of these beliefs make little sense because they were born out of a fear for the unknown or a belief in magic and chance. Whether or not you are superstitious, here’s a look at some food superstitions in honor of Friday the 13th. See how many you know.
Garlic: It has long been associated with warding off evil spirits and vampires. Supposedly, carrying garlic in your pocket will prevent anyone from bestowing bad luck with the “evil eye.” Garlic was often hung in a baby’s room to keep evil away.
Salt: Spilling salt is thought to bring bad luck. Alternately, throwing salt over your right shoulder is said to bring good luck. It’s believed that this blinds the devil and keeps him from sneaking up on you and taking your soul.
Onions: To get rid of a wart, rub the wart with the cut edge of an onion and then throw it over your right shoulder and don’t look back. If you carry an onion in your pocket, it is supposed to prevent heat stroke.
Eggs: Cracking an egg that has two yolks means that there will soon be a marriage. If the egg yolk has a black spot, that is an omen of bad things to come. Farmers would plant an egg in their field to ensure a good harvest.
Bread: It was often marked with the sign of the cross to chase away the devil. If you cut into a loaf of bread and find a hole, this is said to represent a coffin and someone will die soon. It is bad luck to store a loaf of bread upside down.
Tea: There are many superstitions involving tea. Two people pouring from the same pot is thought to be bad luck. Adding milk before sugar to tea is crossing the path of love and you will never get married. If the tag falls off the teabag, you will lose something within a week. If you spill tea while preparing it, you will have good luck. You should always stir your tea clockwise for luck. Undissolved sugar in tea means someone has a crush on you.
Bananas: Never take a banana on a boat if you are trying to catch fish. You should always break a banana, instead of cutting it, to ensure good luck. A careless discard of a banana peel means you will suffer a painful death.
Coffee: If you have bubbles in your coffee cup, try to scoop them up with a spoon and eat them before they burst — you just may receive money from an unexpected source.
Page 2 of 2 - Fruit: Oranges symbolize luck and love. Peaches give you wisdom and bring long life. Seed rich fruits promote fertility. Grapes symbolize abundance. Looking for your true love? Peel an apple in one long peel. When it breaks, toss it to see what letter it forms. That is the initial of your true love. A single apple left on a tree means there will be a death the following spring.
Rice is strong symbol of health, prosperity, and fertility. That’s why we throw it at the bride and groom. Noodles symbolize a long life and should never be cut.
Ever pull the wishbone of a turkey or chicken when you were a kid? Using pinky fingers, two people are to pull the wishbone and whoever gets the longest piece will get their wish granted.
Cake: Candles are placed on birthday cakes to keep away evil spirits that like to invade celebrations. If you blow out all the candles on your birthday cake, your wish will be granted. Just don’t eat the last piece of cake unless you never want to be married.
Peanuts: Some NASCAR drivers shun peanuts in the shell because they feel they bring bad luck. There are many origins for this superstition, but it probably relates to the fact that early races were often held at fairgrounds, and teams would work on the cars underneath the grandstands. As they worked, the fans in the stands would drop their peanut shells which would fall onto the cars and crew. Fatalities in auto racing were common in the early days, and because peanut shells were frequently found in the wrecked cars, the superstition that peanut shells equaled bad luck was born.
Whether you believe the superstitions, it might be worth trying a few if you are looking for a little good luck!
Anita Marlay, R.D., L.D., is a dietitian in the cardiac rehab department at Lake Regional Health System in Osage Beach, Mo.