As we enter the holiday shopping season, your list might include the gift of a knife to a friend or loved one. After all, for those who appreciate a good knife, getting one for the holidays will be a welcome surprise.
Of course, you will want to remember certain things when getting your gift, including local laws around knife ownership and what knife best fits the needs of your recipient.
And, for fun, you might want to include a coin with the gift box. Why? Read on.
Gift a Knife: Include a Penny
For reasons historians have not reached a consensus on, somewhere along the line – way back in the line, hundreds (maybe thousands) of years ago – people came to believe that giving a knife as a gift meant bad luck for the relationship.
In another words, the knife would metaphorically “cut” the ties that bind two people. This affect is even worse if the recipient is your significant other – some believe the love will soon end after the knife is given as a gift or that a knife as a wedding gift will severe the bonds of marriage.
No one wants a gift like that!
That’s why, long before rationality and science started replacing superstition, a tradition began in which those who gift a knife also attach a coin to the blade or include it with the gift. Even a penny will do. The receiver of the knife then gives the penny to the gift-giver, thus “paying” them for the knife and keeping the relationship intact.
Sound weird? That’s because it is. But so is throwing salt over your shoulder, not walking under ladders and expecting seven years bad luck when you break a mirror.
The Origin of the Coin Tradition
As with most superstitions, the exact reason – if ever there was one – is lost in the sands of time. But a simple Google search indicates the topic still comes up often, with many knife sellers saying customers frequently ask them about including a penny or other coin with their gift.
The general consensus remains that since a knife has a blade, it can symbolize cutting something. And in more modern times, a penny has always been considered good luck.
Before the penny existed, finding any kind of metal seemed good fortune, like a gift from the gods. So including any kind of coin did the trick with a knife gift.
So in addition to providing the recipient a chance to symbolically buy the blade with a coin, the coin provides good luck to cancel out the bad luck of the knife.
The superstition remains so well known to this day that Masakage, the Japanese knife-maker, includes a five-yen coin in knife boxes.
So should you include a penny or other coin with your knife gift? Well, it is 2016, after all, and a true fan knows that a quality knife is an absolutely fantastic present. A knife gift is not bad luck, it’s just a really good gift to the right person.
Still, if you know the recipient has a superstitious streak – or you just want an opportunity to tell the coin-with-knife story – than go ahead and include one.
It could make your already excellent gift that much more memorable.