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

Historians have yet to agree on why, but ancient beliefs suggest that giving a knife as a gift could bring bad luck to a relationship. The knife is said to symbolically “cut” the ties between two people, with the effect being particularly dire if given to a significant other, as it’s thought to potentially end the love or sever the marital bond.

Nobody would want to risk that!

To counter this, a tradition emerged long before science overtook superstition: when gifting a knife, a coin is attached to the blade or included with the gift. Even a penny suffices. The knife’s recipient then returns the penny to the giver, symbolically “buying” the knife and preserving the bond between them.

Strange, isn’t it? But it’s no stranger than tossing salt over your shoulder, avoiding walking under ladders, or fearing seven years of bad luck from a broken 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.