“Blow a candle and make a wish,” “Use this for bad energies,” “A little of that will give you good luck”… How true will superstitions be?
Although some seem meaningless or were created thousands of years ago, many of them have become commonplace traditions. Today we will tell you the origins of 7 famous superstitions on our favorite topic: food. Before we begin, let’s talk about the meaning of superstitions:
What are superstitions?
According to the Oxford dictionary, “superstitions are beliefs that have no rational basis and consist of attributing magical or supernatural character to certain events or thinking that certain facts provide good or bad luck.”
While the Royal Spanish Academy defines superstitions more simply as “Beliefs strange to the faith religions to and contrary to reason.”
As we see, both meanings rule out rational thinking. When talking about superstitious beliefs, many are notexplained by historical or spiritual references, but instead by myths and legends.
Have you ever thought that your destiny might change if you use a particular item or fulfill a family custom in a certain way?
There are many examples of superstitions about food, but today we will be able to tell you 7 of the most popular superstitions from around the world. Even if you’re not superstitious, you’ve probably heard or may even believe in some of them.
1. Eating grapes on New Year’s Eve
This is a Spanish tradition that is celebrated in several Latin American countries.
It consists of asking for 12 wishes and eating a grape for each one. The grapes are to represent the months of the year and if they are eaten to the rhythm of the bell chimes on New Year, it will bring good luck.
There are also those who believe that the more grapes they eat just before the arrival of the New Year, the more abundance they will have in that year. Eating grapes, one after the other and without choking, becomes a very funny challenge!
2. Garlic to ward off bad energy
Now let’s go with one of the best-known protection amulets: garlic. I’m sure you’ve seen movies that say a garlic necklace will protect you from vampires.
There are those who believe that hanging garlic behind the door of their home or business will help them ward off envy, bad energies or what is popularly known as “the evil eye.”
People also think that hanging garlic on the kitchen wall helps attract prosperity and money. What superstition do you associate garlic with?
3. Spill salt on the table
If you accidentally spill salt on the table, there are those who say that it will bring you bad luck.
It is thought that this belief began in ancient times, when salt was a precious and scarce commodity that could not be wasted. If that happened, it was a real disgrace!
In fact, did you know that the word salary comes from the word salt? In the Roman Empire this seasoning was so valuable, it was used as a form of payment and its monthly delivery was called “salarium.”
If you mistakenly drop salt while eating, there’s a way to reverse bad luck: grab salt in a fist with your right hand and throw it over your left shoulder.
Note: There are many rituals in which salt is used to cleanse, purify and protect the body and spaces, but that theme deserves a separate article.
4. Throwing rice at weddings
Throwing rice on newlyweds as they leave the church is very famous around the world.
It is believed that this practice came from the East, where rice symbolizes happiness, prosperity, wealth and fertility for the couple.
There are also historians who say that ancient Romans threw wheat as a symbol of a good harvest or abundance. In the Middle Ages, wheat was changed to rice.
5. Birthday cake
Celebrating a birthday with cake is a much older tradition than we think. There are historical references to the Greeks, Egyptians and Romans celebrated their birthdays centuries ago with special cake, though it is not known exactly what culture gave rise to what we know today as the birthday cake, a round cake with candles.
One version says the idea was born in Greece, when this culture sought to mimic the shape of the moon and its radiance to honor its goddess Artemis. Other cultures believed that cake symbolized a circle that protected the honoree from evil spirits and brought good luck.
The Germans are also credited with popularizing the birthday cake, as they used it in their celebrations by placing a single candle in the middle to symbolize “the light of life.”
In the present, there are birthday cakes of many shapes, flavors and colors. There are those who prefer to place a candle for each year cerebrated or even fill the whole cake with them!
If we talk about the current meaning of birthday cake, it will vary by culture. In general it is believed that candles represent light and that blowing them out, while first asking for a wish, marks the beginning of a new stage of life.
6. Cut the noodles
Some prefer to cut the noodles in half before cooking them to make them easier to eat. Do you do this?
This practice is not widely accepted by the more traditionalist Italians, who claim that pasta should only be cooked whole.
Additionally, in Chinese culture long noodles symbolize longevity, so cutting them in half is a way to detract from life. For the same reason, other Asian cultures have a habit of siping whole noodles, rather than biting them before putting them in their mouths.
Here in the West this belief has not gained many followers because culturally the sound that noodles produce when slurped whole is considered rude.
7. Pumpkins to catch bad energy
A pumpkin is not only used to make decorations and traditional dishes on Halloween.
In various parts of the world there are people who believe that this vegetable works to absorb bad energies and the pumpkins are placed in a high traffic area of the house or place of work through which many people circulate.
The pumpkin is said to turn black and rot as it has caught negativity. When the squash completely darkens, it’s time to discard it.
This concludes our number of promised superstitions!
Did you know about all these superstitions? What do you think?
It is very curious to see how common foods throughout history such as rice, garlic or salt have gone on to hold certain “magic” properties and to occupy such an important place in popular culture.
If you know more superstitions associated with food or gastronomic customs, we encourage you to share it with us. We would love to read about it!
P.S. Using 7 superstitions in this article was totally random pick or maybe we did it to attract good luck.