A Gift of Knives- Folk Belief

“If a friend gives you knives as a gift you have to give them a penny in return or the knives will cut your friendship”

The informant was born and raised in Long Beach, CA. Her mother is from Texas and her father was from Arkansas.

The informant could not recall when she first heard this superstition. But she had experience with it. When she was in her late 20s she received knives as a present from a friend at work. He then told her that she had to give him a penny in order to keep their friendship. She forgot to give him a penny and hasn’t seen or heard from him since then. The informant finds her experience ironic, and believes that it usually doesn’t hurt to follow a superstition’s rules “just in case” because you never know.

I actually had never heard of this folk belief before, but I’ve also never received knives as a present. Apparently in many cultures giving someone a knife usually means that your friendship is over or terminated. So giving knives as a gift is considered bad luck. I believe this folk belief is a conversion type superstition. In America a penny represents good luck and is used to convert the bad luck from receiving knives into good luck. However some people think that the penny is given in payment, so that you are actually buying the knives from your friend instead of accepting them as a gift. There is no bad luck attached to purchasing knives from someone.