Gifting Shoes is Bad Luck

M is 50, and was raised in the Caloocan area of metro Manila, Philippines, and currently resides in San Gabriel, California.

M says my grandmother told me that “If someone gives you shoes” you are supposed to “give them coins or pennies” in return. This is because it is meant to ward away bad luck that gifting shoes brings. I asked M why gifting shoes is bad luck. M responded that it symbolically means the equivalent of the gifter asking the person they are gifting shoes to to “go away, or walk out of your life.” So the coins are to make sure that they do not “go away”.

Further research led me to believe that this was a general belief/superstition held by Filipinos. This is an illustration of objects having symbolic meaning attached to them. For instance, instead of shoes, which would symbolize a drifting relationship, a better gift to give a Filipino would be a belt, to “tighten” the relationship.