Running Over Lemons


Driving over lemons with a newly purchased vehicle.

SB: We place a lemon under every tire of a vehicle we just bought, and then we drive it over so we crush all of the lemons, so it’s as if all the lemons are taking the brunt of the bad luck that the new vehicle might be running into in the future. It’s a preventive measure type of thing…because all the lemons have taken the bad luck, you’re not supposed to step onto a crushed lemon you see on the street because all that bad luck could transfer to you.


SB is uncertain about the tradition’s origins or what the exact context is. However, she mentions that in in Hinduism, “when you visit a temple, sometimes you break open a coconut, and I’m assuming it has some similar things in terms of destroying these fruits.” She connects breaking these fruits as physical acts of removing bad luck, and she iterates that her family does this whenever they get a new vehicle.


In situations where we feel like we don’t have control, we often try to assert authority through superstitious beliefs. While they may not be scientifically accepted, they can be held true by a community and naturally embed itself into familial tradition. Specifically, when we buy a new vehicle, there’s a lot we may not know: the ins and outs of how the car drives, what it’s like to drive the car amidst a bustling highway, and other factors that could influence our sense of security. When we drive, our lives are in the hands of everyone else on the road. These acts to ensure safe driving can remove the stress from a very anxiety-inducing activity for some people.

There are many driving rituals that exist to prevent bad luck or appreciate good luck, such as holding your breath when passing a graveyard or hitting the dashboard when narrowly escaping a yellow light. Despite laws and policies that attempt to keep our roads safe, institutions can’t really dictate belief. So much of this unofficial knowledge and these individual and communal rituals blossom from a desire to claim more direct control and exercise our personal beliefs. There is no law that tells us how to magically bring upon good luck, and there is no science supporting some of these rituals, but we believe in them anyway and engage in these practices to add an extra layer of security.