While the medieval days of bad-luck eggs and bread are long gone, this folklore—and its eerie undertone—remains.

By Roxanna Coldiron
September 11, 2020
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Kate Sears

Magic happens in the kitchen. And when people spend time cooking meals day after day, there were bound to be superstitious habits that developed over the years. Whether they originated from witchcraft, folklore, astrology, or even odd occurrences, people started to wholeheartedly believe in these ritualistic forces of cause and effect that seemed too good to simply be coincidental—that spilled salt was bad luck and, on the flip side, tossing it over your shoulder would mean luck regained.

After centuries of practice, these food-related tales of yore were carried down from generation to generation. And like all superstitions, they changed over time and eventually became part of kitchen folklore. See if you have heard of these food superstitions from around the world—about bad luck, particularly—the solutions for how to remedy your misfortune.

Loaves of Bread

Bread is enjoyed freshly baked from ovens around the world so it's not surprise that they gave rise to more than one superstition: The air bubbles in bread can trigger more than trypophobia. Small bubbles in your bread are normal but a large, gaping hole of a bubble is a portent of doom. According to superstition, the hole symbolizes a coffin and could mean that you'll lose someone close to you.

Eggs and Eggshells

Eggs and their shells are staples in most kitchens, and they can signal a good omen or a bad one; it simply depends on who you ask. To many, cracking open a double-yolk egg means good luck and even heralds a pregnancy in the family. According to British seafaring folklore, it's cautioned that you crush up your egg shells after eating a hard-boiled egg. If you don't, a witch could come and use it to fly to ships in order to sink them.

Garlic

Garlic can help to lower your blood pressure, so it's no wonder that people began to believe that it could also provide even more blood-related protection. Eat lots of garlic to keep the vampires away—at least that's the myth started by Bram Stoker, author of Dracula.

Salt

In need of good luck? Then make sure to throw some salt over your left shoulder with your right hand if you accidentally knock the salt shaker off the table; otherwise, spilling salt is a bad omen. This superstition has generally been traced back to the belief that Judas Iscariot stood behind an overturned salt cellar when he planned to betray Jesus. Throwing salt over your left shoulder counteracts devilish forces that might sneak up on you.

Coffee

Drinking your coffee every morning already projects a good day, but did you know that bubbles on the top of your coffee could mean that you're going to find sudden riches? Well, the bubbles need to be coming toward you. According to Finland folklore, the bubbles represent money flowing into your life; bubbles moving away from you mean that you're going to lose money.

Tea

Tea, which is commonly used in divination, has lots of superstitions. In France, you should never put milk in your tea before the sugar; otherwise, you may never get married. Seemingly contradictory, undissolved sugar at the bottom of your cup means someone is in love with you. Spilling your tea means a stranger is about to visit you. And let only one person pour the tea—it's bad luck if the task is shared.

Noodles

In China, long noodles symbolize a long life. If you've ever cut your noodles into smaller pieces before cooking and serving them, you have probably shortened your life span as well, according to Chinese superstition. Noodles are meant to be enjoyed at the length they are made.

Rice

Tossing rice at a newlywed couple supposedly brings them both good health, wealth, happiness, and prosperity. In China and Japan, sticking your chopsticks into a bowl of rice upright is an omen of death; this is because it too closely resembles incense, which is burned to honor the dead.

Grapes

In Spain on New Year's Eve, it's said that you should eat a dozen grapes one by one at the stroke of midnight to symbolize each month of the year. If the grape is sweet, that particular month will be a good one. If it's sour, it's going to be a bad month.

Birthday Cake

The tradition of having a cake with lit candles on your birthday began with the ancient Greeks. They baked moon-shaped honey cakes to celebrate the birth of moon goddess Artemis—but believed evil spirits were attracted by the revelry. By singing "happy birthday" and lighting candles, those spirits were chased away. Today, lots of people believe that blowing out all the candles on your cake will make a wish come true.

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