There are many superstitions attached to foods around the world. We’re rounded up nine fun superstitions from the four corners of the planet.

  1. Long noodles for long life: In Chinese culture, noodle length symbolizes the length of the eater’s life. Therefore, you should never cut noodles before serving them, or you will be symbolically cutting short the life of the person you serve them to. 
  2. Spilled salt is an evil omen: Have you ever seen someone throwing salt over their shoulder? They’re trying to avoid the bad luck that comes from spilling salt, best captured in the German proverb “Whoever spills salt arouses enmity.” A pinch of salt thrown over the left shoulder is believed to counteract the evil omen by landing in the face of the devil, sitting in his traditional place.
  3. Make a wish upon a wishbone:While twinkling stars might be much prettier to wish upon, the wishbone is a central part of traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey dinners in the United States. Two people each take an end of the wishbone and pull it apart. Whoever gets the biggest piece will have their wish granted.
  4. Garlic to ward off evil: You’ve probably heard that garlic is the ultimate vampire-repellant, but did you know that it is also believed to protect you from the evil eye? Whatever evils may haunt you, garlic is the traditional way to ward them off. 
  5. Tangerines and oranges for Chinese New Year: Tangerines are given as a gift at Chinese New Year to bring the receiver prosperity and oranges are given for good fortune. The reason for this is that the Chinese character for a tangerine is similar to that for gold and the symbol for an orange is similar to the symbol for good luck.
  6. Black-eyed beans for a prosperous year: In the United States, black-eyed beans, or peas, as they are known there, are the first food served on New Year’s Day. They symbolize luck and prosperity for the year ahead, with some people believing they represent coins, and even assigning them a specific value. Sometimes a coin is added to the pot before serving and the person who gets it will have the best luck in the new year.
  7. Christmas pudding for wishes and luck: Speaking of putting coins in food, it’s a well-known British tradition to put a silver sixpence in the Christmas pudding before baking. Though you might struggle to find a sixpence in this day and age, whoever finds the coin is blessed with good luck. There’s also another much-loved Christmas pudding superstition: Each family member takes a turn stirring the mixture and while doing so makes a wish.
  8. 12 grapes for 12 wishes: In Spain and Latin America, as the clock strikes 12 midnight on New Year’s Eve, you should eat a grape with each chime of the clock. You must eat all 12 grapes before the clock finishes chiming for all 12 wishes to come true!
  9. Birthday cake wishes: The tradition of burning candles on a birthday cake comes from the ancient Greek tradition of celebrating the birthday of Artemis, Goddess of the moon. The candles were placed on the cake to ward off the evil spirits attracted by the party. Today, blowing out all the candles with one breath means your wish will be granted.
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