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The Gift of a Knife

Question: Can you tell me what the folklore or tradition is when you give a gift such as a knife? When you give a purse as a gift, you put a penny in it. I have heard that there also is a tradition of including something else when you give a knife as a gift. Have you heard of this?

Answer: In cultures ranging from Latin America to Asia, giving a knife symbolizes severing a relationship. You give a knife to indicate that you are no longer friends. Among the Bavarian peasants, when a friendship is severed by the gift of a knife or pair of scissors, the untoward result may be averted if the recipient smiles pleasantly when the gift is made.

Since it is considered bad luck to give a gift of a knife, money is usually included for the recipient to "buy" the knife. The traditional amount to include with the knife (at least in the USA) is a penny.


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