A Question of Context and Perception
The answer to this question lies in how much you and the newlyweds accept the principles of superstition and folklore. If you were all willing to shrug it off without a second thought (as many would be happy to do), then a beautiful set of quality knives would make a great addition to their future kitchen.
An easy way to test the waters on this is to check the couple’s gift registry. If you selected this item from their list, you can feel secure in the idea that they won’t get the “willies” as a result. If you see that they registered for other kitchen items but neglected to request any knives, that may be a telling fact.
Knives, scissors and all other types of utensils that are used for cutting things are not traditionally considered a good gift idea. Basically the idea of cutting or slicing things is does not promote good luck, or good karma. In fact, to the Chinese or in Latin America the gift of a knife as a gift would be interpreted as “cutting off a friendship (or relationship).”
An extension to this idea is the use of cutting tools when opening gifts. So take care not to tie or wrap the gifts in such a way that cutting tools will be required.
What to do if you get a knife as a gift
The tables are turned. It’s your wedding. You’re opening your gifts and you notice that someone has given you a set of knives.
Let’s assume that you’re positive the gift-giver didn’t mean anything negative by giving you the knife as a gift, but you’re still feeling uneasy about the whole deal. On one hand, you may need a great knife set, but on the other hand who wants bad luck from their wedding day? Legend has it that you can help reverse any bad luck from receiving this gift by giving the gift giver a penny (at least) for the knife. This, in effect, makes the gift a purchase!
If you do find yourself feeling uneasy about receiving a knife as a gift, know that you’re not alone. These thoughts are shared among cultures and religions around the world. Many different cultures opt for the “payment option” if a gift is considered inappropriate or bad luck!
Something as simple as cutlery has developed quite a myriad of folklore surrounding it. Here’s a small sampling of what knives traditionally mean for their owners:
- A knife as a gift from a lover means that the love will soon end.
- A knife placed under the bed during childbirth will ease the pain of labor.
- If a friend gives you a knife, you should give him a coin, or your friendship will soon be broken.
- It will cause a quarrel if knives are crossed at the table.
- It is bad luck to close a pocketknife unless you were the one who opened it.
- Unless they are immediately straightened, crossed knives on a countertop or table indicate that an argument will ensue.
- In previous centuries a knife was a very personal possession, carried at all times by its owner and used for hunting and work as well as cutting food.
- A steel knife was regarded as being protection against fairies and curses.
- A house could be protected by a knife being thrust into the door.
- A baby protected by a knife stuck into the headboard of its cradle (certainly not a recommended practice now!)
- A knife could also be thrust into the mast of a boat for luck, although the word ‘knife’ was never spoken at sea.
- A knife falling to the ground means the arrival of a male visitor.
- A knife with a white handle could be used to divine whether the enquirer’s future spouse would be fair or dark. The knife was spun round, and if it came to rest with the handle pointing towards the enquirer, the spouse would be fair; if the blade pointed at them, the spouse would be dark.