8 classic money superstitions and their origins

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There are many weird and wonderful superstitions about money across the world. But have you ever thought about why you throw money in a fountain or put a 5p in your Christmas pud?

It's all a bit of harmless fun, of course. But some of these traditions go back centuries and have their own fascinating histories. So here's eight you might not know about.

Tossing money into a fountain

This is an absolute classic, but when you actually think about it what a bizarre thing to do. We're literally throwing money away! So why do we do it?

Throwing money into bodies of water is a tradition that stretches back a long way. Centuries ago in Europe, having clean water was seen as a gift from the gods. So people left money as offerings to keep the water flowing. Over the years this turned into the idea of a wishing well, as people brought offerings with new requests. Nowadays we throw money into fountains to make a wish or to bring good luck!

Sixpence in the Christmas Pudding

We've all been there, you're chewing on your Christmas pud and all of a sudden you think you've cracked a tooth! Thankfully it's just the 5p that Nan popped in the mixture. And it's meant to be good luck.

There are records of this tradition going back to the 1300s. Legend says that it comes from the 'Twelfth Night Cake' - which was eaten to mark the end of Christmas celebrations. Originally a dried pea or bean was popped into the mixture and whoever got it was 'king or queen' for the night! The bean then became a silver ring or a small crown which then became a silver coin. The Royal Mint still make special 'Christmas Silver Sixpence' coins every year which you can use in puddings!

"Find a penny pick it up, all day long you'll have good luck!"

Everyone knows the rhyme, but where did it come from? This rhyme may stem from ancient times when metals were believed to offer protection from evil spirits.

As metals began to be used as currency, the connotations of coins and metals changed to wealth, prosperity, and fortune! And even if it's all just magical thinking, hey, at least you've got a penny!

Itchy palms mean you're coming into money

This one is a little bit more specific with each hand meaning something different. If your left hand is itching, great news, you're about to come into some good fortune (usually money 🤑). If it's your right hand, then you may be about to lose some money, coming at a time when new expenses appear, or your bills are due.

This is from the ancient saying 'left to receive, right to give'. The origins of this superstition can be traced back to the Saxons & Celts. It was believed that rubbing silver onto your skin was a cure for diseases, so they started to rub their itchy palms on silver. This eventually turned into the belief that itchy palms meant money was coming your way.

A spider in your pocket? Don't panic, you're going to be rich!

Many people run in the opposite direction when they see a spider, but if you can coax it into your pocket, it may be in your favour. It's commonly believed that this will bring money to your life.

This comes, quite simply, from Money Spiders who would be said to weave wealth into your pockets - wouldn't that be nice!

Hammering money into trees

You might have been on a country walk and seen a tree trunk with loads of coins hammered into it. This is more commonly known as a 'wishing tree', and they date back to the 18th century! It was believed that you could rid yourself of disease by hammering a coin into a tree so that the tree would take on the illness and if someone pulled that coin out, they would contract the illness.

Nowadays it's done more as a wish, much like throwing money into a fountain. We don't recommend giving it a go yourself, and it certainly doesn't sound like good luck for the poor tree.

"Purse on the floor, money out the door!"

Some people believe if you put your purse or wallet on the floor, you're going to experience some financial difficulties soon. This can be traced back to ancient China, and it's all about Feng Shui.

Feng Shui is the idea of harmonising individuals with their surrounding environments, and the ground symbolises lowliness. So if you put your money on the floor, it shows a lack of respect for it meaning it could be off pretty soon!

"Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue...

...and a silver sixpence in her shoe". Everyone knows the classic tradition of the first three, but since the 1500s it's been traditional for a bride to have a sixpence popped into her shoe. This would be done by the father of the bride just before she walked down the aisle. It's believed that this will bring good luck and prosperity into the marriage. Nowadays you can buy shoes with the sixpence or silver coin already in them!

So next time you've got itchy palms or a spider in your pocket you know what to do! Watch the good fortune roll in!