10 Sep 2020 • 4mins • Fonk

Fact or fiction? 7 superstitions about money and the stories behind them

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Here at Yolt we encourage you to unthink money – and all the stresses, taboos, and superstitions that come with it, too. In some parts of the world, simply talking about money conjures a set of superstitions. In fact, it might come as a surprise just how many money fallacies have been woven into our social fabric over the centuries. So, we decided to take a look at hundreds of money superstitions from around the world and uncover the stories (whether fact or fiction) behind some of the most well-known!

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1. Find a penny, pick it up. All day long you’ll have good luck

Most of us have done it at least once in our lives – spot a shiny coin on the ground and scoop it up for a bit of good fortune. The origins of this every-day superstition likely go back thousands of years to pagan times, when metal, specifically iron, was thought to protect you from evil spirits. Of course, various metals eventually became the primary elements for creating currency, and who can deny a sense of good fortune when you find free money – even today?

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2. A purse on the floor is money out the door

This money superstition exists in some form or another across the globe, most notably as an ancient proverb in China. In many cultures, the ground is symbolically associated with lowliness, and, so, to put your purse on the floor shows a lack of respect for your money. Essentially, this superstition boils down to: If you want to keep your money, respect it. On another note, your handbag is probably a lot easier to steal when it’s on the floor, so this ancient superstition might be one to adopt in the 21st-century, after all.

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3. Toss a coin in a fountain and your wish will come true

If you’ve ever visited the Trevi Fountain in Rome, there’s a good chance you’ve participated in this superstition at least once in your life. This one also has its roots in ancient times. Not only was metal considered protective against evil forces, but also a good way to gain the favour of the gods. Back in the days before water treatment plants, people would toss bits of metal into wells, fountains or ponds, hoping the gods would bless the water. And by bless the water, we mean make it drinkable. An ancient well near Hadrian’s Wall was found to contain nearly 13,500 coins dating back to 30BCE – all gifted to the pagan god of wells of springs.

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4. You need coins to reach the afterlife

This one isn’t so much superstition as ancient tradition. Burying the dead with coins or precious metals has roots in many cultures across Europe. The most famous, Charon’s Obol, was the ancient Greek and Roman tradition of placing a coin in the mouth of the dead. It was believed the deceased would give the coin as payment to Charon, the boatman who ferried the dead to the afterlife.

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5. Bird droppings on your head means you’re headed for wealth

Like some of the aforementioned superstitions, this one pops up in many cultures: If a bird does one on your head (or your house or car), money is on the way. The cross-cultural connection? Likely that whatever the country, culture, or customs, people are telling you it’s good luck to make you feel better.

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6. A spider in your pocket or purse will make you rich

Though spiders may be one of the world’s most common phobias, they’re actually a recurring symbol of wealth and prosperity around the globe. One superstition says that if a spider crawls into your pocket, you’ll be blessed with everlasting wealth. Another urges that if you catch a spider weaving a web, put it in your purse and it will fill with riches. Like many money superstitions, this one also has ancient ties to cultural and spiritual beliefs. Because spiders weave webs and catch their prey, they have been associated with the power to create their own prosperity. Just don’t be surprised if a spider in your pocket generates more flies than cash!

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7. Talking about money is bad luck

In some parts of the world, the taboo around discussing money matters is so strong, it’s actually considered bad luck. The roots around this taboo go deep, but if there’s one superstition we hope you’ll leave behind this Friday the 13th, it’s this one! At a time when money tips the scales as the number one stress affecting Brits, we think there’s no better time to unthink this old money superstition and start talking!