Special Report

These Are 25 of the Strangest Food Superstitions

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If you’re a child who wants to travel, eat chicken wings
> Origin: Indonesia

Presumably because wings suggest flight (even though chickens don’t actually fly very much), Indonesian children are advised to eat plenty of them if they hope to make a trip abroad.

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Cut a cross into bread loaves before baking
> Origin: Ireland

A loaf of authentic Irish soda bread will likely have a cross cut into the top, to let the evil spirits out (or to prevent Satan from sitting on it) as the bread bakes. Like apples, bread is attached to many superstitions. The Scots say that it’s bad luck to cut into a loaf while another one is baking, for instance, and a hole in the middle of a loaf is thought to suggest a coffin, and thus death.

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Don’t take the last slice of bread
> Origin: Ireland

Whoever takes the last piece of bread on the table will lead a solitary life, some people say in Ireland. The superstition often specifies that if a woman is the culprit, she’ll never find a husband.

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Always try to take the last piece of food
> Origin: Thailand

An Irishman or -woman in Thailand might get a little confused, because in that Asian nation it’s considered good luck to take the last piece of food on a platter when you’re sharing a meal with others. Some say it means you’ll end up with a particularly good-looking mate.

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Toss rice at newlyweds for good luck
> Origin: Ancient Celtic lands

The pre-Christian Celts didn’t actually toss rice at weddings — it wasn’t widely available in Northern Europe until the latter 1700s — but they tossed other grains, like barley and millet, representing abundance and fertility. The tradition was later amended to rice in many parts of the world because it was more readily available. Wedding guests are sometimes advised not to throw rice because birds eat it off the ground and it swells in their stomachs and can kill them. The fact-checking site Snopes has dispelled this rumor as nonsense.