The world's most curious money rituals
Explore the fascinating world of money-related superstitions, where fish scales, itchy palms, and origami frogs hold the keys to your fortune.
5 min read
We all know money doesn’t grow on trees — unless you hammer a coin into a tree trunk for good luck? Around the world, there are countless superstitions and rituals for attracting wealth and prosperity. While many of these customs are culturally specific, the desire for financial well-being clearly transcends international borders. From sweeping the floor to carrying origami frogs, people from all corners of the world turn to quirky and curious ways of inviting good fortune into their lives.
The curse of an empty purse (Greece)
According to Greeks, you should always keep a few coins in your wallet to make sure it’s never empty. The logic here is simple: Money attracts money. This superstition has spread worldwide and also extends to bank accounts, as many Greeks believe that letting your bank balance fall to zero can bring bad luck.
Sweeping the floor at night (the Philippines)
In the Philippines, many elders caution against sweeping the floor at night. Otherwise — or so the widespread belief goes — you risk bringing bad fortune and potentially damaging your financial prospects. Another Filipino tradition involves scattering coins around the living room of a new house during a housewarming party. Throwing pennies into each corner of the room symbolizes money entering the home and is believed to attract riches and success to the new tenants.
Hammering coins into trees (the UK)
If you visit the countryside in certain regions of the UK, you might spot old “wishing” trees with various coins hammered into their bark. This tradition has its origins in the 18th century and was thought to cure illness. The idea was to transfer a disease from a loved one onto the tree. Nowadays, many simply assume that nailing a coin to one of these trees brings good luck and prosperity.
Origami frogs (Japan)
In Japanese superstition, a piece of paper folded into the shape of an origami frog promises luck and wealth. The word for frog in Japanese, "kaeru," is linked to the verb "kaeru," meaning "to return." Carrying an origami frog in your wallet is believed to bring money and good fortune back to you.
Itchy palms (Turkey)
According to Turkish superstition, an itchy right palm is a sign of incoming money, while an itchy left palm means that financial loss is ahead.
The tooth fairy (Europe and beyond)
In many European countries, young children hear about the tooth fairy as soon as they get their first wiggly tooth. According to folklore, if a child places a lost tooth under their pillow, the tooth fairy pays a visit later that night and exchanges the tooth for a coin. Children typically lose around 20 baby teeth, so this tradition can be quite lucrative for diligent young savers!
Pork sausage and lentils (Italy)
In Italy, a popular superstition says that eating "Cotechino con lenticchie" — pork sausage served over lentils — on New Year's Eve will bring good fortune for the upcoming year. With their coin-like shape and color, the lentils symbolize wealth and prosperity, while the pork represents abundance, thanks to its high fat content.
The feng shui of houseplants (China)
In the Chinese practice of feng shui, the strategic placement of houseplants in the home can enhance the flow of positive energy and attract prosperity and wealth. Some believe that plants with rounded leaves symbolize abundance and financial well-being. For example, rubber plants and jade plants are particularly associated with attracting money and good fortune.
The money tree (pachira aquatica) and lucky bamboo (dracaena sanderiana) are also thought to bring luck in numbers. The more stalks a lucky bamboo has, the greater the blessings it is believed to attract. Similarly, a money tree with three or five braided plants is thought to bring good luck. However, the number four is considered unlucky in feng shui, so it’s best to avoid a money tree with four braided plants.
Carrying fish scales (the Czech Republic)
In the Czech Republic, there is a belief that carrying fish scales in your wallet or keeping them close throughout the year can bring financial success. Fish scales are seen as symbols of wealth and money because they look like shiny silver coins.
Avoid leg shaking (Korea)
In Korea, there’s a belief that shaking your legs can cause luck and wealth to vanish. So, those who tend to fidget or shake their legs are reminded to stay still so that they don’t shake away their fortune!
Doing the money dance (Poland, Ukraine, and Greece)
Believed to have originated in Poland at the turn of the 20th century, the money dance is a fun tradition observed at weddings and celebrations in various European cultures. It typically starts after a few drinks — the best man or the DJ announces the start of the dance, and the guests pin money onto the bride's dress.
The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (Ireland)
According to old Irish myth, mischievous leprechauns are said to stash their treasure at the end of the rainbow. But the leprechauns win this one — the impossibility of ever reaching the end of the rainbow means that their pots of gold stay safe from falling into human hands.
Never whistle inside (Russia and the Baltic states)
There’s a widespread belief in Russia and the Baltic states that whistling inside the house can bring financial loss and bad luck. But this doesn’t only apply to your own house — whistling in another person’s home can bring bad financial fortune to them, too. According to superstition, whistling is the language of evil, so by whistling inside, you may inadvertently invite evil spirits into the home. But whistling anywhere else is fine — you can summon the forces of evil outdoors as much as you like!
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