You're probably thinking that getting that favorite person in your life a new chef's knife or knife set would be an excellent gift. And you're right; it really would be. But did you know there's an air of mystery and tradition surrounding the practice?
The Gift of a Knife, Paid For by a Coin
For many centuries, people believed that if you gift a person a knife, you're placing a bad omen on the relationship. It means you're severing ties or feel the relationship would not last. It can be an even more devastating act of symbolism when the knife is gifted for a marriage or to your own significant other.
It's the equivalent of you saying divorce is imminent! And, of course, that's not the kind of message anyone wants to send to a newlywed couple. You wouldn't want to tell your partner that our relationship is over with the gift of a knife. Naturally, they couldn't allow this problem to stand.
The solution? To gift a coin with the knife. When the recipient received their gift, they would take the coin and give it back to the gifter. In this way, they'd made the exchange transactional, which was no longer a symbol of severing ties. A convenient loophole to trick the system.
Does the Tradition Carry On?
It does! Despite being many centuries old and most people no longer necessarily believing in it, the tradition of giving a coin with a gift lives on, even if now it's more nostalgia than anything else.
You can include your own coin in the box, but if that doesn't suit you, some companies have included it themselves. Parker River Knife, and Masakage, are two makers that will send along a coin with the gift of a new knife.
Of course, you don't need to include a coin in this day and age. But with a tradition this old, it would be a shame not to include it! And in the end, not only will you have the gift to talk about, but the story behind the coin.