Earlier in the year, we examined some foods that are considered lucky, hoping to bring good fortune for 2016. On the flip side, there are also numerous foods considered unlucky around the world (in specific countries or just in general), and thus should be avoided.
Although the new year has already begun, today we hit our first unlucky milestone, the Ides of March (March 15), which is actually a related time of year. You see, although March is the third month on both the current Gregorian and preceding Julian calendars, the original Roman one had March (Martius) as the first, and thus the traditional superstitions about the new year lasted for about the initial two weeks of the month.
In honor (or respect, or maybe fear) of the Ides, here are five foods to avoid if you’re looking for good luck in March, for the year, or just in general. Then again, even if things turn sour fortune-wise, you probably still won’t have it as bad as Julius Caesar did back in 44 B.C.E. — unless your colleagues and friends also suddenly decide to assassinate and overthrow you. In which case, I’d be on the lookout for any seers or fortune tellers who warn you about March 15. Best to err on the side of caution, right?
It’s common knowledge that sailors and fisherman are generally quite superstitious (you would be too if you spent most of your life adrift in the middle of the ocean on a tiny vessel). The origins are uncertain — it may have involved a shipload of bacteria-filled bananas that allegedly killed an entire crew once, or simply anecdotal bad luck when one brings bananas onboard for meals — but the legend has somehow become widespread throughout time. Some fishing charters ban anything remotely close to bananas: banana muffins, Banana Republic clothing (for the fashionable fisherman), or Fruit of the Loom underwear (whose logo doesn’t even include a banana). With all this bad luck between the evil fruit and ships, it’s amazing that the Banana Boat brand hasn’t completely tanked.
When lobsters are confronted by predators, they use their weird spider legs and plump, delicious tails to propel themselves backward to escape. As the new year and luck in general is all about looking forward, lobsters are seen as an unlucky food item and something that represents regrets or dwelling in the past.
Parsley itself isn’t bad luck, but what you do with it could be. Parsley is not supposed to be brought from one home to another or one garden to another, as it typically does not transplant well, and attempting to do so is asking for misfortune. On the flip side, if parsley is planted and successfully grows, it is good luck for the gardener, especially if she is a pregnant woman. (Although in that case, she should probably take a load off, as it’s exhausting to garden for two.)
Similar to lobsters and their backward movement, superstitious people often avoid eating chicken or turkey, too, as those animals scratch backward while looking for food. This means anyone who consumes the animals will be looking behind them all year, or will be forced to search the dirt for their food or success — but will only end up with chicken scratch. Also, although not very good at flying, the fact that poultry can do it a little bit is still seen as a bad omen, as one doesn’t want their luck to fly away either.
Nobody likes sour grapes (the food or the attitude), but this is especially true in Spanish culture, where it is traditional for Spaniards to consume 12 grapes in the first 12 seconds of the new year. If the task is successfully completed, good luck will come to the consumer; if they fail, it is seen as a sign of bad luck. Although, even if the challenge is accomplished, any grapes consumed that were sour will represent a bad month, based on their respective order. For example, if the third grape is sour, March will be unlucky. (Beware the vines of March!) This superstition was allegedly created by Spanish vineyard owners in the early twentieth century, who now have good luck at the start of every year because of the tradition.