Symbol Sage Sale Banner

Salt Superstitions—Does It Bring Good Luck or Bad Luck to You?

Have you tried throwing salt over your left shoulder to reverse bad luck? Many have been doing this old tradition without knowing how it began and what it means. But this isn’t the only superstition about salt that exists. There are many!

Salt is one of the key ingredients in cooking and preservation of food. As an important ingredient, one that was equated to currency at one stage, salt has gained various superstitions over time, many of which continue circulating in different cultures.

Symbol Sage Sale Banner

Let’s learn more about those superstitions and find out their possible origins.

Reasons Why It’s a Bad Luck to Spill Salt

Judas spills the salt cellar – Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci.

Passed from generation to generation, superstitions of spilling salt have reached the present days. Of course, the only way to know their origin is to trace them back to ancient times, hundreds of years ago.

Prized and Valued Commodity in Ancient Times

Salt has been a prized treasure for many years, and economies stood strong with salt being their foundation. In ancient times, some civilizations used salt as a currency, like in the Roman Empire. In fact, the etymology of the word “salary” connects back to the word “sal”, which is the Latin word for salt.

People in the 1700s even had salt cellars to preserve salt. Aside from that, there was also a box called the “ancestral salt-box” that was taken out during dinnertime and was associated with stability and happiness within the family. As salt was likely to be considered equivalent to treasure at that time, spilling salt was probably not different to throwing away money.

Symbol Sage Quiz Banner

Association with Lies and Betrayal

Taking a good look at Leonardo da Vinci’s painting The Last Supper, you will notice that the salt cellar on the table has been knocked over by Judas Iscariot. As we all probably know, Judas betrayed Jesus, so people easily see that as a sign that salt is associated with lies, disloyalty, and betrayal. There is a little evidence that there was a spilled salt, but it didn’t stop the superstition from coming down today.

Salt to Counteract Bad Luck

While spilling salt is widely considered bad luck, intentionally putting or throwing salt away is believed to protect and fight evil spirits.

Throwing Salt Over Your Left Shoulder

This is probably the most popular “cure” when it comes to countering the effect of spilled salt. It is thought that spilling salt is the same as wasting money. So, some people have also started to believe that it is caused by the Devil.

To prevent the Devil from tricking you once again, the superstition says that you must throw salt over your left shoulder, where he resides. On the other hand, throwing salt over your right shoulder is said to harm your guardian angel, so be careful not to throw salt at the wrong side.

Adding Salt to Your Cinnamon Abundance Ritual

Salt is believed to purify and filter bad energy before entering your house. There’s a viral Tiktok ritual which includes blowing cinnamon powder at your front doorway to attract abundance into your home. It is suggested to add salt to the cinnamon as a protection for the blessings along your way. 

Using Salt as a Protection to Drive Away Evil

Some cultures use salt to ward off evil spirits before a performance or a competition. In Japan, throwing salt on stage before performing is an act of banishing evil spirits. Similarly, in Sumo wrestling, the athletes throw a handful of salt into the ring to get rid of invisible visitors that might cause trouble during the match.

Other Salt Superstitions Around the World

Salt superstitions around the world

As time goes by, salt superstitions dating back to ancient times are being passed to different generations and cultures. Because of this, different versions and interpretations have also been made out of old traditions that originated more than a hundred years ago.

Protection for Babies

Babies are considered vulnerable, especially at the time when they’re still not yet baptized. So as a precaution and protection before baptism, placing salt on the tongues of newborns was done by Medieval Roman Catholics. This tradition was then adapted and changed into putting a tiny bag of salt in the baby’s cradle and clothes as extra protection.

Never Come Back Again

If you have invited someone who only caused negative energy to enter your house, you definitely wouldn’t want them to come back. So, one thing you can do is throw a pinch of salt in the direction of that person while they’re still in your house, so they won’t come back again next time. But if you don’t have the guts to do it in their presence, you can do that when they have already left.

Once your unwanted visitor has left your house, immediately get some salt and sprinkle it in the room they entered before, including the steps and the floors. Then, sweep up the salt and burn it. It is believed that salt will attract the bad energy of that person and burning it will prevent a return visit.

Passing the Salt

The bad luck associated with the old sayings, “Pass the salt, pass the sorrow” and “Help me to salt, help me to sorrow,” greatly contributes to another salt superstition to look out for. While it is only a courtesy to pass something asked by someone on the table, passing salt is a no-no if you’re trying to avoid bad luck.

The next time you sit in for dinner and someone requests the salt, pick up the salt cellar and just put it on the table close to that person. Keep in mind not to give it directly to prevent bad luck.

New Home Sweet Home

sprinkling salt

During the 19th century in England, evil spirits were believed to be lurking everywhere, whether they chose to reside in the empty house or were left by previous owners. So, before moving in or placing furniture into the new home, the owners would throw a pinch of salt on the floors of every room to keep the house clear from those spirits.

Salt and Money

As salt was valued so much in ancient civilizations, it is not surprising that there’s also a salt superstition associated with money. Not having salt in your house is believed to be unlucky, so it is important to keep an extra stock of salt in your pantry.

There’s an old saying, “Short of salt, short of money.” If you’re a superstitious person, make sure not to run out of salt in your house, or else you’ll experience financial difficulty. Never let others borrow some salt from you because it is also considered bad luck. Just give salt to them as a gift, and you’ll both be fine.

Wrapping Up

Salt can bring you both good luck and bad luck, depending on how you’ll use it. While most salt superstitions already seem to be old-fashioned, it wouldn’t hurt to sprinkle some salt to drive away the evil. Just don’t throw too much, so you can have enough salt left for preventing bad luck on money.

Affiliate Disclosures

Dani Rhys
Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education, and has also studied Political Science, Ancient History and Literature. She has a wide range of interests ranging from ancient cultures and mythology to Harry Potter and gardening. She works as the chief editor of Symbol Sage but also takes the time to write on topics that interest her.