The Lucky Penny Superstition — Explained!

We'll take all the protection from evil we can get.

Picking Up Lucky Penny
Photo: Roy Hsu/Getty Images

Here you are, going about your day, when all of a sudden you spot a penny, heads-up, glimmering on the sidewalk. Do you pick it up? If you fall in camp yes ma'am you're in good company, but have you ever wondered how the lucky penny superstition originated?

Well, it's not as neat and shiny an explanation as that copper (erm, zinc) glimmer reflecting from the street. "According to one theory, people originally thought pennies would bring good luck because of religious beliefs. Folklore from ancient civilizations said metals—like copper—were gifts from gods intended to protect people from evil," writes Emily DiNuzzo for Reader's Digest.

"Another reason people might have claimed pennies would bring good luck comes down to the battle between good and evil, which is like two sides of the coin. Finding a penny heads up meant you'd have luck on your side, but tails up would mean the opposite, although the exact reasoning for this is unknown," the post continues, reminding us that superstitions often have vague origins despite their widespread adoption into people's lives. (Not that the author of this article avoids walking under ladders and fleeing the paths of black cats, or anything.)

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As Southerners, we're indeed a region who loves a good old wives' tales and faithfully follows superstitions. For instance, here's why we eat black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Years and bury a bottle of bourbon on our wedding day.

What's your favorite distinctly Southern superstition?

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