Saturday, February 13, 2010

Find a Penny, Pick It Up...

I have always remembered the first time I heard the saying "find a penny, pick it up, all day long you'll have good luck!" It was when I was much younger, and my mother was the one who relayed the superstition to me. Ever since then, every time I find a penny heads up, I repeat the saying and carry the penny with me. If I see a penny face down, I do not even bother with it. The penny superstition has such a grip on me that I now associate the fights and/or good times I share with my boyfriend to whether I had seen a penny heads up or down recently. Thinking rationally, I really do not believe that one copper coin can have so much power as to determine whether my day will be good or bad, but my question is: where did this silly phrase come from? And why is it so compelling to believe?
I researched on a couple of websites and found some logical explanations for the "find a penny..." saying, along with some outrageous claims. The first website I discovered described the penny phenomenon as coming from an old religious belief that metal is a gift from God. Thus, finding a penny brings good fortune and protection against evil. The website also said, which is new to me, that if you give the penny to a friend, you are passing on the good luck to that person.
An article I found on had two possible explanations for the saying. Apparently, old Wiccan tradition was to use a pin in good luck spells. If a pin was found on the ground people thought, or maybe hoped, that it was from a spell and would bring the finder good luck. The saying was "see a pin and pick it up..." The resolution is that through the years the saying was misunderstood as "see a penny..." instead of "see a pin and..." The second illustration is another religious one. Since the penny has "In God We Trust" printed on it, believers think that finding a penny is God's message of saying the He is here, and in control, and not to worry, but to trust Him.
So far, we have seen pretty reasonable justifications, but I found one website that was completely ludicrous. The website is for asking the Penny Priestess questions about pennies. The "Penny Priestess" is a firm believer in the "Penny God," and according to her, all pennies found, whether they lie on heads or tails, is good luck. There are also claims made on this website that placing pennies around the corners of a room, or on top of a doorway, brings good fortune to the room or house.
I believe that the popularity of this superstition, as well as with others, comes from a person's desire to avoid what could possibly bring bad luck. Picking a penny up off of the ground does no harm, and if it could bring some good luck with it, why not? Besides, if you do something to possibly cause misfortune, every time some misfortune comes your way, it is easy to blame it on the tangible action instead of just the fact that good and bad things happen in life, no matter how many pennies you find, or how many cracks you avoid in the sidewalk, and so on.


  1. Even though I do not follow the penny superstiton, I do follow many others. My daily routine is filled with superstitions mainly due to my determination to avoid something bad occurring. For the most part, my days are smooth and badluck free, but if one bad thing happens, I will blame it on my lack of following the superstition. It sounds crazy and I can rationally tell myself that it is just a superstition, yet I cannot break the habit.

  2. I one hundred percent understand! Maybe if I wasn't so nuts about it, I would be able to listen to my radio on an odd number, and I would not have to kiss the ceiling of my car during a yellow light, or make a wish every time I look at the clock and it says 5:16. But, let's face it, no matter what bad things happen in our lives at least we have each other to throw orange peels at when it is the most untimely. =)

  3. Who was the first person to say this. I have always wondered where the old saying 'find a penny, pick it up, all day long you'll have good luck!' actually orginate from.

  4. Ryan, I do not know WHO actually started the saying, but I do believe the first explanation for lucky pennies started with the metal superstition stated above, and I believe it was during the Medieval times..?

  5. A friend of mine recently experienced a tragedy in her family. Her daughter's fiance committed suicide on New Year's Eve very unexpectedly. There was alcohol involved and he was behaving very uncharacteristically, it was a huge shock to everyone. Ever since then my friend has been finding pennies, both heads and tails up, practically falling from the sky. Shiny new pennies everywhere. Does anyone know of any superstition or connection that they have read or heard of?? I would appreciate any info if you have, thanks!