Many food and beverages that were valued had superstitions associated with them to deter the waste of such commodities. Like other superstitions, this shows a somewhat practical purpose for the superstition associated with the object. It would work to minimize any undesirable behavior, especially with children.
Spilt milk is also an example of a superstition that has contradictions. In many parts of Europe the spilling of milk was actually thought to be good luck as it provided food for the good fairies that scurried about on the ground. To pay homage to the fairies in this way would buy their protection against evil spirits or bad luck.
In most areas, however, the spilling of milk was considered bad luck as it wasted precious nourishment for the family. This superstition gained popularity with the rise of agriculture throughout the world and was accompanied by many other superstitions associated with cows and farming.
Milk and cow superstitions include:
- The first milk a new cow produced was put in a bronze bowl to make sure the cow continued to provide lots of milk.
- Hairs were pulled from the tail of a cow after it was sold, to make sure the cow remained a good milker.
- Stepping in a milk bucket or spilling milk would dry up your cows.
- Milk was sold with a pinch of salt added to it so that the cow that produced it would not be bewitched.