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Knife Gift Guide: Etiquette, Superstitions, and Best Choices

Written by:
Aleks Nemtcev
February 27, 2024
handmade knives

It so happened that since ancient times people have been subject to certain fears, which eventually developed into superstitions and spread to many generations. Although no one knows the reasons that gave rise to the belief that it is wrong to gift a knife, it is still possible to cancel the effect of the bad omen – by simply attaching a coin to your knife gift.

gift knifeIs it OK to give knives as a gift?

Gifting a knife goes beyond giving a mere object; it’s a symbol rich in cultural significance and diverse interpretations. It’s crucial to consider these varied meanings and the recipient’s ability to responsibly handle such a gift. A knife as a gift is unconventional, steeped in tradition, respect, and trust, making the act of giving or receiving a knife a deeply thoughtful experience.

Can we gift a knife?

A knife is a memorable and useful gift. Moreover, it has a symbolic value, showing your appreciation for the recipient. Knives have been seen as powerful items for centuries – either as weapons or as valuables. Historically, owning a knife meant an important title or a certain power over others (for example, that of a government official or the head of the family). Knives meant power and respect.
Nowadays, there is a huge variety of quality knives in the market: kitchen knives, folders, survival knives, hunting knives, high-end chef knives, or even collectible lavishly adorned art knives. A knife can be engraved, intricately tooled, or garnished with lettering or scrimshaw, to make it a very special, personalized gift. A quality knife will make a great present for a wide range of people: outdoorsmen, culinary enthusiasts, hunters, survivalists, or keen collectors of vintage souvenirs. A stylish knife can be presented for several occasions: birthdays, anniversaries, job promotions, hunting tours, or meetings with a prominent person.

gift knives

Why is a handmade knife a great gift?

While maybe not the best gift option for your girlfriend, a quality handmade knife will for sure impress your dad, grandfather, or any lover of exquisite artifacts. The knife has been a symbol of power and manliness historically and still has the savor of nobleness and valor for many.
Custom knives are produced one at a time or in limited batches by seasoned bladesmiths who invest superior craftsmanship and utmost care in their handicrafts. When buying a handmade knife from a reputable manufacturer, you can be sure you get the highest standard of quality. Professional knifemakers thoroughly weigh all factors involved in building a handmade knife – design details, type of steel, heat treating, geometry, balance, and ornamentation. Such delicate attention to detail is quite rare in today’s mass-production world.

best knives for giftQuality handmade knives, apart from being showy artifacts, are useful cutting tools and feature superior service properties. High-quality alloys (such as various types of carbon steel) and intricate techniques (such as pattern-welded Damascus) impart excellent qualities to a knife that is hand-crafted – these cutting tools are known to feature top-notch strength, durability, and edge retention. Remember, the words “handmade” or “custom” do not mean a knife is a museum exhibit or brittle. Handmade gift knives are way tougher and more durable than mass-produced knives. They are infallible in performing their routine tasks of cutting various materials, no matter how exquisite, ornate, or bizarre they may be.
A memorable gift is one worth remembering. You can show someone that they are respected and cared for by getting them an original handmade blade.

knife for gift

What is the etiquette for giving a Swiss Army knife as a gift?

When gifting a Swiss Army knife, the etiquette is straightforward and thoughtful. First, consider the recipient’s interests and needs to choose a model that suits them best, whether they’re into camping, DIY projects, or everyday tasks. Including a small note explaining why you chose it for them can add a personal touch.

What is the superstition about giving knives as a gift?

The superstition around giving knives as a gift suggests that such a gift can sever the relationship between the giver and the recipient. To counteract this negative implication, it’s customary to attach a coin to the knife, allowing the recipient to “give back” the coin as a symbolic purchase. This act is believed to prevent the cutting of the bond between the two parties, turning the knife into a purchase rather than a gift and thus negating any bad luck.

Still, many people claim that superstitions only impact those who believe them. If you have a logical mindset, you will not believe in myths. Many deem that knives can and must be gifted, as it is a gift desired by many men.

knives superstitions

Worldwide traditions

Knife gifting boasts a rich tapestry of history and cultural significance, embedded in traditions spanning the globe. Historically, knives served as essential tools for survival, encompassing hunting, cooking, and protection. Their fundamental utility elevated them to symbols of trust, respect, and friendship. In many cultures, presenting a knife as a gift traditionally signified the transfer of responsibility and trust from one individual to another. For instance, in some European cultures, knives represented strength and bravery, often gifted to young men as a rite of passage.

The cultural significance of knives extends to their role as talismans and symbols. In various societies, knives symbolize cutting ties with the past, protection against evil spirits, or the start of a new journey. For many Native American tribes, knives hold spiritual significance and feature prominently in ceremonial gifts. Similarly, in Eastern cultures, knives often symbolize good fortune and are sometimes exchanged during weddings to ensure a prosperous marriage.

The custom of exchanging a coin for a gifted knife traces its roots back to old England, where it was believed that giving a coin would avert any potential misfortune associated with receiving a sharp object.
Central Asian countries regard knives as valuable and prestigious gifts, believed to possess the power to protect and ward off illness and misfortune. For instance, placing a knife under a baby’s pillow was a traditional practice to safeguard the child’s health. The knife also plays a crucial role in various cultural rites, such as ceremonies recognizing a transition into adulthood. In some cultures, knives are lifelong companions, starting from when they are placed in a baby’s cradle as protective talismans.

In Finland, a unique courtship tradition involves a young man placing his knife in his intended sheath; if the woman keeps the knife, it symbolizes her acceptance of the marriage proposal.

knife traditions

Japanese manners

In the land of the rising sun, it is believed that any knives and even scissors bring good luck and scare away evil spirits.
The Japanese also believe that gifting a knife means protecting the recipient from harm. Since ancient times, it has been customary to gift any cutting object when a person reaches the so-called unhappy age. According to the Japanese calculation, it occurs in women at 19, 33 and 37, and in men – at 25, 42, and 61 years. This age is called “Yakudosi”. And even though the Japanese are not so superstitious now, the tradition of gifting a knife when reaching the “Yakudosi” is being preserved today.
However, in Japan, a country that is associated with swords and knives, there are superstitions about gifting knives. Some argue that any sharp gift can cut a friendly or business relationship. To avert bad consequences, the Japanese, like medieval Englishmen, disguise a gift with a conditional purchase for a coin of any denomination. The standard of decency is considered to have been observed when a coin is placed in a gift box, which the recipient must return as a symbolic payment. The knife has always been and remains the only tool that has practically not changed throughout its entire history, and most importantly, it has not yet lost its meaning and purpose. And if you think that a person will appreciate your present, gift a knife boldly. Well, if he is superstitious, just take a coin from him. And even better, as polite Japanese do, put your coin in the gift box, which will come back to you later.

gift knife

US tradition of gifting knives

In the United States, the tradition of gifting knives is less formal but no less significant. Knives are popular gifts among outdoors enthusiasts, chefs, and collectors, with the type and quality of the knife reflecting the giver’s regard for the recipient’s expertise and interests. Commemorative knives, often engraved with dates or messages, are also common gifts for milestones like retirements, graduations, or significant achievements.

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Legal Aspects of Knife Gifting

The legal landscape surrounding knife gifting is intricate, varying significantly across regions and jurisdictions. Laws and regulations typically govern the type of knives that are legal to own, carry, and consequently, gift. These laws may include restrictions based on knife characteristics such as blade length, locking mechanisms, and the method of opening. Additionally, international and state borders can dramatically change the legality of certain types of knives. Understanding these laws is crucial for anyone considering gifting a knife to ensure that the gift is not only thoughtful but also legal. This section provides a comprehensive overview of the various knife laws and regulations that could affect the gifting of knives, emphasizing the importance of legal compliance in the practice of knife gifting.

Age and Type Restrictions to Consider

Age and type restrictions are critical components of knife laws that directly impact the act of gifting knives. Most jurisdictions have specific age requirements for the ownership and carrying of knives, which must be considered when gifting to younger individuals. Furthermore, the type of knife being gifted is subject to scrutiny under the law. Certain types of knives, such as switchblades, butterfly knives, or gravity knives, may be heavily regulated or outright banned in some areas. The giver must be cognizant of these restrictions to avoid inadvertently gifting a knife that the recipient is not legally allowed to possess.

gifting knives

Presentation and Packaging Tips

When presenting a knife as a gift, thoughtful packaging and presentation significantly enhance the perceived value and the recipient’s experience. Opt for materials that reflect the quality of the knife, such as wooden boxes,  leather sheaths, or custom-fitted cases. Incorporate elements that resonate with the knife’s purpose or the recipient’s style. Consider including a card detailing the knife’s specifications, origin, and maintenance tips. Effective presentation not only safeguards the knife during transit but also transforms it into a memorable and impressive gift.

Occasions and Recipients for Knife Gifting

Knife gifting suits a variety of occasions, particularly those marking significant milestones or celebrating hobbies and professions. Suitable events include weddings, anniversaries, retirements, and promotions, especially for recipients with an interest in cooking, outdoor activities, or collectibles. Understanding the recipient’s specific needs and interests is crucial; a chef might appreciate a high-quality chef’s knife, while an outdoorsman might prefer a durable survival knife. Tailoring the knife to the recipient’s lifestyle ensures the gift is both meaningful and useful, reflecting thoughtfulness and a deep understanding of their passions and needs.


Q: What occasions are suitable for gifting a knife?

A: Knives can be gifted on various occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, housewarmings, or to celebrate milestones. They’re particularly appreciated by culinary enthusiasts, campers, or collectors.

Q: How should I present a knife as a gift?

A: It’s recommended to package the knife securely and attractively. Including a personal note or explaining the significance can make it more special.

Q: Is it okay to gift a knife as a birthday present?

Gifting a knife as a birthday present is generally acceptable and can be a thoughtful gesture, especially for someone who appreciates cooking, outdoor activities, or collects knives. However, it’s important to consider the recipient’s interest in knives and any cultural or personal beliefs associated with receiving a knife as a gift. Always ensure that the gift is appropriate and meaningful to the person receiving it.

Q: Are there legal restrictions on gifting knives?

A: In some regions, there might be age restrictions or regulations on the types of knives that can be purchased and gifted. Always check local laws before making a purchase.

Q: How do I choose the right knife as a gift?

A: Consider the recipient’s needs and preferences. For chefs or culinary enthusiasts, a quality kitchen knife might be ideal. Outdoor enthusiasts might appreciate a multi-tool or a camping knife. Always prioritize quality and safety.

Q: Is it okay to give a knife as a corporate gift?

A: Yes, if it aligns with the recipient’s interests and the corporate culture. A finely crafted pocket knife or a desk knife can serve as a sophisticated and functional corporate gift.

Q: Can I add personal touches when gifting a knife?

A: Absolutely! Engravings, custom handles, or even unique sheaths can add a personal touch to your gift, making it even more memorable.
Remember, the key to gifting is thoughtfulness. Understanding the recipient’s needs, beliefs, and preferences will guide you in deciding whether a knife is a perfect gift for the occasion.


Gifting a knife, with its deep-seated cultural nuances and age-old superstitions, remains a topic of intrigue and contemplation. While knives undeniably serve as a symbol of utility, trust, and sometimes heritage, understanding the recipient’s background and beliefs is pivotal. To some, it’s a cherished token of shared memories, while to others, it may carry unintended connotations. In the age of global communication and understanding, it’s essential to weigh the beauty, functionality, and craftsmanship of the knife against the symbolic interpretations it might carry. Remember, the best gifts are those that resonate with the receiver’s heart and needs. So, if you’re confident that a knife aligns with these parameters for your loved one, it can indeed be a meaningful and timeless gift. For the best impact, consider accompanying your gift with a note or explanation, ensuring it’s received in the spirit you intend.

You can choose and buy a fine Knife Gift here.

Especially for you, we have selected videos on the subject of this article!

Video credit: Gear Junkie

Video credit: Neeves Knives.

Author: Aleks Nemtcev | Connect with me on LinkedIn


Knife | Definition, History, & Facts | Britannica.

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  • José Roberto Bergamo

    Quite enlightening information. Congratulations!

  • Jordan P.

    I’ve always believed that a knife, when given with good intentions, can be a symbol of trust and shared experiences, especially for those who appreciate its craftsmanship and utility. Still, the cultural nuances surrounding gifting a knife are intriguing. Thanks for shedding light on this topic. I’ll definitely keep these considerations in mind the next time I think of gifting one.

    Best, Jordan Price

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