You’ve probably heard it said that an itchy left hand is a good sign. It’s a superstition in some cultures that left hand itching means money, or at least some other type of fortune of good luck, is coming your way.
You wonder, is it real? Should you interpret a left-hand itch as a sign that you should go ahead with a big purchase or investment—take a leap of faith—because money is coming to you?
Will blind faith in this and other money superstitions just sabotage your finances? Or is there a way to combine superstition with practicality to bring more money into your life?
We looked into this superstition and a few others related to money. Read on to see what we’ve found so that you can decide for yourself whether to believe or not.
Then check out how we put a practical spin on these beliefs to attract more money into your life.
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Lucky, itchy hands
In 2004, lottery player Marion Richardson, a 57-year-old woman in Britain, said that before she found out on TV about the results of the draw where she became the lone winner of the April 9, 2004 EuroMillions, her right hand was itchy sometime during the day. She thought the itch was due to the yarn she was using to knit.
Richardson remembered the itchy hand superstition when she won the EUR 25.5 million jackpot. She was Britain’s first EuroMillions jackpot winner.
In 2010, there was a lot of interest in the story of 73-year-old Mary Shammas from Brooklyn, NY, who got off the bus to buy a lottery ticket when she thrice felt a “terrible itch” on her left palm.
An avid lottery player who hadn’t won anything yet, she said that the itch made her remember the “old-fashioned superstition” and thought maybe it meant she was finally going to win something.
She was thinking maybe she’d win “$10 or something,” but at the Mega (Millions) lottery draw that night, Shammas won the $64 million jackpot.
In 2016, a woman from North Carolina, Denise McKenzie of Laurinburg, bought three $5 lottery tickets when her hand began itching. One of her tickets won her $100,000 before taxes.
On Aug. 12, 2016, Mary Wernicke from Saskatchewan, Canada won the $60million LottoMax jackpot. She said that she bought a $5 quick-pick lottery ticket because she remembered that an itchy hand means “money is coming your way.” Both of her hands were itchy that fateful day.
As you may have noticed, in the case of these lottery winners, it wasn’t always the case that the left hand was itchy before fortune came. And in the case of Wernicke, it was both her hands that itched.
What Does It Mean When Your Left Hand Itches?
In some cultures, left hand itching is a lucky omen. But in others, it’s quite the opposite.
A book on American folklore, Superstition and Education, by Fletcher Bascom Dresslar, published by Harvard University in 1907, documents this folk belief: “If the palm of your left hand itches, it is a sign of money.”
People in Russia and Ukraine supposedly share the superstition that an itchy left hand means money is coming to you.
In Serbia, there’s a popular gambling superstition that good luck comes with an itchy left hand. The opposite belief is held by folks in Bulgaria, particularly casino aficionados, who believe that itchy palms bring bad luck.
Among Hindus, left hand itching is supposedly lucky only if you’re a woman. It means some financial loss if you’re a man.
In the Caribbean, a left-hand itch is quite unlucky. An itchy left palm will mean you will owe money soon. An itchy right palm, on the other hand, means money is coming your way.
Clearly, there’s no standard view on the meaning of an itchy left hand or a right hand, for that matter. Which hand means money is relative to the culture of whom you ask.
Itchy Palm Superstitions: Where Did They Come From?
These superstitions go back a long way in the cultures of which they are part.
In India, particularly among the Hindus, itchy palms and good or bad luck are supposedly explained in the Shakun Shastra or Astrology of Omens, which has roots in the Vedic scriptures.
The Vedic scriptures are books that are sacred in Hinduism. The earliest of these scriptures date back to the Late Bronze Age, about 1700 BCE.
In Hinduism, the auspiciousness or inauspiciousness of itchy palms has to do with Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and fertility.
Generally, an itchy left palm means the grace of Lakshmi is leaving you and therefore you will either spend or lose money. That is if you’re a man. If you’re a woman, the itchy left palm is an omen of good fortune.
During the times of the Celtic and Anglo-Saxon tribes in Europe, people believed that rubbing one’s skin on silver was a cure for most diseases. Eventually, this turned into a superstition that an itch meant silver would come your way.
The belief was adopted and spread by the Romans, particularly fortune tellers.
Among Christians, there are two Bible verses that are pointed out as possible reasons why some people link an itchy hand to good or bad luck.
The first is a verse from the book of Isaiah which says: “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.” This is why some people believe that an itchy right hand means grace, or fortune, is coming.
The other verse is: “A wise man's heart is at his right hand; but a fool's heart at his left,” from Ecclesiastes 10:2. And this is why an itchy left hand is linked to misfortune.
Other Money Superstitions
Itchy palms are just one among several superstitions related to money. Other common ones are:
Don't put your purse on the floor
Bad financial luck will be brought upon any person who leaves their purse on the ground.
There’s also a Chinese proverb that goes “A purse on the floor is money out the door.”
Pick a penny
“Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck” is an old nursery rhyme.
The find is lucky, however, only when you find a penny heads up.
If you find a penny tails up, turn it over and leave it for someone else or you’ll have bad luck.
Belief in lucky pennies can be traced to ancient Roman times when people believed that metals were sent by the gods to protect humans they favored.
Money attracts money
A Chinese New Year belief is to deposit money in your bank account on the third or fourth day of the Lunar New Year. It’s a way to welcome good fortune.
In Greece, putting money in a purse before gifting it to someone is believed to ensure that the purse or wallet will always have money.
The southeast corner of your home is your “wealth corner”
The southeast corner of a room is considered the wealth corner, according to the principles of feng shui.
Put some wealth vases or Chinese coins on your wealth area. Keeping some money there is lucky too.
Do not paint or put anything red in the southeast corner of any room you occupy because if you do, it will be hard to bring in luck.
Don't sweep on New Year's Day
Sweeping and doing the laundry on Lunar New Year is bad luck because you’re sweeping away good luck and wealth.
But if you absolutely need to sweep the floor, do it in an outside-in motion to bring money in.
Wear jade rings
According to feng shui, wearing jade rings on the middle or little fingers will bring luck.
Women should wear jade rings on the right hand, while men should wear them on the left hand.
Say “Money, money” when you see a shooting star
Say it before the shooting star fades from view to attract money luck.
Spare a house spider
Never kill a spider you find in your home, or you will lose your good fortune and luck.
There’s also a 16th-century belief that finding a spider on your clothes will bring you money. If you find a spider in your pocket, you will always have money.
A New Spin on Superstitions: Some Practical Tips for
Believing in superstition has a lot to do with your culture and identity.
Just remember that when it comes to managing your finances, don’t rely solely on these folk beliefs.
You could try and put a practical spin on superstitions to bring money into your life. For example:
Pick a penny
The easiest way to start saving is to collect and save all your loose change daily. You can try doing this even if you’re living paycheck to paycheck.
Tally your coin or change haul at the end of every month and watch the amount grow.
If you have pennies lying around, know their value.
According to coin collectors, some old pennies are worth more than 1 cent. Among these are the following:
- the so-called “Indian Head” pennies that were minted between 1859 and 1909
- Lincoln “wheat pennies” made before 1959 (with two wheat stalks on the reverse)
- pennies with the Lincoln Memorial on the reverse side made between 1959 and 1982
- “silver” pennies minted in 1943 (they are actually made of steel and are worth 10 to 25 cents each).
Money attracts money
Include Savings in your regular budget and then, following the Chinese New Year belief, deposit your savings regularly on the lucky days of the Lunar New Year.
Your regular deposits will accumulate and earn interest. This can be the seed money for a future investment portfolio.
Money attracts money can also be taken to mean that if you invest in something to improve it and have a plan on how to use it, you will have a chance at a windfall in the future.
This applies to personal improvement as well. If you invest in your further education or training, you could move on to a better job or career.
The same thinking can apply to investing in real property, such as a house, that you may want to resell later.
When putting money into home improvements, it pays to know what home buyers want and check which improvements you can make before selling your home.
Building or improving on structural or design elements that are on-trend can increase a home’s resale value.
This year, for instance, research by the National Association of Home Builders shows that home buyers like outdoor amenities like patios and front porches, as well as energy-efficient lighting.
Don’t put your purse on the floor
Take care of your property so that it will have high resale value. This goes for purses, bags, cars, houses, etc.
Just for purses or bags, for example, there’s a thriving market for secondhand but well-cared-for designer bags.
If you own designer bags, there are online secondhand resellers like TheRealReal where you can sell your authenticated items and get as much as 85% of the sale price. It would pay to keep your nice bags off the floor where they could be damaged by dirt or grease.
The same degree of care also works for cars. Well-cared-for cars can sell for up to 20% higher at used car dealers than those of the same make but have not been well maintained.
Don’t kill a spider
An innovative idea or product can be likened to a spider that a lot of people fear because they are strange or non-mainstream.
If you have an idea for a product or business that is unique, it may scare even you—the originator—at first, because there’s nothing quite like it yet.
But if you really believe in your idea or product, develop it. Don’t let startup errors discourage you to the point of abandoning (killing) your “spider.”
E-readers, streaming media, and digital cash were once strange ideas too, but are things we can’t do without now.
What Itchy Palms Mean, Medically
Superstitions aside, there are medical explanations for itchy palms. Common skin problems, as well as rare medical conditions, can cause one’s palms to itch. Among these are:
- Allergic contact dermatitis
- Adverse reactions to medication
- Liver disease
- Nerve disorders
- Swimmer’s itch
Itchy skin can be usually remedied by using gentle cleansers and moisturizers and bathing with lukewarm, or with anti-itch lotions and corticosteroid creams. However, a consult with a medical professional may be necessary if the itchiness:
- persists for two weeks
- is severe and affects your routine or prevents you from sleeping
- comes on suddenly
- is accompanied by other symptoms like fever, weight loss, and night sweats.
Your Fortune Lies In Your Hands, Really
Money superstitions are an undeniable part of the culture.
You can view them as such, focusing on the goodwill and positivity that they can bring, especially in the context of family and friends.
However, take these beliefs with a grain of salt and do not rely solely on them to manage your finances.
Your financial well-being is truly in your hands—through prudent financial goal-setting and good budgeting practices—but not in whether they are itching.