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The Penny Reel

Lucky Penny Day

May 23

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Today's Musings, History & Folklore

"See a penny, pick it up,
And all the day you'll have good luck."

~ Traditional

Penny for your thoughts? How about a lively reel for 3 couples in a 4 couple set? A "Penny Reel" was a dance for which one paid an admission charge! Even though penny candy is more expensive than it used to be, finding a penny (and picking it up) is a relatively new spin on an old superstition. Long ago, people believed that metal was a gift from the gods, given to man for protection against evil. The legacy of this belief can be still seen in the practice of hanging horseshoes over doorways, the wearing of charm bracelets, and the carrying good luck coins to act as "touch pieces," coins or metal tokens used as talismans to cure disease, bring good luck, or influence people's behaviour. Keep a weather eye out for the odd penny, especially "heads up" for the best of good fortune! 😀

The Penny Reel

"Find a penny, pick it up All the day you’ll have good luck See a penny, let it lay Bad luck will follow you all day" The original phrase was "see a pin and pick it up and all day long you'll have good luck." This was a reference to a pagan ritual in which a pin could be used in a good luck spell. The myth was that a dropped pin might have been used in such a spell and would provide good luck to the person who found it.

Today, on lucky penny day, keep an eye out for spare change.  It could bring you luck.


Variations on the following luck rhyme exist (including whether or not the penny is face down or face up), but the traditional rhyme is usually recited:

The word “penny” goes all the way back to Old English pening and has relatives in Germanic languages, such as German (Pfennig), Swedish (penning), and Icelandic (peningur). The original British penny was worth 1/240th of a pound sterling (now it is 1/100th of a pound). When the first United States one-cent coin was minted in 1793, people continued to use the British term to refer to it.

Interestingly, it is the 1933 penny that is the greatest British numismatic rarity of the 20th century – only seven coins were minted, specifically for the king to lay under the foundation stones of new buildings; one of these coins was stolen when a church in Leeds was demolished in the 1960s, and its whereabouts is currently unknown.   For more about the rare 1933 British penny, which would be a lucky find indeed, click its picture!

The Penny Reel

Click the dance cribs or description below to link to a printable version of the dance!

The Penny Reel

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