Luck, fate, magic – whichever way you want to spin it, superstitions are a practice many of us find ourselves falling victim to and our soldiers are no different.  Let’s explore some of the quirky military superstitions and traditions that you probably haven’t heard of. 


Charms are a square-shaped assorted hard candy. Seems innocent enough, right? Apparently not. These fruity treats are one sweet that our Marines make sure to avoid at all costs. It’s a long-standing belief that the candy is a vessel of bad luck.  

Since the 1990s, Marines began to attribute unfortunate happenings to the consumption of the candy which was often included in their MREs. Soldiers started to opt not to eat the so-called (un)lucky charms to avoid any misfortune until it became taboo to just carry the candy. The superstition got so bad that eventually the DOD Combat Feeding Directorate decided in 2007 to remove them from the MREs. 

Coffee Mug 

For sailors, a dirty coffee mug is seemingly protocol. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s common practice for sailors, particularly Naval Chiefs, to reuse their coffee mugs without ever washing it. Some simply enjoy the added flavor from the ancient coffee residue or perceive the aged stains as a symbol of seniority and others believe it to be bad luck to clean the mug. Either way, the dirtier the mug, the better. 


Similar to Charms, apricots were once an MRE staple. That’s until soldiers began to notice during World War II that whenever a can of apricots were present their tank would break down. They soon became the source of some sort of jinx or bad luck superstition. As a result, the fruit was rejected and even today tankers steer away from apricots as much as possible. 


 The weather is a key component to the missions of soldiers. For this reason, weather superstitions are taken very seriously. Rain is not a condition that they want to work in, so much so that uttering the word is believed to be bad luck. The weather is unpredictable so making sure to not apply any jinx to the matter helps provide some peace of mind. 

Skeleton key 

If you look quite deeply at the camouflage pattern on an Army uniform, you might be able to find a blotch that forms the shape of a key. 

Unfortunately for its wearer, this is supposedly a sign of bad luck. In fact, the key-shaped blotch referred to as a skeleton key, is thought to attract enemy bullets.