Top 10 Good Luck Charms And Their Origins (Lucky Charms)
Growing up, we loved finding those colorful marshmallows in our favorite, sugary cereal! Soaked in milk, these tiny morsels… Oh, wait. Not those Lucky Charms? As foolish as we feel now, we always feel good when we have one of these classic charms at our side… In need of a boost of luck? Try out one of these 10 most common charms.
Just because it may bring you a little luck doesn’t give you the right to start cutting off feet from rabbits. We just wanted to get that clear. So, where did we get the idea that the severed foot of a rabbit would bring about good fortune? The origin of the rabbit foot as a talisman stems from the Celtics with additional foots in Europe, China, the Americas, and Africa. Specifics about good fortune come into play in early North American folklore – and boy do things get specific. The charm would have to be a left foot from a rabbit killed in a cemetery under either a full or new moon, depending on which version you follow.
A blacksmith named Dunstan, a Devil in need of shoes… elements of a tale that eventually led to the common belief that the horseshoe was a symbol of luck. Dunstan was believed to have affixed a horseshoe to the Devil’s hoof and, when the beast was too pained to walk, held him hostage until it agreed to enter a place with a horseshoe hung over the door. How the horseshoe should be hung varies in different parts of the world and some cultures even believe the crescent shape of the shoe wards off the evil eye while others claim witches fear the iron horse sneaker.
Four Leaf Clover
One in 10,000. Those are the odds given for finding a four-leaf clover. Also, the same odds you have of being injured by a toilet, which may or may not be lucky in its own way. Superstitions surrounding the four-leaf clover are believed to have stemmed from the story of Adam & Eve, as it’s believed Eve took a clover with her after being banished to remember the paradise she had lost. Irish folklore connects it to Druid priests, who used shamrocks to ward off evil and heal ailments. Egyptian tradition calls for a clover to be given to a newly-wed couple to represent their eternal love. Each of the clover’s four leaves represent either faith, love, hope, and luck.
The Cornicello, or little horn, is an Italian symbol believed to ward off the evil eye, its origin stemming from the Old European moon goddess. Though Catholic evangelical skeptics associate it with the Devil’s horns, the twisted symbol has been accepted into modern Catholicism by most, relating it to the Virgin Mary who stands upon a lunar crescent. Made of either red coral, gold, or silver, the cornicello is still found today in Italy and within traditional Italian families around the world, with some men even wearing it to protect their genitals from the evil eye. Hey, better safe than sorry...
Elephants are a lot of things, intelligent and large being two of their most predominant features; but certain cultures also consider these majestic creatures to be lucky. This belief bears roots within Hinduism, specifically with the Hindu god, Ganesha. Thought to be a Remover of Obstacles and a god of wisdom and success, Ganesha is visualized with an elephant head atop a human body. For an elephant charm to be considered a symbol of good luck, it’s trunk must be pointed in an upright manner so that said luck doesn’t run out.
Why picking up a penny is considered lucky may have a few origins, one possibility being the superstition that the gods gifted metal as a means of protecting against evil. Traditions in Ireland and Northern Europe also believed that pennies belonged to tiny creatures like leprechauns and fairies, and one is supposed to spit on the coin and throw it back into the bushes in hopes that the small critter will accept it as payment in exchange for good luck. A little more rooted in reality is the fact that, at one time, pennies held more value and simply finding one may have just been a stroke of luck.
The next time you’re in a Chinese restaurant and see a golden cat waving at you, don’t just assume it’s a tacky ornament. The Maneki Neko, or Beckoning Cat, is a symbol that a lot have seen, but few probably understand. Its first appearance is widely believed to have been during Japan’s Endo period, but why it’s a symbol of good luck and fortune differs. One tale tells of a man’s life, saved by a cat who appeared to beckon him from his location, which was then struck by lightning. The rise of the Maneki Neko may also have loose ties to the decline of the sex and companionship industry after the Meiji Period.
We wish it was just any sort of raccoon bone thought to bring good luck, but this superstition refers to a rather specific part of the animal. Specifically, we’re talking about the raccoon baculum, or penis bone. No, there’s no need to rewind, you definitely heard that right. Commonly associated as a love charm, one that a man would give a woman when seeking her love, the baculum of the raccoon is also connected to luck. Gamblers were known to wrap their money around the raccoon bone in hopes of gaining good fortune. Use of the bone has roots in hoodoo, but likely originated from the Pawnee people, who would place the strange bone with ears of corn in sacred bundles.
There are many different beliefs surrounding peacock feathers, such as Greek mythology, which sees them as a symbol of the vault to heaven. To Hindu culture, peacock feathers are revered as something more in line of what we’re looking to cover, a symbol of good luck and good fortune. Peacock feathers are often associated with the Goddess Lakshmi, a bringer of wealth, which explains why some homeowners are known to hang the feathers throughout their abode. As an additional perk, the feathers are thought to keep flies away from the home. Sounds like reason enough to us to hang them about.
Don’t get all up in arms, we swear we aren’t off our rocker. Before it became a symbol of the villified Nazi Party, the swastika, or gammadion cross, was an ancient religious symbol, connected with Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The word swastika, derived from the Sanskrit svastika, means luck, glory, auspiciousness and security… that is, of course, until Hitler declared the symbol the perfect addition to the Nazi flag. As much as you may want to bear the mark of the Swastika for some instant good luck, it’s safe to say the symbol has been tainted for most parts of the world for quite a long time, if not indefinitely.