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Common Good Luck Charms and Their Meanings

By Edited Jun 16, 2015 0 0

Why Your Good Luck Charms Are So Lucky...

     Recently a friend and I were complaining to each other about the crummy luck we seemed to be having lately. 
     "I'm going to get a charm bracelet and hang every good luck charm known to man on it," I joked.  "Then there's no way this can continue!"
     This led into a discussion about the various good luck charms in existence, which in turn led to use realizing we didn't know why a four-leaf clover or rabbit's foot really was lucky.  Is wearing a decapitated animal foot really good luck if you don't know the meaning behind it, or is just kind of gruesome and gross?  Or both, depending on your stance on such things.  Anyways, being the curious little monkey I am, I decided to research a few of the more well-known good luck charms and see what the meaning was behind them. 
Four Leaf Clovers
      It is said that four-leaf clovers only hold their luck if found by accident.  There are roughly ten thousand three-leaf clovers for every one clover with four leaves.  The first reason they are so lucky is that it must be lucky to have found one!  The four leaves of the clover are supposed to represent different qualities: faith, hope, love, and luck.   In ancient times, the Celts believed the four-leaf clover was a ward against evil spirits.
Japanese Lucky Cat (Maneki-Neko)
      The Japanese lucky cat is a common figurine in many shops and restaurants.  It is usually a white cat (traditionally a Japanese Bobtail) with one paw raised above its head.  This paw is usually on a hinge, so that it can move back and forth.  While some people tend to think the cat is waving a greeting, it is actually supposed to be beckoning people or luck towards it.  The higher the paw is raised, the more luck the cat is said to bring in, so the paw is usually raised above the head.
Horse Shoe
      Besides being a yummy marshmallow in Lucky Charms cereal, an iron horse shoe is also a real symbol of luck.  The horse shoe is a said to contain luck within it, and usually hung from the front door of a dwelling.  If hung right side up, it is said to catch good luck to the dwellers, and if hung upside down, it is said to release luck down upon the dwellers.   To be effective the horse shoe must be found, not purchased, and used, not new.
Rabbits Foot
      As a child you might have had a small dyed rabbit’s foot on a chain.  It is supposed to bring luck and ward off evil spirits.  There is no one particular source of why the rabbit’s foot brings good luck, but it is said to be rooted in ancient African or Celtic practices; the rabbit was considered a lucky animal.  Traditionally only the left hind foot of the rabbit can bring luck.
Cornicello (Good Luck Horn)
      The cornicello originates from Italy.  In fact the name cornicello means “small horn” in Italian.  It is more of a protective charm than one for luck, and it is common charm worn around the neck as a pendant.  It is said to protect the wearer from evil spirits and the evil eye.  It is commonly crafted of metal or red coral.
      When people here the word wishbone, images of Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving turkeys come to mind.  The wishbone is the breastbone of the fowl (it doesn’t have to a turkey) and comes in the shape of a curved V.  The bone is usually saved when the bone is carved and let to dry for at least three days.   After three days have passed, two people hold each end of the bone, make a wish, and pull until it snaps.  The lucky person with the longer half gets to have their wish come true. 
            There are hundreds of other charms and symbols that bring good luck, although these are just some of the most common.  Other symbols include lucky pennies, acorns, pots of gold, rainbows, koi fish, dice, the list is endless!


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