Close
Image description

The History of Good Luck Charms

May 21st, 2012 Collectibles

Good luck charms have become an indelible part of our collective consciousness - we know that horseshoes and four-leaf clovers are good luck, but most of us haven't taken the time to figure out why this is the case. You'll see plenty of bracelets with a wide variety of good luck charms on them at most jewelry stores. In fact, these items have been giving people peace of mind for hundreds of years! If you've always wondered where a number of our most popular lucky charms come from, here's an explanation on some of the most common ones.

1. Horseshoes. There are several explanations as to why horseshoes are regarded as good luck, and though researchers haven't been able to agree on which is truly correct, one of the more popular theories suggests that it has something to do with witchcraft. According to common lore, the reason witches are known to have traveled on flying brooms is because they didn't like riding on horses, who perhaps could sense their ill will and would refuse to let them ride. Therefore, if you hang a horseshoe over your door, witches will not want to enter your house.

2. Four-leaf clover. We all know that the elusive four-leaf clover brings good luck, but why? It all goes back to Irish theology. It's said that the traditional three-leaf clover stands for the Holy Trinity in Christianity - the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. If you happen to stumble on a fourth leaf, it's said to represent the grace of God. Of course, the mere fact that four-leaf clovers are so rare makes finding one a lucky act in and of itself, which could also have something to do with the legend.

3. Rabbit's foot. Many of us have fond memories of carrying around a lucky rabbit's foot as a child (probably not real!). It may seem like a random item for good luck, but it may have something to do with the symbolic value that rabbits hold. Bunnies are generally regarded as fertile creatures, representing new, abundant life. Another theory is that rabbit's' hind feet touch the ground before their front legs when they hop, which led some to believe that they may have some sort of magical significance.

4. Amulets. Other than these specific objects, lucky amulets and medallions have been in use for seemingly thousands of years, dating all the way back to Ancient Rome. More significantly, in Christianity, you frequently see people wearing small metal crosses around their necks, which not only symbolize their faith but also ward off demonic influences. In Japan, you frequently see amulets, such as the Omamori, which is commonly sold at Buddhist or Shinto sites. They are believed to bring good luck to whoever is wearing them and are made from all sorts of materials, such as bicycle reflectors or credit cards. Omamori are interesting because they're made for specific purposes, such as protection while driving or financial stability. It's an interesting take on a practice that has existed in one form or another for thousands of years.

As you can see, good luck charms have been around for quite some time. We like to feel that we have a degree of control over the world around us, and these help foster that sentiment. Whether your reasons for wearing good luck charms are religious or because you believe in forces beyond our control, these charms are here to stay!