Posted July 31, 2013 by John Baintree in News

Lucky Superstitions Around the World

Superstition is an ancient practice, with the belief in supernatural forces spanning ages. Humans love to look for patterns in behavior, believing that if the same processes are followed, that the same outcomes will be recreated. This is largely an irrational belief, that is embodied by symbolism. Over time, certain symbols become attributed to certain outcomes. The ominous black cat. The lucky four leaf clover. Yet, different cultures and nationalities have their own superstitions, stemming from their own independent experiences. As a result, this produces a plethora of superstitions around the world, meaning one particular symbol might hold weight in one culture, but not others. For example, ‘lucky number 7′ is heralded among most of the western world, however, in China you would want to stay clear of this number as it is attributed to anger and death, with the 7th month of the year being the ‘ghostly month’. This article will take a look at some of the lucky superstitions from around the world – ranging from the somewhat logical to the ridiculous.

four leaf cloverThe Four Leaf Clover

A worldwide symbol for good luck, the four leaf clover is an extremely lucky symbol. There are a number of believed origins for this superstition. One is that a four leaf clover is extremely rare, with the shamrock, or three leaf clover, being the standard clover found though out the world. That would be the least far-fetched explanation of this superstition, but there are also supernatural theories. One is that the four leaf clover was used by St. Patrick to represent the Holy Trinity, with St. Patrick coming to be represented by the fourth leaf. Perhaps this goes some way to explaining the expression the ‘luck of the Irish’, although even that is unclear, with the apparent origins of this phrase stemming from successful Irish miners in the American gold rush.



Horse Shoe

The horse shoe, like many superstitions, has its base in religion. One of the leading theories says that a blacksmith once nailed a horse shoe to the devil’s hoof, with the blacksmith removing the shoe once the devil had agreed to stay out of all buildings where a horse shoe is placed above the door. That being said, the etiquette surrounding the lucky horse shoe differs from country to country. Some believe the shoe should always be placed pointing up, to avoid the good luck escaping from the ends, whereas others believe the shoe should always be placed pointing down, in order to encourage the good luck to flow through from the ends, enriching those who are in its vicinity.

Crossed Fingers

This emblem of good luck is interesting due to its historical context. Crossing one’s fingers was a genuine practice, carried out by Christians under Roman persecution. Christians would cross their fingers to signal their identity to other persecuted Christians, allowing them to recognise their own kind. In addition this, the act of crossing fingers, soon came to represent the protection of God – after all, if it was able to ensure the survival of Christianity, then it must have had some form of divine power…right?

Maneki-neko (Japanese Beckoning Cat)

It is a popular western misconception that this ornamental cat is waving. This is not true, the tradition of welcoming hand gestures differ between Japan and the west, with the cat actually moving its paw in a motion that is seen as beckoning by the Japanese. The ornament is said to bring good luck to its owner, with the maneki-neko being used extensively in Japanese shops. There are various tales of folklore surrounding the beckoning cat, with one of the most popular being the tale of the stray cat and the shop. The story claims that an unsuccessful shop owner cared for a stray cat when it wandered into his shop. He fed and cared for the cat when he had hardly enough food for himself. To show its appreciation, when fully recovered, the cat took remained outside the shop, beckoning in customers, which resulted in the transformation of the shop into a successful business.

Rabbit Foot

The lucky rabbit’s foot is entrenched within magic and tradition. Again, as with most superstitions, its origins are not totally clear. The symbol gained reputation within America, however this belief is believed to stem from African hoodoo magic. The left, hind foot of the rabbit is traditionally used as it Is believed to bring good luck to its owner. Another theory is that the origins of the lucky rabbit foot lay with the emphatic rate that rabbits reproduce. In some cultures, it is said, the rabbit foot is meant to grant the wearer the fertility of the rabbit, making it popular amongst women attempting to conceive.

Superstitions are a curious thing. How they come into existence is a tale of information being passed from generation to generation, and with many of these superstitions, they hark back to more profound times; they are often function as religious symbolism. Whether these superstitions will grant you success or not is unlikely – so don’t go gambling away your life savings and blaming it on a lucrative leafed plant or a friendly feline figurine.

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