In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, we start thinking about green things, leprechauns, and the luck of the Irish. What does luck mean anyway? Ultimately it’s a type of good fortune that comes into our lives by chance or fate, versus as a product of our own actions. Some people believe in destiny, and that everything happens for a reason. Some people place more emphasis on freewill and the importance of our own decisions.
Interestingly enough, though, even people who don’t believe in fate can be superstitious! Does avoiding walking under ladders and believing that breaking a mirror will cause misfortune defy logic? Perhaps. But we run into these lines of thinking all the time! Besides the classic examples, we see a lot of superstition with sports fans: always wearing a certain shirt on game day, or making sure you put on the left shoe first. Is Bud Light right? Is it only weird if it doesn’t work?
There are certain things that we’ve placed emphasis on bringing us good luck throughout history. Some of them are parts of nature, animals, or objects. Today I want to share seven good luck symbols that you might be familiar with.
#1: Wishing Bench/Well
If you see a fountain, its bottom is likely covered in coins. The idea is that you may make a wish while holding a coin, and throw it into the fountain to make the wish come true. This concept can be applied to wells as well, but my favorite version is the wishing bench at a park I used to frequent as a child. You’re supposed to sit on the bench while holding your coin, make a wish, then throw the coin behind you into the woods.
#2: Dream Catcher *
I used to attend a lot of Native American festivals as a child because I danced in a troupe that would perform at them. They would sell beautiful goods, and one time my parents let me buy a dream catcher. I pinned it above the headboard of my bed, as they are intended to rid you of bad dreams and nightmares (they get caught in the woven part of the design). I don’t remember having less bad dreams, but it’s possible. It was a long time ago! Something interesting about them is that if you see the feathers move, even slightly, that is supposed to indicate a good dream making its way through.
#3: Lucky Penny
“Find a penny, pick it up, and all day you’ll have good luck!” That’s a phrase I’ve heard plenty of times in my life. They say that it’s only good luck if you find it heads up, as shown in the picture. Remember when Eric Matthews found his? (start at 1:22) And if you want extra good luck, toss your lucky penny behind a wishing bench, or into a well or fountain. Pennies are obviously an American currency, so I’d be curious to know if other countries have a similar concept (and if it’s with the lowest denomination).
#4: Four Leaf Clover *
My mom has a talent for finding these. She just has an eye for them. To this day, I’ve never found my own, but she used to give them to me to press and keep in my wallet. The point is that most clovers only have three leaves, like the shamrocks you’ll see this time of year on St. Patrick’s Day decorations, so finding a four leafed clover is extra special, and posses power. Have you ever found one?
At the end of the rainbow, you will find a pot of gold! Another common theme celebrated around St. Patrick’s Day. And if you see a double rainbow, your pot of gold is probably going to be even bigger. Plus, they’re beautiful.
#6: Horse Shoe *
If you’re going to use the horseshoe as a sign of good luck, make sure to hang it so the closed portion is at the bottom, to keep the luck in! Many families hang these above thresholds in their home to keep their family safe. The origin of luck is supposedly because they were made by blacksmiths, which was considered a lucky job/trade.
#7: Ladybugs *
Even though we’re the only place that calls these cute insects “ladybugs” (not ladybirds), we still find them lucky. Specifically when they land on you! If a ladybug ever lands on me, I make a wish, just like when I catch the clock at 11:11 or find an eyelash on my cheek. Something I find interesting about this is that we are generally grossed out by insects. Ladybugs are harmless and cute, and we find it beneficial and fun for them to land on us, unlike a spider or mosquito.
There are tons of other good luck symbols, and I’d love to hear of ones you currently or previously have used or believe in. Do you believe in the concept of luck at all?