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Good Luck Charms Around The World

Updated on June 20, 2011

Amulets have been popular for thousands of years and were an essential part of early man’s traditions and superstitions. Initially, amulets took the form of unusual stones or pieces of wood believed to provide protection, power and good fortune to their owners, and while the designs may have changed, the belief continues.

Man carrying an Ankh
Man carrying an Ankh

In ancient Egypt, talismans were fundamental elements in everyday living. They were incorporated with pieces of jewelry as personal embellishments, and more importantly as funerary amulets. These were put on the dead on the day of burial for the deceased’s safe journey and protection in the other world. Ankhs (a t-shaped cross with a loop top) were considered one of the most powerful amulets and were often seen in Egyptian tombs. They represented eternal life and were placed on mummies to strengthen the resurrected spirits. They were also often carried by (live) Egyptians to protect them from evil forces. 

Iron has long been considered a good luck metal that wards off evil and supernatural beings, while a crescent shape is a sign of prosperity - this is the reason why horseshoes are regarded as good luck charms in a lot of cultures, particularly in Europe where they originated. They protect against evils and witches and are often hung over doorways to deflect any wicked spirits and invite good fortune. Some cultures hang them facing upward to catch wealth while others believe that they should be facing downward so that luck flows out and surrounds the home.

The four-leaf clover symbolizes several different lucky attributes - hope, faith, love and luck. This theory dates back 1,600 years and legend has it that it began in Ireland when St. Patrick picked up a shamrock (a three leafed clover) after an Easter mass and declared that the 3 leaves represented the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The fourth leaf is said to symbolize God's grace. Since the four clover leaf is a rare variation of the common 3 leafed clover, it is believed to bring good luck to those who own it, particularly if found by chance.

Special coins are also regarded in many countries as lucky charms. A wedding practice which started in Great Britain during the Victorian era is for the bride to put a sixpence coin in her left shoe. This is to guarantee health, happiness, wealth and marital bliss for the married couple. Austrians consider a coin found during a heavy downpour lucky because it is said to have come from heaven. In Ancient China, Chinese coins (with square holes in the center) represented prosperity. They were worn as amulets to protect the owners from illness and negativity.

These are just some of the good luck charms that have prevailed through the ages and are as popular today as ever. Even if you’re not sure how much you believe in it, why not add at least one lucky charm to your home or bracelet? You never know...


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    • Cattie C profile image

      Cattie C 6 years ago from Boston

      Thanks! I believe it (your friend's lucky pencil). I myself never leave the house without a little Ganesh charm. :-)

    • CWanamaker profile image

      CWanamaker 6 years ago from Arizona

      Awesome. One of my friends as a "lucky Pencil" that he swears is the reason he graduated college.