Italian Good Luck Charms
Talismans & Superstitions
Charms have been around for ages, and many are believed to bring good fortune to their owners. There are lots of different kinds of lucky charms found all over the world, each with their own history and types of good fortune they bring.
Italy is no exception, having its own share of good luck charms:
The Devil’s Horn, also known as the cornicello, cornetto, or corno, (pictured above) is one of the most popular Italian good luck charms. It is an ancient charm worn to protect against the evil eye, and has been linked to Druid and Celtic beliefs and myths. Sometimes, these are also worn by men as necklaces to keep curses off their manliness, somewhat similar to a mojo. Although it is called the Devil’s Horn, it predates Christianity by thousands of years.
The Gobbo (often used as a synonym for hunchback in Italian) is another good luck symbol which is usually portrayed as a hunchback wearing a suit and a top hat. Sometimes, he holds a horse shoe, an umbrella, and/or a cornicello. It has been said that by rubbing his (hunch)back, you will bring forth good luck.
The Evil Eye
The Malocchio or the Evil Eye, which is what the cornicello protects its owners from, is a famous Italian superstition. It is believed that it can be summoned even by simple things such as compliments. An example would be someone telling you that your child is beautiful and to protect him or her, you have to make the horn sign mano cornuta. One way to find out if your child has indeed been cursed with the evil eye is by sprinkling drops of oil in a bowl of holy water and if it stays in drops, he/she is fine, but if the oil spreads out or becomes a blob, it is then the Evil Eye. If you wish to compliment someone without giving them the evil eye, it is advised to immediately follow it up with a “God bless him/her”.
Italians also believe that certain foods are associated with good luck. Eating lentils on New Year's Eve will bring good luck, as it traditionally symbolizes the desire and wish to earn more money the next year (since lentils are shaped like coins). A loaf of bread should never be laid upside down - this is disrespectful since bread is the body of Christ. And never stick a knife into a loaf of bread without cutting it (it's bad luck).
Differences in culture and traditions bring forth different perspectives and beliefs when it comes to what brings good or bad luck to people. Although these Italian good luck charms and superstitions may seem odd to those who are not familiar with the Italian culture and beliefs, it is just the same as with other cultures wanting to bring good fortune upon themselves. It is part of human nature to want good things to happen to people through different objects, thus, the popularity of good luck charms.