Most people have probably had some sort of an experience with a good luck charm, whether it was a penny, rabbit’s foot, four leaf clover, or some other object. Obviously, there is no scientific evidence for these items working. So if you still have bad luck, don’t blame us. The first horseshoes ever found are from the Etruscans in 400 BC. When the superstition was first introduced in northern Europe, most likely by wandering Celtic tribes, horseshoes were hung from above the doorway in an effort to ward off evil fairy folk who wandered the forests. They were also made of iron, which was considered lucky as well. The shoes were said to resemble the Celtic moon god’s crescent symbol. Depending on the source, horseshoes hung with the two ends pointed up collect the luck like a bowl, while horseshoes hung with the two ends pointed down spill out their luck on those who walk underneath it.
Another traditional aspect said to provide luck was that they were usually held up by seven iron nails—which, as we’ll see later on, is often seen as an important number. The act of knocking on wood does not have a clear origin. Most likely because ancient pagans used to have a lot of spirits who called the forests home, knocking on wood can be seen as a ward against evil or a plea from a deity for favor. Knocking came about before the 19th century but really caught on because many games played by children involved the action. By the 20th century, the superstition had become as widespread as it is today. There are many numbers that are considered lucky, but the highest of them all is 7. Christians because it is seen as a divine number of sorts. There are seven different levels of heaven, and there were seven days in God’s first week. The number also features prominently in several myths around the world.
In ancient Egypt, there were seven paths to heaven. However, in China, 7 is considered unlucky, as it is associated with death, and they prefer the number 8, as it rhymes with the word for prosperity or wealth. They are also said to bring good luck in the form of paper fortunes hidden inside the cookie. However, that is not the case. They were invented in 1914 by a Japanese man named Makoto Hagiwara in San Francisco. These rice cakes with paper fortunes stuffed inside were made at a Japanese shrine in the 19th century. As for the jump to Chinese restaurants, many Japanese immigrants living in California in the early 20th century owned places that served Americanized Chinese food, as their traditional fare didn’t seem to go over well. Men traditionally wear them around their neck, whereas women either pin them to their bra or inside their blouse. Mostly used as a good luck charm, it can also ward off evil.
Its first use was by the people of Mali, who inscribed Islamic verses on it either just before or just after they came in contact with Muslim missionaries beginning to spread their new religion. Depending on what is placed inside the pouch, the gris-gris can also be used as a form of black magic. Common ingredients in a gris-gris are herbs with purported magical qualities and dead animal parts. Jin Chan, or Ch’an Chu, is a red-eyed, three-legged bullfrog, usually sitting on a sloppy pile of coins. Originating in China thousands of years ago, the Jin Chan is a common charm in Chinese culture, especially in relation to Feng Shui, though its use as a wealth charm developed much more recently, possibly as late as the 16th or 17th century. However, it may be related to an ancient myth about a moon toad who became the essence of the Moon. It is said to bring good luck, mostly in the form of monetary gains, and its statues are often depicted with coins in their mouths. If the frog doesn’t have one, it needs to be pointed away from the house or it will suck the money out of the house. Japanese good luck charm in the form of a cat with its paw raised. Originating in Japan sometime between the 16th and 18th centuries, a maneki-neko is usually placed in shop windows or storefronts because it is said to bring business and prosperity.
Many of them are also depicted with coins in their paws. The classic mythical origin of the maneki-neko is that a downtrodden businessman happened upon a starving cat. Even though he had no money, he nursed it back to health, and his business picked up shortly after because the cat would sit in front of his store and wave at passers-by. Various superstitions arise when describing the elements. Used by the Hopi people of North America, kachina dolls have been around since the late 18th century. They represent any one of the hundreds of spirits that are said to interact with the tribe. Starting when they are one, Hopi girls are given two dolls each year. In addition to being an educational tool for young girls to learn about their culture, kachina dolls are also said to bring good luck to those families which make them, protecting them from evil and disaster. Its primary function is to protect the boat from evil spirits that would try to enter it or capsize it.