Dude, How’s Your Luck?

Whether they’ll admit it or not, most everyone believes in luck. Everyone knocks on wood to prevent jinxing themselves, tosses spilt salt over their left shoulder, and even crossing yourself (aka the sign of the cross or blessing yourself) can be seen as a good-luck action. With St. Patrick’s Day just around the bend, everyone is going to be releasing their inner Irishman and what better time to give ourselves a boost in the luck department?


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I was raised by a very old fashioned, rural family. We’ve got traditions and superstitions that have been carried on for literally generations. My grandfather is so superstitious that he won’t plant potatoes if the astrological signs (Man of the Signs aka Zodiac Man) are below the reins (Libra) in the month; the same goes for making sauerkraut. He says the potatoes will rot in the ground and the ‘krout will turn brown in the jars; and having worked on the farm with him for the last 20 odd years, I’ve seen it happen.

As I said, we’ve all got our own little methods that we believe will help us have better luck. But where did these beliefs come from? What’s the true meaning behind them? Let’s find out! Here are some of the most common good-luck charms.

  • Four-Leaf Clover – It’s believed that each leaf has a particular representation; Faith, Hope, Love and Luck – respectively. I actually carry 3 four-leaf clovers in my wallet.
  • Rabbit’s Foot – As a child, I probably had 30 of these things. The origin of this lucky charm is up for debate. So attribute it to being “hoodoo,” while others accredit it to the Celts. However, not any rabbit’s foot will do. There are certain particularities that must be put in place in order to make the foot lucky. I guess all those 50-cent-toy-machine ones I got as a kid weren’t as lucky as I thought.
  • Lucky Horseshoe – The belief is that by hanging a horseshoe with its ends pointed upward, it will gather luck for you, whereas with the ends downward, all the luck will fall out. Some also believe the shoe to be luckier when lost by a horse and kept by the person who found it. As silly as it sounds, I know farmers who keep thrown shoes nailed up in their barns.
  • Wishbones – This is one that my grandma taught me when I was a wee youngster. The way we played was after a large turkey dinner, we’d pull the wishbone until it broke. The person with the larger piece then got to make a wish. Beyond this practice, the wishbone was long used as a method of divination.

While we’re on the topic of tradition’s origins, let’s talk about the holiday itself. Believe it or not, St. Patrick’s Day has a meaning besides that of getting completely drunk while covered in green body paint. Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and thus St. Patrick’s Day is always celebrated on his day of death, March 17th. The day was designated to commemorate Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. Celebrated by the church as well, for this day the eating and drinking restrictions imposed by Lent are lifted, thus promoting the drinking aspect of the day.

To everyone reading, I say this: Good luck and be safe this St. Patrick’s Day!



– Cameron Blevins

Follow me: @CamOnAir