The History of Lucky Symbols

There are symbols of good luck everywhere – horseshoes, four leaf clovers, rainbows, even the UK’s Lotto has crossed fingers as its logo – and they have become such an ingrained part of our lives and culture that most people don’t even question them when they see them, and for many thousands of people their reaction to a piece of good or bad luck superstition is automatic. They might blow a kiss to a magpie when they see one, they might pick up a penny they see on the ground (but not if it’s facing tails up!), and they might deliberately not step on the cracks in the pavement, for example. But exactly how did the idea of having a ‘lucky’ penny, plant, stone, or piece of clothing really come about? And does it have any basis in fact?

Superstition has always been part of human nature. It had to be. Before the advent of science and the ability of mankind to delve deeper into strange ideas and phenomenon, everything that happened from sunrise to sunset (and including those too!) must have seemed like magic. And for those ancient people from whom we are descended, the world must have felt like a completely uncontrollable place – nature really did have the upper hand. So how else could a burgeoning population keep the fear and uncertainty out of their lives but with superstition? It may sound like a counter-productive idea, but if they could attribute the good and bad things that were happening to them to the world around them, they could begin to tame it – and using lucky symbols was one way of doing that.

In fact, it could be said that superstition made us into the people we are today!

Archaeologists and historians have discovered evidence of lucky symbols dating back to around 1550 BC, but anthropologists have gone one better, and confirmed that there are actual cave drawings that depict how early humans warded off bad luck! And in Africa the tradition (or superstition) of carrying a mojo bag (a bag containing something that reminds the wearer of a lucky time; it could be any kind of souvenir including items given to them from family and friends) is as popular now as it ever was.

Do these trinkets, amulets, and other symbols of good luck really work though? And if not, why do so many people believe that they do?

That is exactly the secret behind it. It’s belief.

Believing that something is lucky – or not – usually comes from something that happened once that seems to prove it to the person involved. They might have worn a particular shirt when they won the jackpot in a casino, and perhaps the next time they wore the same shirt they won again. So in their minds the belief is that that shirt has to be bringing them good luck. And the remarkably resilient human brain will believe that even if and when the evidence points to the contrary – even if and when the proof shows that they don’t always win when they wear it.

Some would say it’s possible to make yourself lucky – believe it and it will be true, send out positive ideas and wishes into the universe and they will manifest… Investigations into the power of the mind have been going on for decades now, and new ideas are being added all the time. We can’t say with any certainty that thinking yourself lucky – with the aid of a special lucky symbol – really works… but we’re not saying it doesn’t either!