We could all use a little good luck in our lives from time to time—or at least the comfort of the potential of positive fortune. That’s why good luck charms have been around, and since endured, in nearly every culture for centuries. From animals to tokens that ward off evil, good luck charms have brought people peace and consolation.
If you’re looking to add some good luck to your life, look at the following fortune-bearing symbols from around the world and choose the ones that speak to you.
Known as the “Beckoning Cat” in Japan, this is a statue you might see at a Japanese restaurant or other business. The right paw attracts money and the left attracts customers, bringing good luck to their owners.
These oak tree seeds symbolize many things, including power, property and spiritual growth. In the 11th century, the English used to carry them as symbols of good luck. The Vikings also used acorns as good luck charms—they believed that oak trees attracted lightning and that by carrying acorns they would be spared the wrath of the mythological god Thor.
These animals serve as good luck charms in China. Typically, they are represented in groups of five bats symbolizing five different types of good fortune: virtue, health, love, wealth and longevity. Red bat, in fact, means “vast fortune” in Chinese and the animals are often represented on clothing and furniture to bring luck.
These shapes are an ancient symbol of power, luck, and strength in many cultures, particularly in Egypt, as seen through the pyramids. They are also thought to represent the life cycle of birth, maturity, and death.
With roots in Celtic and African-American folklore, rabbits have been considered good luck for many thousands of years. While today you are unlikely to get your hands on an actual rabbit’s foot (which is probably for the best), the symbol of this good luck charm lives on in the form of latex and faux fur renditions, typically made into key chains.
In Indian culture, the elephant, called Ganesha, is one of the most respected and beloved gods. But the animal had long been a good luck charm in cultures the world over, symbolizing stability and wisdom.
The Ancient Romans and Greeks believed that having a certain lucky key would unlock the proverbial gates of heaven. Since then, keys have been used to symbolize opening doors, opportunities, and even hearts. They are good luck charms for those who wish to usher in new chapters in their lives.
One of the most iconic good luck charms, and often associated with the Irish, the four-leaf clover has roots not only in the Bible but from the Middle Ages as well. The four leaves are thought to symbolize luck, faith, love, and hope.
This hand-shaped symbol famous for keeping evil at bay is popular in Arab and Israeli cultures with roots in ancient Mesopotamian religions. People might hang a hamsa over their front door to keep bad luck out of their homes or put them any other place they want to ward off evil spirits.
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