This St. Patrick’s day, luck is on the mind, and four leaf clovers aren’t the only thing that can bring it to you. There are several animals that can bring you good fortune.
While the rabbit’s foot may be seen as lucky, the death of the rabbit donating the foot has to be done in an unlucky way for the foot to be seen as lucky. In a cemetery, under the full moon, on Friday the 13th, with a silver bullet or the foot should be taken while the rabbit is still alive. There’s no concrete evidence suggesting where the superstition came from, but I think we can all agree that the rabbit is the unlucky party.
The origin of the Lucky Cricket is thought to be 500 B.C. in China. The Chinese revered singing insects, and the cricket more than the rest. During the Tang Dynasty, keeping crickets as pets in little cages suspended above doors and from the rafters. They could be used as a sort of alarm, as they stop chirping when approached. During the Song Dynasty, cricket fighting became popular. Male crickets are naturally aggressive toward each other, and with no blood or killing, the sport was, and still is, widely appreciated. The louder the cricket, the more valuable they were considered. Farmers relied on cricket chirps to know when to begin planting in the spring, and their “fierce warrior spirit” and intelligence were revered. Lucky Crickets are still kept as pets today.
Ladybugs are thought to be considered lucky due to their help with crops. Ladybugs eat pests that enjoy munching on farmers’ fields, so are a natural pest control. In Catholicism, they are thought to be a gift from the Virgin Mary, to help farmers protect their crops. The black spots on their backs are thought to be the “Seven Sorrows” of Mary.
A ladybug landing on you is thought to be very lucky, and you’re supposed to make a wish. Whatever way the ladybug flies away is the direction your good luck will come from. Killing a ladybug is considered bad luck. A ladybug with 7 or less spots is thought to be a sign of a good harvest.
Cranes appear in legends, myths and religions across the world. In Japan, they are a holy creature that symbolizes good fortune and longevity. It is thought that if you fold a thousand paper cranes, you will be granted a wish by a crane. The graceful movement of cranes influenced several martial arts styles. Cranes even appear in Aesop’s Fables.
In India and southeast Asia, elephants are revered. So much so that they appear in many religious depictions of Hindu gods. The Hindu god of luck, wisdom and success, Ganesha, is depicted with an elephant’s head. Then, in American culture, instead of using a depiction of Ganesha, elephant figurines were used for good luck. The “trunk-up” position of lucky elephants isn’t based in Hindu culture, but is an American adaptation thought to be a way for the elephant to “shower you in luck.”
The German tradition of gifting marzipan pigs at New Year’s has origins in Medieval times. A medieval board game, House of Fortune, where one of the best dice rolls is often correlated with an image of a lucky pig. In playing cards, the card with the highest value in German and Swiss sets of cards had a depiction of a pig.
While many will be looking for 4 leaf clovers and pots of gold this St. Patrick’s Day, you can find luck all around you, as long as you know what to look for.