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Eight Weird and Wonderful Good Luck Charms From Around the World

Last Updated: Monday 14th November 2016, 15:34 pm

Been down on your luck lately? Your Irish Lotto numbers not lining up? Rather than scouring your lawn for a four-leaf clover or eyeing up your pet rabbit’s fluffy little feet, you might want to look a little further afield for a way to reverse your fortunes. 

Check out this list of eight unusual lucky charms, objects and animals from all over the world — you never know, one or two of them might just bring a few extra Euros your way!

1. Lucky Cats

You’ve probably seen those little white cat statues, or at least pictures of them, in your local Chinese takeaway or import store. Maneki neko, literally meaning “beckoning cats” in their native Japanese, might appear to be waving hello or raising a fist in solidarity, but they’re actually telling you (and good fortune) to come closer. Part of the reason that this isn’t immediately apparent to westerners is because the gesture the cats make (if you’ve ever seen one of those solar-powered cat ornaments with a moving paw) is the Japanese way of saying “come hither”, with the palm facing down, since beckoning with the palm up is considered rude. At any rate, these cat statues can be found in shops, restaurants and businesses all over Asia, and are thought to bring good luck — especially of the financial kind — to the owner.  

2. Noodles

Seeing as we’re already at the takeaway, we might as well order! A number of Asian cultures consider noodles to be a very lucky food, to the point that they’re one of the first things eaten on New Year’s Day. The belief is that the uncut noodles’ length represents a long and prosperous life ahead, so beginning the year with a bowl of noodles is thought to be a way of setting yourself up for good things — perhaps something to bear in mind when perusing the takeaway menu before this Friday’s EuroMillions draw!

3. Pigs

You might want to steer clear of the sweet-and-sour pork, though. Pigs are seen as symbols of wealth and good fortune in a number of countries, from Cuba to Germany, and have been associated with wealth since the middle ages. There’s even a German saying: ”Schwein gehabt,” which literally means "to have pig" but implies that a person has been lucky in some way, often narrowly avoiding danger. There’s no real proof that pigs are especially lucky today, but you might want to pick up a bag of Percy Pig sweets along with your next Lotto ticket, just to be sure.

4. Acorns

And what do those happy, decidedly un-sweetened pigs munch upon while rummaging around in the woods? Acorns, of course!

Acorns were traditionally a sign of good luck in England, and were routinely carried about the person by travellers for protection. In Scandinavia, meanwhile, people once believed that oak trees belonged to Thor, the thunder god himself, so would leave acorns on their windowsills to protect their homes from lightning strikes. In many countries today, acorns are still considered as powerful a lucky charm as a horseshoe or four-leaf clover.

5. Ladybirds

Kids are fascinated by them, but historically these pretty little bugs were revered in numerous countries as symbols of good luck. Their British-English name comes from the term “our lady’s bird”, since in Christianity, the Virgin Mary was at one time frequently painted wearing a red cloak. Further afield, the Turkish name for the pretty little insects is “uğur böceği”, or simply "good luck bug", so the next time you see one in your garden, it might be a good idea to count the spots on its back and include the number on your lottery game card.

6. Money spiders

The Linyphiidae, to use its Latin name, is a species of tiny spider seen everywhere from the UK and Ireland to the far reaches of Australia. There is a long-held superstition that a money spider running over a part of your body is a sign that you are about to come into riches, so before you reach for a tissue or a rolled-up newspaper when you spot one crawling across the living room wall, you might want to consider gently popping it outside in the shed instead. You never know, they might bring you good luck in return!

7. Crossed fingers

In the UK, the symbol of a hand with two crossed fingers is printed on the top of every National Lottery ticket, but crossed fingers have their roots in Christianity, with people making the gesture as a way of imploring God to help them when doing or discussing something that might otherwise end badly for them. Nowadays, you’re more likely to catch little children doing it behind their back while telling a lie in a last-ditch attempt to deflect whatever bad karma might be coming their way for telling porky-pies...

8. The number eight

There’s a reason there is a list of eight, rather than seven, lucky things in this post: in China, the number is considered auspicious because its pronunciation is close to that of the word for wealth, and in Japan, when written as a kanji character, the number symbolises steady growth by starting off narrow at the top and opening wider at the bottom. The number eight is considered so lucky in China, in fact, that the Beijing Olympic Games commenced not just on the 8th of August, 2008, but at precisely eight minutes and eight seconds past eight in the evening — definitely a number to include in your next lottery flutter!

So there you have it, eight alternative lucky charms to try out the next time you’re going through a lotto slump. Play online at the Buy Tickets page and keep those fingers crossed, a beckoning cat nearby and a fistful of acorns in the window, and maybe, just maybe, this time next week you’ll be living the good life! 

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