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A keychain containing a four-leaf clover

A good luck charm is an amulet or other item that is believed to bring good luck. Almost any object can be used as a charm. Coins and buttons are examples, as are small objects given as gifts, due to the favorable associations they make. Many souvenir shops have a range of tiny items that may be used as good luck charms. Good luck charms are often worn on the body, but not necessarily.[1]


The mojo is a charm originating in African culture. It is used in voodoo ceremonies to carry several lucky objects or spells and intended to cause a specific effect. The concept is that particular objects placed in the bag and charged will create a supernatural effect for the bearer. Even today, mojo bags are still used. Europe also contributed to the concept of lucky charms. Adherents of St. Patrick (the patron saint of Ireland) adopted the four-leaf clover as a symbol of Irish luck because clovers are abundant in the hills of Ireland.[2]


Luck is symbolized by a wide array of objects, numbers, symbols, plant and animal life which vary significantly in different cultures globally. The significance of each symbol is rooted in either folklore, mythology, esotericism, religion, tradition, necessity, or a combination thereof.

Symbol Culture Notes
7 Western, Japanese [3][4]
8 Chinese, Japanese Sounds like the Chinese word for "fortune". See Numbers in Chinese culture#Eight

Used to mean the sacred and infinite in Japanese. A prime example is using the number 8 to refer to Countless/Infinite Gods (八百万の神, Yaoyorozu no Kami) (lit. Eight Million Gods). See 8#As a lucky number.

Aitvaras Lithuania [5]
Acorns Norse [6]
Albatross Considered a sign of good luck if seen by sailors.[7][8]
Amanita muscaria [citation needed]
Ashtamangala Indian religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism Buddhism: Endless knot, Lotus flower, Dhvaja, Dharmachakra, Bumpa, Golden Fish, Parasol, Conch; additional symbols for Hinduism and Jainism[citation needed]
Bamboo Chinese [9]
Barnstar United States [10][11]
Chimney sweep Many parts of the world Said to bring good luck when being touched, especially on New Year and on weddings.[citation needed]
Corno portafortuna Central and Southern Italy [citation needed]
Ladybird beetles German, Italian, Poles, Russian, Turkish, Brazilian, Serbia There is an old children's song in Serbia "Let, let, bubamaro, donesi mi sreću" meaning "Fly, fly, ladybug, bring me the happiness". In Serbian, "sreća" means "good chances" as in a lottery or "happiness", but this is about emotions.[citation needed]
Dreamcatcher Native American (Ojibwe) In Native American Ojibwa culture the human mind was believed to be susceptible to dark spirits, when the mind is weakest (I.e. asleep) and would give bad dreams. In defense the men and women would weave dream catchers. These talismans would let the good dream spirits through, whilst trapping the bad spirits in the pattern.[12][13]
Fish Chinese, Hebrew, Ancient Egyptian, Tunisian, Indian, Japanese [14][15][16][17][18][19]
Bird or flock going from right to left Paganism Auspicia [citation needed]
A monk passing through Buddhist [citation needed]
Four-leaf clover Irish and Celtic, German, Poles [20][21]
Shamrock or Clover Irish While in most of the world, only the four-leafed clover is considered lucky, in Ireland all Irish Shamrocks are.[citation needed]
Horseshoe English, Poles and several other European ethnicities Horseshoes are considered lucky when turned upwards but unlucky when turned downwards, although some people believe the opposite.[22][23]
Jade Chinese [citation needed]
Jew with a coin Poland Thought to bring money.[24][25][26]
The lù or 子 zi Chinese A symbol thought to bring prosperity.
Maneki-neko Japanese, Chinese Often mistaken as a Chinese symbol due to its usage in Chinese communities, the Maneki-neko is Japanese.[citation needed]
Pig Chinese, German [27]
Pythons' eyes Meitei culture Believed that pythons' eyes bring positive attention, good fortune, guard against awa ana (Meitei for 'bad happenings') and the unhindered travelling to desired places.[28][29]
Rabbit's foot North America, England and Wales (originating from a hare's foot) A rabbit's foot can be worn or carried as a lucky charm.[30]
White rat Roman Empire The Romans sometimes saw rats as omens. A white rat was considered to be auspicious, while a black rat has unfortunate significance.[citation needed]
Wishbone Europe, North America [31]
Sarimanok Maranao [citation needed]
Swallow Korea Rooted in Folktale 'Heungbu and Nolbu'
Swastika Multiple cultures The swastika or crux gammata (in heraldry fylfot), historically used as a symbol in Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism, and widely popular in the early 20th century as a symbol of good luck or prosperity before adopted as a symbol of Nazism in the 1920s and 30s.
Tortoiseshell cat Many cultures Rooted in Folklore
White Elephant Thai [32]
White heather Irish Travellers, Scotland [33]

See also


  1. ^ "The Difference Between A Talisman Amulet and A Charm". Archived from the original on 6 December 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  2. ^ "History and Legends of Lucky Charms and Talismans". Archived from the original on 5 April 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  3. ^ Dolnick and Davidson, p. 85
  4. ^ Greer, p. 21
  5. ^ Algirdas Julius Greimas, "Of Gods and Men: Studies in Lithuanian Mythology", Indiana Univ. Pr. (November 1992)
  6. ^ Waxon, Dawn (18 September 2008). "Pieces of the Past: Acorny tale". The Repository. Retrieved 9 March 2023.
  7. ^ Webster, p. 6
  8. ^ Dodge, p. 748
  9. ^ Parker, p. 150
  10. ^ Urbina, Eric (22 July 2006). "For the Pennsylvania Dutch, a Long Tradition Fades". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 18 June 2012. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  11. ^ Votruba, Cindy (8 September 2008). "It's in the Stars". Marshall Independent. Archived from the original on 30 September 2011. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  12. ^ Young, Eric (2 February 1998). "New Age Solution for Coping with Material-world Tension". The Sacramento Bee. ProQuest 246401007.
  13. ^ Thrall, Christopher (17 September 2005). "Objects in the mirror may be more complex than they appear". Postmedia News. ProQuest 460167802.
  14. ^ Helfman, p. 400
  15. ^ Marks, p. 199
  16. ^ Toussaint-Samat, p. 311
  17. ^ Hackett, Smith, & al-Athar, p. 218
  18. ^ Sen, p. 158
  19. ^ Volker, p. 72
  20. ^ Dolnick and Davidson, p. 38
  21. ^ Binney, p. 115
  22. ^ Cooper, p. 86
  23. ^ DeMello, p. 35
  24. ^ "Tartakowsky, Ewa. "Le Juif à la pièce d'argent." La vie des idées (2017)" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 March 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  25. ^ The Jew with a Coin: Analysis of a contemporary folkloric emblem (AAPJ) Archived 2017-02-27 at the Wayback Machine, Joanna Tokarska-Bakir, 2019.
  26. ^ Driving to Treblinka: A Long Search for a Lost Father Archived 2019-07-03 at the Wayback Machine, Diana Wichtel, 2018, Awa Press, page 144. link to extract from book in Nzherald, published 16 May 2018
  27. ^ Webster, p. 202
  28. ^ Wouters, Jelle J. P. (16 May 2022). Vernacular Politics in Northeast India: Democracy, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity. Oxford University Press. p. 205. ISBN 978-0-19-267826-3.
  29. ^ Wouters, Jelle J. P. (16 May 2022). Vernacular Politics in Northeast India: Democracy, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity. Oxford University Press. p. 219. ISBN 978-0-19-267826-3.
  30. ^ Webster, p. 212
  31. ^ Edward A. Armstrong."The Folklore of Birds" (Dover Publications, 1970)
  32. ^ "'Lucky' white elephant for Burma". BBC News. 9 November 2001. Archived from the original on 3 April 2015. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  33. ^ McClintock, David (15 January 1970). Why Is White Heather Lucky?. Country Life. Archived from the original on 4 July 2021. Retrieved 3 April 2021.