Quick. What’s the most widely used symbol for St. Patrick’s Day?
If you guessed a four-leaf clover, you’re wrong. But you’re not alone. The name St.Patrick no doubt conjures up thoughts of Ireland which brings to mind the term “luck of the Irish” which logically leads to the image of a lucky four-leaf clover. Years ago, I bought a pair of four-leaf clover earrings at Claire’s and wore
them just about every day in March. Not realizing, I’m embarrassed to admit, that I was perpetuating a misconception.
The traditional symbol of St. Patrick’s Day is a shamrock with three leaves, not four. Legend has it that, way back in the fourth century, St. Patrick himself used the three leaves of the delicate green plant to teach the concept of the Holy Trinity.
But I still wear the earrings anyway and not just on St. Patrick’s Day. They’re cute and maybe even lucky. Which brings to mind thoughts of other items considered lucky. Such as:
- Black-eyed peas. I would never, ever NOT eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. And now that I’ve discovered that Paula Deen eats exactly 365 of them every January 1—one for each day of the coming year—I plan to do the same on the first day of 2014.
- Ladybugs. Tradition holds that ladybugs bring good luck to those who treat them kindly and, conversely, bad luck to those who don’t. As I write this, I’ve had an upside-down ladybug lying comatose on my bathroom counter for three days. I righted her several times, to no avail, but I don’t dare flush her away until I’m certain she’s no longer twitching.
- And speaking of bugs, crickets are considered lucky, too. I have a hard time believing it, especially when one starts chirping from the deep recesses under my bed in the middle of the night. Ditto for dragonflies being good luck. They’re mesmerizing when they flutter down and land on your bare arm. And then they bite. What’s lucky about that?
- And speaking of bathroom counters, did you know that good luck will come your way if you discover a stray eyelash, place it on your fingertip, make a wish, and blow it off?
- Which mammal is considered good luck? Dolphins. Mostly, I suspect, because if you’re lucky enough to see a dolphin, it means you’re lucky enough to be at the beach.
- Horseshoes. Especially those that are hand-forged and hung over the doorway, pointed up to keep the luck from running out. I once had a farrier named Michael who hot-shoed my horses, meaning that he heated the iron until it was red and glowing and then hammered it into shape. He died of cancer years ago. I keep one of the shoes Michael made hanging over the door in my hallway. I smile and
think of him every time I see it.
- Norse legend holds that placing an acorn on a windowsill wards off lightening strikes. Good to know with spring thunderstorm season upon us.
- Wishbones. My mother fixed the best fried chicken in the whole world. No kidding. And she cut the chicken up herself, meaning that—unlike most already-cut-up fryers–it had a “pulley bone.” The person who broke off the short end got the good luck. Or was it the long end? No matter. The really lucky one was the one who got to
eat the piece of fried chicken with the pulley bone in it.
- Found pennies. As in “Find a penny and pick it up and all the day you’ll have good luck.” But only if it’s heads-up. Pocketing a tails-up penny is even worse than harming a ladybug.
- Last but not least, in this season when Easter bunnies abound, is the lucky rabbit’s foot. Especially if it’s the left hind foot of a rabbit killed in a cemetery by the light of a full moon by a cross-eyed shooter. Lucky for the person that shot it, that is. Not the rabbit.
(March 17, 2013)