Have you ever wished for luck over a four-leaf clover lucky charm? Or used the phrase "luck of the Irish." You aren't alone. In fact, every year on Saint Patrick's day it seems almost everyone is wearing a four-leaf clover sticker or has the familiar symbol painted on their face. While the origins of the superstitions are unknown, there is an interesting history as to what they've become.
There's a well-known phrase—the luck of the Irish—that some may base their faith in Irish charms for luck. The irony of this is that the Irish were considered to have some of the worst luck. The phrase may be an American invention and was possibly used as a sarcastic put down to Irish immigrants. There was a great deal of bigotry aimed at the Irish early in American history and it was thought that the only way anything good could come of them or to them was by sheer dumb luck. The phrase has come to be turned around from its original meaning in the last century or so. It now has the luck factor associated with it combining it with symbols of Ireland including four-leaf clovers—also called lucky shamrocks.
What of the superstitions of the four-leaf clover itself. Again, the actual origins are lost to history. However, there is speculation as to why this plant is considered lucky. One agrarian theory is that the plant had high nutritional value and grazing animals that ate it were likely to produce good milk. In a time when a family's health and livelihood would depend on this, a good crop of clover would mean a lucky year.
Four-leaf clovers are actually pretty rare. For this reason, another plant named Oxalis is sold as a substitute usually near Saint Patrick's Day. The fact that it's rare could be one reason an aura of being special has built up the lucky superstition around the four-leaf clover. Nowadays, real and manufactured four-leaf clovers in the form of metal charms are carried or worn for good luck in gambling and money matters. Some people carry dried four-leaf clovers in their wallets to draw money to themselves. You can also find them reproduced on key chains, cards, candles and other gift items.
Sweepstakers who believe in luck may want to add this to their lucky charms list. I'll leave you with a lucky saying attributed to the Irish, "May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light, may good luck pursue you each morning and night."
O'Donnell, Edward T. Myths of St. Patrick's Day. George Mason University's History News Network, 2004. http://hnn.us/articles/623.html
Yronwode, Catherine. Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic: A Materia Magica of African-American Conjure. The Lucky Mojo Curio Co., 2002.
The Four Leaf Clover. SampleIreland.com, 2007. http://www.sampleireland.com/four-leaf-clover.html