The rabbit's foot has long been a symbol of good luck in all things especially gambling and money matters. While its popularity may have waned—not in small part due to animal rights concerns—some still rub it and carry it in their pockets for good luck.
Sources of Beliefs
We can only speculate on the origin of the rabbit's foot being a lucky charm. A prevailing theory is that since the rabbit is a symbol of fertility this can translate into meaning abundance in all things—not just producing children but also abundant wealth and luck. This symbology has made its way in popular culture with the Easter bunny. This tradition may be of pre-Christian, namely Anglo-Saxon pagan, origin along with the symbolism of the egg tied to fertility celebrations.
This charm was used in African-American hoodoo traditions early in the 20th century and still so today. An ad from a 1930s mail-order hoodoo catalogue actually mentions the rabbit's foot is to be used to enhance the good luck of any other charm. It was also believed to clear away evil.
Synthetic vs. Real
Understandably, some people are averse to carrying a real rabbit's foot around for any purpose. The practice hasn't died out completely however. You can still find real rabbit's feet for sale but also synthetic versions too. They're often attached to keychains in natural rabbit colors but also died many bright colors.
With all the folklore surrounding the lucky rabbit's foot, skeptics might press us to remember an old quote attributed to R.E. Shay, "Depend on the rabbit's foot if you will, but remember it didn't work for the rabbit." But believers who love the symbolism will continue to carry their rabbit's foot as their lucky charm of choice.
- Deneen, Patricia. Pagan Holidays - Spring Equinox, Ostara, March 20. Squidoo 2009.
- Yronwode, Catherine. The Rabbit Foot, Lucky Mojo.com, 1995-2010. http://www.luckymojo.com/rabbitfoot.html