Do you have a good luck charm? If so you may not be alone. We looked at the most popular lucky charms around the world (and a few to stay away from) to really increase your luck!
The Number 8
The number 8 is a highly regarded symbol across Chinese culture. In Cantonese, one of the many languages spoken throughout the region, the sound is similar to the phrase “to prosper”. There is also a visual resemblance between 88 and the Cantonese phrase ‘double joy’, a popular decorative design composed of two stylised characters.
The number 8 is viewed as such an auspicious number that being assigned a code or serial number with several eights is considered very lucky. Any 3 digit number that ends with 48 sounds like “wealthy for X lifetimes”, for example, 748 means “wealthy for 7 lifetimes”.
Some notable appearances of the number around the world include:
- In 2003, the phone number “+86 28 8888 8888” was sold to Sichuan Airlines for CN¥2.33 million (approximately £203,000).
- The opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing began on 8/8/08 at 8 minutes and 8 seconds past 8 pm local time.
- The Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia each have 88 floors.
- In Singapore, a breed of rare Dragonfish is always microchipped with plenty of eights in their tag numbers and the breeder reserves codes especially rich in eights and sixes (e.g., 702088880006688) for particularly valuable specimens.
- Similar to the common Western practices of using “9” to indicate good savings, it is common to see “8” being used to achieve the same psychological effect.
The Air Canada route from Shanghai to Toronto is Flight AC88.
The KLM route from Hong Kong to Amsterdam is Flight KL888.
The United Airlines route from Beijing to San Francisco is Flight UA888, the route from Beijing to Newark is Flight UA88, and the route from Chengdu to San Francisco is Flight UA8.
The British Airways route from Chengdu to London is Flight BA88.
The argument could be made that albatrosses symbolise both good and bad luck combined. The sight of an albatross has long been a notable omen by sailors, even in literature. The wandering albatross is a central symbol in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and is a harbinger to those that ignore nature’s warnings. A person bearing a burden or facing an obstacle is said to have “an albatross around one’s neck”, the punishment given to the mariner who killed the albatross in the story.
Due in part to the poem, it was widely regarded that sailors believed killing an albatross resulted in a plague upon a ship’s crew. But evidence of early ships logs has debunked this myth, showing that sailors regularly killed and ate the birds, using plumage to stuff pillows and the birds long hollow bones as pipestems.
In the early days of navigation, sailors looked to Albatrosses as a sign that land was near. Unbeknownst to the early seafarers, this was often not the case. Albatrosses can soar for hundreds of miles each day and can live for years without needing to set foot on dry land, with the ability to sleep while gliding on the ocean air. Albatrosses are regarded among the most efficient travellers on the planet.
Ladybirds are associated with many different meanings, spanning across cultures and continents with over 5,000 different species.
Even just seeing a ladybird has significance. More often than not in many cultures, this means the person looking upon it is about to be favoured with prosperity. This isn’t necessarily financial prosperity, it could be spiritual, personal or beneficial. It has always been considered very unlucky to kill a ladybird and is generally frowned upon throughout European culture.
In English Folklore, farmers believe that if many ladybirds are seen in springtime, crops will be abundant. Ladybirds are also thought to carry away illness, grant wishes and should one land on your hand, you will be married within a year. Counting the spots on a ladybird will tell you how many children you will have and how much money you are about to come into.
In North American Folklore, if you find a Ladybug hibernating in your house, you will have good luck. Canadians say that if a ladybug lands on you, make a wish and when it flies away, the wish will come from that direction. This belief is closely associated with the children’s nurse rhyme “ladybug, ladybug, fly away home. Your house is on fire and your children are grown”. The fire references the time after harvest, where the dried-out fields were lit on fire to provide good and fertile soil for the following year.
In Italian Folklore, a ladybird is a symbol of fertility. If a ladybird was to fly into the bedroom, you will have many healthy children. In German and French folklore, if you find a ladybird that has less than 7 spots, you will have a good harvest.
How things come to be lucky is usually somewhat of a mystery and varies from one culture to the next. What’s considered lucky in one area of the world could be considered the exact opposite in other places. But the ladybird is a creature that’s thought to be a lucky charm all over the globe.
There is however one type of ladybird that is spreading bad luck wherever it goes.
Its name is the Harlequin Ladybird. Originally from Asia, the harlequin ladybird first arrived in the UK in 2004 and has rapidly become one of the most common ladybirds in the country, particularly in urban areas. It is one of the larger species and is also a predator. Able to out-compete UK native ladybirds on finding prey, the harlequin will also eat other ladybirds’ eggs and larvae if given the chance. It can also have multiple offspring throughout the spring, summer and autumn, as opposed to native species which only breed in summer.
Should I kill a harlequin ladybird if I see it?
There is currently no recommended control for these insects. Full-grown harlequins will eat a wide range of garden pests, so killing them is rather futile and ultimately could be seen as detrimental. You may as well benefit from their large appetites. It’s also quite difficult to differentiate between a harlequin and a native UK species, so in trying to help cull the invaders, you may mistakenly kill a native ladybird. In short, they are best left alone. Instead, help monitor their spread and leave the rest to the bug nerds.
The four-leaf clover is a rarer variation of the common three-leaf clover. According to traditional sayings, such clovers bring good luck, though it is not clear when or how this idea began. The earliest mention recorded is from a 1640 horticultural book, though the link to luck seems to date back much further, with the four-leafed stem being used to attract a husband, create good fortune and ward off ne’er-do-wells.
Fields of clover were believed to attract fairies and wearing a four-leafed clover was said to render them visible. An ointment made from a four-leafed clover or an amulet containing the lucky leaf, together with grains of wheat, gave second sight to the user.