Talismans of good luck and their origins

Most people, probably at least once in their lives, have used talismans for good luck, be it a coin, a horseshoe or something else. There is no scientific evidence that this actually works, however many people believe in its power.


The first horseshoes ever discovered were among the Etruscans in 400 BC. When this superstition first appeared in Northern Europe (most likely by nomadic Celtic tribes), horseshoes were hung over the entrance to the premises to ward off the evil elves who roamed the forest.

Horseshoes were made of iron, which was also believed to bring good luck. (It was rumored that elves were afraid of their enemies' weapons, which were made of iron.)

The horseshoes were said to resemble the crescent symbol of the Celtic moon god. Depending on the sources, the use of horseshoes as a lucky charm is described in different ways. Somewhere horseshoes were hung with two ends pointing up - to collect luck, as in a bowl, while horseshoes, suspended by two ends pointing down, were believed to "pour out" all their luck on those who pass under them.

According to another traditional point of view, it was believed that in order to attract good luck, a horseshoe must be supported by seven iron nails, because the number 7, as you will learn a little later, was often considered very powerful.

Knocking on wood

The tradition of knocking on wood has no distinct origin. Most likely, this is because the ancient pagans had many spirits whose home was the forest, and knocking on wood can be seen as a protection from evil or a request to the deity for favor.

Perhaps the ancient pagans did something similar, trying to make more noise when they drove away evil spirits or tried to prevent them from hearing (and then harm) about someone's luck.

The tradition of knocking on wood originated before the 19th century, but gained real popularity thanks to the many games children played (for example, hide and seek). By the twentieth century, superstition had become as widespread as it is today.

Number 7

There are many numbers that are considered lucky, but the most powerful of them is 7. Considered lucky because of its association with almost every religion, the number 7 is especially valuable to Jews (where this practice most likely originated) and Christians, because it is considered a sacred number (7 days of the creation of the Universe, 7 virtues, etc.).

This number also has a special place in a number of myths around the world. In ancient Egypt, for example, it was believed that there were seven roads to heaven. However, in China, the number 7 is considered unlucky because it is associated with death. They love the number 8 because it rhymes with the word for "prosperity" or "welfare."

Fortune cookie

Many people believe that fortune-telling cookies are of Chinese origin, as they are very common in Chinese restaurants around the world. They are also believed to bring good luck in the form of a paper fortune strip hidden inside a cookie.

However, they were invented in 1914 by a Japanese man named Makoto Hagiwara, who lived in San Francisco. (Some people mistakenly think it was a Chinese American named David Jung, but Hagiwara cookies were the first to be created.)

The cookies themselves are most likely derived from Japanese fortune crackers known as "tsujiura senbei". These paper fortune-filled rice cookies were served in Japanese temples in the 19th century. In terms of how they appeared in Chinese restaurants, many Japanese immigrants who lived in California in the 20th century were the owners of food service establishments that served Americanized Chinese food, as traditional Chinese food did not seem to be popular.


A staple of the West African voodoo religion, as well as the traditional voodoo religion of the Americas, the gri-gris is a lucky bag with some interesting twists. Men traditionally wear it around their necks, while women either attach it to a bra or to a blouse from the inside. Basically, it is worn for good luck, but it can also protect you from evil. In some West African countries, gris is considered an effective birth control method.

The first to use it were the Malians, who wrote Islamic verses on it shortly before or immediately after they began to contact Muslim missionaries who began to spread their new religion. Depending on what is inside the pouch, the gri-gri can also be used as a form of black magic. Common ingredients that are placed in gris are herbs with supposed magical qualities and parts of dead animals.

Jin Chan

Known as the "money frog, " Jin Chan, or Ch'an Chu, is a red-eyed, three-legged bull frog that usually sits on a pile of coins. Originating in China thousands of years ago, Jin Chan is a common talisman in Chinese culture, especially in Feng Shui, although its use as an amulet of wealth evolved much later, perhaps in the 16th or 17th century. However, this may be related to the ancient myth of the Moon Frog who became the essence of the Moon.

It is said to bring good luck, mainly in the form of cash income, and money frog figurines are usually made with coins in their mouths. (If the frog does not have a coin in its mouth, then it must be directed away from the house, otherwise it will suck money out of it.)


Translated from Japanese "Alluring cat" or "Calling cat", Maneki-Neko is a Japanese talisman for good luck in the form of a cat with a raised paw. Originating in Japan sometime between the 16th and 18th centuries, Maneki-Neko is usually housed in shop windows or shop windows because it is said to bring prosperity to business. Many of them are also depicted with coins in their paws.

Maneki-Neko's classic mythical origin is based on the story of a depressed businessman who meets a terribly hungry cat. Despite the fact that the man had no money, he fed the cat, improving his health, and his business began to flourish immediately after the cat began to sit in front of his store, attracting passers-by.

There are various superstitions regarding the elements of the figurine. For example, if a person wants to lure happiness, the cat's left leg should be raised, and if his goal is health, then the right leg should be raised.

Kachina Dolls

Used by the Hopi people in North America, the Kachina dolls appeared around the end of the 18th century. They symbolize one of the hundreds of spirits that are said to have interacted with the tribe. Traditionally carved from the roots of poplars, these talismans are often decorated, depending on their purpose, with necklaces, bracelets and even knives.

Hopi girls are given Kachin dolls from one year old, and two dolls are given every year. In addition to being an educational element for young girls by teaching them their culture, Kachina dolls are also said to bring good luck to the families that make them, protecting them from disease and misfortune.


Translated from Portuguese for "gloomy, sullen face", karranca is a statue, usually carved from wood, which is placed in the front of the boat. Its main function is to protect the boat from evil spirits that may try to get on it or turn it over. According to legend, the Karranks also emitted a low groan, warning the crew of an approaching danger.

Coming from the San Francisco River Basin in Brazil, the Carranca statues were first used in the second half of the 18th century. Although not used as widely today, except for sale to tourists, they are usually depicted with fearsome faces that are believed to scare off river creatures.