People in most cultures believe in superstitions. From the earliest times, the English, for instance, have believed in certain symbols and customs which could bring good fortune as well as ward off evil spirits. Old customs seldom die so don’t be surprised because some of these customs are still practiced daily in today’s society.
Horseshoe is considered a lucky symbol in English custom. It resembles the other symbols associated with good fortune in other cultures such as crescent, half circle or “U”. Crescent or “U” shape is often said to be the symbol of fertility and also possesses power to ward of evil spirit. As it is made of iron for horses, it is also linked to strength and power. As such, combining all these signs of good luck, horseshoe is regarded as a powerful device to bring fortune and repel evil. It is usually nailed to the front door to protect the household from uninvited visitors like witches and evils. However, the horseshoe must be placed in an upright “U” position so that the good fortune will be retained by the household.
In the old English custom, the hare (not rabbit) was said to have an evil eye, whose glance can only be countered by people who own a hare’s hind foot. In the olden days, it was said that the warrior Queen Boadicea of Norfolk, East Britain, brought a hare with her to ensure luck in battle against the Roman Empire who had invaded her kingdom. This has brought people to believe that hare had miraculous powers. However, the pagan practice of worshiping hare eventually stopped after most Britons were converted to Christianity in 6th century by the first Archbishop of Canterbury. Nevertheless, many Britons carried hare’s foot in their pocket or purse. Later, rabbits were introduced in Britain from the other European countries and as rabbit can be easily obtained than that of hare, rabbit’s foot replaced hare’s foot as lucky charm.
Wishing upon a wishbone is an ancient custom. The wishbone custom involves two people who would break the wishbone and the one with a bigger piece would make the lucky wish. The wishbone is actually the forked bone from the fowl’s breast or better known as the “furcula”. In many cultures, fowl is regarded as a special creature which could bring luck and good fortune. The wishbone shape itself is good luck symbol of life and fertility.
In the olden days, old boots or shoes are said to retain the good spirit and courage of the owners. Therefore, it is a common belief that old boot is a good luck charm. For instance, if a fisherman caught himself an old boot instead of fish, it is believed that at the end of the day, he would be able to catch and take home a huge amount of fish. In north England for instance, the wives of sailors would usually toss old boots or shoes at the departing ships to ensure their husbands’ save journey. Old boot was also left on the roofs of old houses to ward of evil spirits.