Each country, culture and religion have an idea of what is lucky and what is unlucky. In the US, having a black cat cross in front of you is bad luck (I had a black cat for years and had very good luck). In Italy, being pooped on by a bird is buona fortuna- good fortune. In Albania, having good dreams your first night in a new place is a sign you’ll enjoy your time there. To many, Friday the 13th is unlucky, so why not bring some international luck to the day?
All across Turkey and other Balkan and Middle Eastern countries, evil spirits are kept away with nazar boncugu, evil eye amulets. The evil eyes can be ornaments hung on a car’s rear-view window, beads on a bracelet or plate-sized amulets over doorways. Wherever they are displayed, they ward off evil.
In Italy, especially in the south near Naples, red chilli peppers are a good luck symbol. It is the corno, or horn of the devil, that keeps away bad spirits. They are effective when fresh, dried or decorative and are commonly found as ornaments or key chains. Often, the corno is combined with the number thirteen or with Pulcinella, the Neapolitan prankster, which are both good luck symbols unique to Naples.
Perhaps the most well-known good luck symbol is the Irish shamrock. Worn by people all over the world for St. Patrick’s Day, it has become a symbol of good luck in other countries as well. Originally, the three leafed clover (shamrock) was used by Saint Patrick to explain the holy trinity to the Celts (the father, the son and the holy ghost each represented by a leaf) and has become symbolic of the country. Green is the national color of Ireland and shamrocks cover the land. Three-leafed shamrocks are the most common, but to find a four-leafed clover is lucky.
In Egypt, good luck is brought by the scarab, or dung beetle. The dung beetle rolls dung into a ball, lay eggs inside and the larvae would eat their way out of the dung ball, seeming like magical new life. The scarab is said to push the sun across the sky, thus creating new life with each sunrise and sunset. Ancient Egyptians were commonly buried with scarab amulets to help them pass the final judgement. They are found in present-day Egypt representing new life and good fortune.
Friday the 13th doesn’t have to be spent worrying about disaster, staying at home for fear of something bad happening on the way to work or school. Of course, not everyone believes in Friday the 13th, but if you do, why not take charge of the day and chase the misfortune away with an evil eye, chilli, shamrock or scarab? If you’re feeling particularly unlucky, you can always stand under a flock of birds and hope that one will poop on you
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